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Lakeland, FL- Three Leadership Lakeland Class 30 alumni have joined forces to make a big impact in response to COVID-19’s impact on our community. 

Year after year, Leadership Lakeland, a program of the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce, brings groups of diverse professionals together to engage in community issues, foster a spirit of camaraderie and enhance the development of long term leadership in our community. 

Matt Mucci, Regional Director of External Affairs for AT&T, led the effort to put resources in the hands of two outstanding organizations, Lakeland Volunteers in Medicine and Peace River Center, which are providing essential support to the community during this time of great need.  About the effort, Matt says, “COVID-19 has hit everyone hard, especially our not for profits.  Providing some assistance in the areas of medications and mental health counseling for these two pillar organizations in Polk County is something AT&T was willing to do without hesitation.”

Lakeland Volunteers in Medicine (LVIM) provides high-quality, compassionate, free healthcare to the working uninsured in Polk County, FL. One of the challenges LVIM experienced this year was a significant cut to the pharmacy program’s grant.  AT&T’s $10,000 gift will help offset this loss and allow LVIM to continue providing life-saving medications to some of our community’s most vulnerable members.  “This year has been challenging to say the least, but it is gifts like these from companies like AT&T who believe in the power philanthropy that have helped LVIM keep our doors open and our patients out of the hospitals at a time when hospital beds are at a premium. LVIM stands ready to serve this community and steward AT&T’s generosity to make the biggest impact possible,” says Alice Koehler, LVIM’s President and CEO.

Peace River Center (PRC) engages, restores, and empowers individuals in our community to reach their fullest potential by providing an array of mental health and substance abuse services. PRC is an essential mental health organization and did not cease to provide services during COVID-19. PRC shifted its service modality to provide access through telehealth to ensure all clients needing care received care while mitigating the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, extra precautions were taken to protect staff and clients with the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).  These changes have impacted PRC’s operational budget. Ileana Kniss, Director of Development and Community Relations says, “These challenging times have engaged us to look for more innovative ways to serve our clients. We are so proud of our compassionate, dedicated staff, some who are still working on their own personal technology devices, and personal cell phones to provide care. 

PRC will put AT&T’s $10,000 gift to work by purchasing laptops for outpatient staff who continue working remotely to provide therapy, medication management and more to thousands of individuals in our communities.

On Friday, December 11th, Mucci, Kniss, and Koehler will gather at Lakeland Volunteers in Medicine, 600 West Peachtree St in Lakeland, at 10:00 AM for a formal check presentation.

ABOUT LAKELAND VOLUNTEERS IN MEDICINE

A non-profit, 501c3 organization, LVIM provides free, high-quality outpatient medical, dental and mental health care to the working uninsured of Polk County in a compassionate manner.  Staffed by more than 300 community and professional volunteers, LVIM treats patients with dignity and respect while providing medical treatment necessary to help patients continue being productive community members.

At LVIM, the treatment is free.  The care is priceless.

ABOUT PEACE RIVER CENTER

Peace River Center is a licensed and accredited, non-profit provider of mental health, substance use and integrated medical services serving Polk, Highlands and Hardee counties. Peace River Center provides options for people struggling with mental health and addiction, for children and adults coping with the trauma of abuse and violence, crisis intervention for people in acute need, and housing and community support and integration for people affected by domestic violence or whose recovery requires more support and time. Peace River Center offers inpatient, outpatient, home-, school- and community-based services, telehealth and mobile programs to individuals, groups and families. Peace River Center’s dedicated and compassionate staff of more than 400 operate 36 programs out of 27 locations and provide 24/7 emergency psychiatric response services to the community through the mobile psychiatric Crisis Response Team. In FY2020, Peace River Center had contact with and provided services to more than 21,500 children, adolescents, adults and seniors. For more information, visit www.PeaceRiverCenter.org.

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