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Lakeland, FL – Peace River Center (PRC), a nonprofit behavioral health organization serving Polk, Hardee, and Highlands Counties recently received a $5,000 Empower Polk Grant through the GiveWell Community Foundation. During the pandemic, the organization shifted operations and began providing the majority of its outpatient therapy services, children’s psychiatric services, and mental illness recovery programs virtually.

“Technology allowed us to continue providing support, especially when a growing number of individuals needed it. However, we quickly recognized a significant shortfall of portable computer hardware,” said J. William Gardam, President and Chief Executive Officer of PRC. Before the pandemic, most therapists and case managers used desktop computers. Through community funding opportunities at the onset of COVID-19, the organization quickly purchased additional laptops. Now thanks to the Empower Polk funding, PRC can fill additional gaps and ensure staff has the technology to continue serving clients.

Gardam said mental health care and treatment through telehealth will continue even beyond the pandemic. He noted telehealth removes some barriers such as transportation and anxiety around traveling or being around others.

“We are so grateful for the ongoing support of the GiveWell Community Foundation and its donors. Their generosity helps provide much-needed mental health services and programs in our community,” said Gardam.

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 our 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

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