Grant helps Florida counseling center expand mental health services

Destiny1, a 17-year-old girl living in Florida, struggled with low self-esteem, anxiety and with establishing boundaries in her relationships. When she needed someone to listen and lean on for support, the Pace Center for Girls was there to help.

Pace helps girls like Destiny, who are between the ages of 11-17, by providing academic support, counseling and career guidance. Through its Pace Reach program, the center provides personalized therapeutic services to help meet girls’ unique developmental needs. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, this support system has been essential — and highly in demand. 

With the help of a $250,000 UnitedHealthcare grant, the Pace Center for Girls will be able to provide access to mental and behavioral health services for 100 girls like Destiny and their families over the next year. 

The grant helps Pace expand services and remove obstacles to care for girls currently enrolled in the Pace Reach program at the Broward and Palm Beach centers. It will also allow them to hire two behavioral health therapists in the South Florida region. 

Since COVID-19, many young people may be experiencing isolation and are seeking opportunities for increased connection.

“COVID-19 has increased the need to provide therapeutic services for girls who are experiencing stress, isolation from friends and uncertainty in their environment,” said Aggie Pappas, the regional executive director for Pace. “This can compound past trauma and toxic stress in their lives. The funding from UnitedHealthcare is helping us to support our girls and their families in their time of need.”

For young girls like Destiny, the organization’s support makes all the difference. Since enrolling in Pace, she has gained self-confidence, learned how to better manage stress, developed leadership skills and found a new job where she continues to grow. She has also become more involved in extracurricular activities at school and is on track to graduate next June. 

“Destiny is only one of our success stories,” Aggie said. “When we see our clients turn a corner and push towards their goals, there’s no greater feeling.” 

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