Federal funding has run out for a wellness center opened to heal the trauma from the state’s worst school shooting, but $600,000 from state coffers will ensure Eagles’ Haven stays open as Parkland’s tears continue flowing.
Eagles’ Haven Wellness Center opened in 2019, a year after shots rang out in Building 1200 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, leaving 17 dead and 17 others wounded.
The center provides workshops and support groups to help support the Coral Springs and Parkland communities. It’s open seven days a week, offering services free of charge.
Democratic Sen. Tina Polsky requested the money that is equal to about half the center’s annual budget. The request, filed in October, foresaw that the penalty phase of Nikolas Cruz’s trial, now underway, would be a source of continued pain.
“We anticipate crises to increase surrounding the trial, and we are prepared to enhance our services and emergency support in an effort to keep the community as safe as possible,” the request says.
Polsky and Democratic Rep. Christine Hunschofsky went to the center last week to present the staff with a ceremonial $600,000 check.
“This appropriation comes just in time when the federal funding was about to expire,” Polsky said. “Now these crucial mental health services will remain available.”
The center has navigators that provide clinical assessment and crisis support, along with linking clients with any needed social or therapeutic services in the community.
In a spa-like environment, a few miles from where that fateful day unfolded, pet therapy, exercise classes, drumming, acupuncture, aromatherapy, art therapy, singing, stretching and massages are among the activities to release the trauma, loss, grief, and guilt that often accompanies follows events like this.
Sarah Franco, CEO of the Jewish Adoption and Foster Care Options, the charity that runs Eagles’ Haven, called the appropriation “life-changing.”
Hunschofsky was Mayor of Parkland when the tragedy occurred and worked with numerous entities to open the center’s doors in the tragic aftermath.
“While it has been over four years since the shooting, the need for trauma, mental health, and wellness support remains,” she said.