The MHA Pays it Forward
Updated: Jan 20
In late May, it was reported that a local nonprofit lost its delivery vehicle due to an accident in Fellsmere. The accident’s only fatality was the vehicle itself and for Ted Pankiewicz Sr, founder of For the Love of Paws, a local nonprofit that provides adoption services, peace of mind and pet food to senior citizens and their furry companions when they can no longer care for their pets, that was his singular concern. Without the large space the van offered, deliveries would run slower and take longer. This was something the Mental Health Association in Indian River County could not ignore. The MHA’s mission is to provide immediate access without barriers to mental health care but, when it gets right down to it, the underlying wish is to make sure those who need help, get it. The people who depend on and look forward to deliveries from For the Love of Paws should have access to help and the men and women who dedicate their time to making sure they do will no longer not have to worry.
As luck would have it, the MHA had an extra van at the Martin County Drop-In & Recovery Center. Immediately, MHA Leadership approached Board Members with the idea of donating the van to fellow nonprofit and it was decided that it was the right thing to do. The very next week, the 2008 For E-350 Super Duty passenger van was brought to Vero and was donated to For the Love of Paws. “John’s Island Community Foundation had donated the van to us and now it will now have a new, second act. When I read about For the Love of Paws' loss, We knew we had to pay our blessings forward; it’s a win-win for all involved,” stated Angela Guzenski, MHA's COO, as the new owners gladly took ownership.
Ted Pankiewicz shared that the van will indeed enter its second act with flare. The funds Pankiewicz had been raising to purchase a replacement vehicle will now be used to insure, register and wrap the van with graphic treatment complete with a special thank you to the Mental Health Association in Indian River County. Pankiewicz concludes, “This is a wonderful example of one nonprofit helping another.”
MHAIRC has been active in Indian River County since 1978. In 2007, they opened the Walk-In & Counseling Center in Vero Beach, Florida. The Walk-In & Counseling Center is unique in that it offers immediate access to emotional and behavioral health care for children and adults on a walk-in basis for the initial visit, and by appointment for continuing treatment and services. They also run three Drop-In & Recovery Centers for people with severe and persistent mental illness in three counties – Indian River, Martin, and Okeechobee counties. These centers are open 365 days per year, and we have had 24,000 visits to the Drop-In Centers during the past year. The MHAIRC has also implemented an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), School Violence and Suicide Prevention Programs, Life Skills training at the Boy’s and Girl’s Clubs of Indian River County and Gifford Youth Achievement Center, run recurring support groups for the LGBTQ community as well as those suffering with depression and anxiety, also offer classes such as Mindfulness and Female Empowerment.