The SMA Healthcare Foundation regretfully announces the cancellation of their Annual Dinner Celebration & Auction, which was scheduled for August 26th at the DAYTONA 500 Club. 

“The Board of Directors for the Foundation made the tough decision to cancel the annual event due to concern for the safety of attendees, staff and volunteers as our community faces the many challenges associated with COVID-19,” said Andrew Gurtis, Chairman of the Board for the SMA Healthcare Foundation. 

The annual dinner and auction has been a primary fundraiser for the Foundation for over 20 years, and revenues from this year’s event were earmarked to support SMA Healthcare’s WARM Program (Women Assisting Recovering Mothers), located at the Vince Carter Sanctuary in Bunnell, Florida. 

“We are seeing a continued commitment from event sponsors to support SMA and the Foundation despite the cancellation, but the event generates a large portion of its revenue through a successful live auction, individual ticket sales, and prize ticket sales,” said Jennifer Secor, Executive Director at the SMA Healthcare Foundation “and the WARM program has significant needs related to the facility and programming.”

The Vince Carter Sanctuary, where WARM is housed, was built in 2008 from funds raised through a capital campaign, including a $1.6 million donation from Vince Carter and his mother, Michele Carter-Scott.  Now, after years of housing women and children, the facility is in need of repairs and updates, with an estimated cost of nearly $700,000. 

Along with these capital needs, SMA has identified program enhancements that would be a great benefit to the women at WARM by addressing some of the needs they have when they are successfully exiting the program.  Those needs include housing assistance, transportation, and training for employment opportunities.  The need for the services WARM offers is great and there is always a waiting list for admission, so SMA has also set a goal of expanding services to assist more women. 

WARM is a long-term residential treatment facility for women exhibiting symptoms of drug and/or alcohol dependence, and for women who are pregnant or post-partum.  The program provides a therapeutic and supportive environment through a broad range of services based upon the client’s individual needs.  Women with children under the age of six are able to have their children in residence with them. 

Normally children ages six and older are able to visit on weekends, and the program schedules family groups and activities.  However, one of the biggest challenges the program has faced with COVID-19, is the inability to allow individuals from outside the program to come on site.  “This has created a huge challenge for the women in the program,” said Alicia Vincent, SMA’s VP of Flagler Services. “The staff are doing everything they can to virtually connect families so the women will stay in the program and get the help they need, but it has created the need for additional services to keep the women engaged.” 

WARM has a history of success for women who come from throughout SMA’s service area of Flagler, Putnam, St. Johns and Volusia Counties.  In FY 2019/2020 they reported the following:

  • 99 women successfully completed the program
  • 94 women successfully participated in the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences Program (culinary certification course)
  • 30 women either regained or were able to retain custody of their children…  and
  • 100% of the babies who were born at WARM were born drug free!  WARM’s total number of healthy babies since 1999 is now at 294!

SMA would like to continue this great work, expand upon it, and to provide it in a homelike and safe environment for the women and children.  Support from the community is critical to do so. 

At the 2019 dinner, the Foundation had implemented what was to be an annual special auction of teddy bears to support the Larry & Joan Kelly Scholarship Fund.  With the cancellation of this year’s event, the Foundation has decided that $100 of every donation of $500 or more, through the end of the year, will go toward these valuable scholarships, and the donor and a child at WARM will receive a commemorative teddy bear. 

If you are interested in supporting SMA Healthcare, the WARM Program, and the SMA Healthcare Foundation, please contact Jennifer Secor, CFRE, Executive Director, at 386-254-1139 or jsecor@smahealthcare.org.