PUBLISHED AUG. 18, 2016
By LOIS KINDLE
When Brenda Peichart Peash set up her will years ago, she decided to leave a large gift from her estate to Mental Health Care Inc., now known as Gracepoint in Tampa. Her intent was that the money be used to establish community mental health services in southern Hillsborough County.
A Sun City Center resident for 15 years, Peash died last August at age 73.
Probate attorney Karen Prevatt is now carrying out her directives. The Sun City Center lawyer, who specializes in wills and real estate, has a special interest in mental health issues and serves as legal counsel for the Southshore Coalition for Mental Health & Aging.
Thanks to Peash’s bequest of $200,000, Gracepoint’s IMPACT team has committed to provide weekly services in the South Shore area for five years, Prevatt said. Two mental healthcare professionals, a master’s level therapist and bachelor’s level case manager, will travel to the area in Gracepoint’s mobile van to serve high-risk individuals in their homes and offer them acute-care services.
The program is a regionally specific add-on to Gracepoint’s existing Mobile Crisis IMPACT Program, which provides support throughout Hillsborough County, said Susan Morgan, Gracepoint communications manager.
“Transportation is often a barrier to services or treatment for residents of the South Shore area,” she said. “So now we’ll be the services to them to reduce those barriers.
“It’s really a game changer to have easily accessible behavioral health services available where you live, especially if in crisis,” she continued. “Florida ranks nearly last in mental health funding in the nation. Ms. Peash did not just see a need, she met it. We are so appreciative of her kindness.”
Mental healthcare professionals are thrilled.
“Oh my goodness. That’s wonderful,” said Sun City Center resident Karen Fredricks, president of the National Alliance on Mental & Illness (NAMI) Hillsborough board and a retired therapist. “This is so, so needed. To have such services nearby when they’re actually needed and case management that can link people in a timely way to other available resources is phenomenal.”
Others in the mental health community agree.
“We’re woefully underserved in the South Shore area when it comes to mental health services but especially when it involves chronic and high-risk individuals,” said Anna Lively, a licensed mental health and nationally board certified counselor in Sun City Center. “The case management component of this (program) is huge.”
“This is fabulous news,” added Debbie Caneen, president of the Southshore Coalition for Mental Health & Aging. “Having a need and having to struggle to get it filled makes the stressors even greater. Thanks to this woman’s generosity, we are blessed to be able to provide important, sorely needed services to our South Shore neighbors.”
Some folks might be surprised by Peash’s gift, Prevatt said.
“Outside she was crusty, but inside she was loveable and generous,” she said. “She truly wanted to help people in need.”
In addition to Peash’s donation to Gracepoint, the world traveler left more than $200,000 to the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay. Details of that gift are being worked out, Prevatt said. Peash also provided funds for the care of her three cats.
Established in 1949, Gracepoint is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit, fully integrated behavioral health center that offers a full continuum of services for people of all ages. For additional information, visit www.gracepointwellness.com. To request counseling or case management service, call 813-239-8566.