Florida Blue Foundation Sapphire Awards honor individuals, community health programs and organizations across state
Orlando – Basketball hall of famer Alonzo Mourning Jr. was among four honorees recognized by the Florida Blue Foundation with its Sapphire Award for excellence and innovation in community health. Also honored were Angie Romagosa, a long-time community service leader in Seminole County, the I.M. Sulzbacher Center for the Homeless in Duval County, and Seminole County mental health nonprofit IMPOWER’s telehealth program.
The awards were announced during the Foundation’s annual Community Health Symposium, which brings together health advocates from across the country to discuss major health issues. A total of $410,000 was awarded to the four honorees and six finalists.
Since 2005, more than $5 million has been invested and 107 Sapphire Awards given to 27 individuals and 80 programs and organizations that effectively address health issues in their Florida communities.
The Mourning Family Foundation has raised more than $20 million for various programs in Miami that empower children and aid in their development. In addition to supporting numerous health initiatives, Mourning helped establish the Overtown Youth Center in Miami’s historic Overtown, which provides enrichment services to inner-city youth and their families. In 2003, Mourning underwent a kidney transplant and spearheaded the Zo’s Fund for Life campaign, which raised $2 million to support kidney disease research and treatment. He was a leading advocate for the passage of a state law offering qualified individuals guaranteed enrollment in Medicare, and he served as the spokesperson for the National Kidney Foundation. View the Florida Blue Foundation video of Mourning’s achievements.
Romagosa’s work in community health spans 32 years as the founder and leader of the Christian Sharing Center in Seminole County, whose services improve the health and well-being of underprivileged and low-income members of the community. Under Romagosa’s leadership the organization has grown since 1986 to serve 14,000 people in need annually. View the Florida Blue Foundation video of Romagosa’s achievements.
IMPOWER created a program in 2013 to use telehealth technology to provide greater access to mental health care for low-income and underserved individuals in Seminole County. The program helps overcome a lack of access due to transportation issues, a critical shortage of psychiatrists and other issues. The program uses real-time video chat between patients and health care providers, allowing county residents to receive care via a smartphone, computer or tablet. View the Florida Blue Foundation video about IMPOWER’s telehealth program.
When the I.M. Sulzbacher Center for the Homeless opened its doors in Duval County in 1995, it served only men and its dormitory consisted of pallets on a concrete floor. The center has since added a women’s shelter, a family shelter, a children’s building, a medical clinic, medical outreach to individuals living on the street, veterans outreach, a veterans’ dorm and school-based medical clinics. It also founded and operates the Sulzbacher Village for Women and Families, which provides stable housing as well as health and dental services that are available to all children living in its underserved neighborhood. Today, Sulzbacher has become a nationally recognized leader of innovative approaches to ending homelessness. View the Florida Blue Foundation’s video of the Sulzbacher Center.
2019 Florida Blue Foundation Sapphire Awards:
Alonzo Mourning Jr. (Miami-Dade)
Angie Romagosa (Seminole)
Alberto M. Carvalho (Miami-Dade) (video)
IMPOWER of Florida (Seminole) Telehealth (Virtual) Mental Health Services
The Florida Center for Early Childhood (Sarasota) Early Childhood Court (video)
University of Central Florida Foundation (Orange) Limbitless Solutions (video)
I.M. Sulzbacher Center for the Homeless (Duval)
Miami Beach Community Health Center (Miami-Dade) (video)
Pine Castle (Duval) (video)
The Sundari Foundation (Miami-Dade) (video)
Permission is granted for use of all videos. Photos available upon request.
About Florida Blue Foundation
Florida Blue Foundation enables healthy communities by making grants, building coalitions and rewarding best practices. More than three million people in Florida have received direct health services as a result of grants made to nonprofit organizations since our founding in 2001. Florida Blue Foundation is a trade name of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida Foundation, Inc., an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.