Space Coast Health Foundation - W&J

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

Keller’s sentiments on the impact of collaboration have been shared by thought leaders and innovators throughout history. This mindset has and is continuing to shape the future of the Space Coast and now has a true home, the Space Coast Health Foundation’s Center for Collaboration.

Seventy-eight years ago, the heirs of Eugene Wuesthoff, a resident of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who often spent his winters on the Indian River in Rockledge, donated $12,500 to launch a building drive for a hospital in the Cocoa/Rockledge area. The local chamber and other organizations joined in the effort and that collaboration led to donations from 500 others and Wuesthoff Memorial Hospital opened in 1941.

When the hospital was sold to Steward Health Care and became Rockledge Regional Medical Center, a foundation was established with the proceeds to carry on the healthcare legacy, which began humbly with a staff of three physicians, one surgeon and two nurses. The mission of the Space Coast Health Foundation (SCHF), to enhance the health and wellness of individuals and communities in Brevard, is being realized through their grant-making support of numerous organizations across the county and their new facility that is serving as a magnet for non-profit gatherings and shared synergies.

The Birth of a Vision

“When we were in a leased space in Viera,” Johnette Gindling, the foundation’s president and CEO said, “we let other non-profits use our meeting space for meetings of various sizes.” The response was overwhelming and the integration between different organizations was clearly evident. Also, while they were setting up the foundation and doing research on community needs and the capacities of various groups within the county, they saw the benefits of having a place where various groups could meet, educate and collaborate.

As the foundation focused on their mission, their board recommended they begin to look for a permanent home. Then one of their board members called Gindling and suggested they consider the old Space Bowl building on U.S. 1 in Rockledge. They say a picture speaks a thousand words. The transformation of what was an eyesore into one of the area’s real amenities today, says a lot about what the foundation strives to do in changing the healthcare paradigm in Brevard. Which also may explain why the City of Rockledge made a $10,000 grant for the revitalization project.

A local architect, Jack Rood, brought in Greg Tsark to design the facility. “Greg was amazing,” Gindling said. “He listened to what we wanted and needed at every step.” Another crucial part of the team was W+J Construction, which turned the concept into a reality. “I can’t say enough about W+J,” Gindling added. “They were so responsive to what we wanted to create and walked us through every step of the process, even after the building was finished.”

For Erik Costin, vice president and operations manager of W+J, the benefit went both ways.

“We have the opportunity to do a lot of projects in the community, but this one is different than many of the others. Not only did we start with a building that was a blemish and now it is a showplace, the Center for Collaboration is having an impact on the whole continuum of non-profits in our community. It’s great to be a part of that.” – Erik Costin

A Home for Many

When Wuesthoff Hospital was sold, the Children’s Advocacy Center of Brevard (CACB) came under the auspices of the SCHF. Then, when the foundation began planning for their facility, thanks to a $1.5 million grant from the State of Florida, with special thanks to Representative Steve Crisafulli, speaker of the Florida house, it also became the home of the CACB. This organization holistically handles the very critical and sensitive incidents of child abuse and neglect in our area.

Another organization that touches lives all across the county, United Way, was in need of space, not only for their administrative staff, but also to be able to receive and distribute the donations of goods to their organization.  With the facility’s new loading docks, it seems a natural fit, not only for its central location, but the fact that United Way is another one of the most significant grant-making organizations in the county, to call the Center for Collaboration its home.

John Maxwell once said, “If I win and you lose, I win once. If you win and I lose, you win once. But if we win together, we will both win many times.” Fortunately for Brevard, the wins from collaboration keep adding up.