2012 Sapphire Award Recognizes Excellence in Community Health Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida Foundation Presents $360,000 in Grants to Eight Honorees

ORLANDO, Fla., Feb. 17, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, during the Sapphire Award Presentation, eight honorees were recognized for positively impacting the health of their fellow Floridians.  The Sapphire Award is presented annually by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida (BCBSF) Foundation, the philanthropic affiliate of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida (BCBSF). 

The Sapphire Award is Florida's only statewide honor that recognizes organizations that have demonstrated excellence in addressing community health care needs.  This year $360,000 in grants were made. 

The 2012 Sapphire Award honorees are:

2012 Sapphire Award Winner ($30,000)
Excellence in Community Health - Individual
Dr. Charles Mahan - is dean and professor emeritus in the College of Public Health at the University of South Florida and The Lawton and Rhea Chiles Center for Healthy Mothers and Babies.  His colleagues consider him to the champion on maternal and child health in Florida.

2012 Sapphire Award Honorable Mention ($10,000 each)
Excellence in Community Health - Individual
Josephine Mercado - is founder and executive director of Hispanic Health Initiatives (HHI), Inc.  HHI educates and connects medically under-served families in Central Florida with health services by disseminating accurate information in a culturally sensitive and linguistically competent manner.

Richard Moss – is administrative volunteer at the Citrus County Family Resource Center.  He is responsible for grantwriting, program development and administrative work.  Moss also created the Citrus County AIDS Coalition. 

2012 Sapphire Award Winner ($100,000)
Excellence in Community Health - Program
Teen Xpress - provides free medical and mental health care services to adolescents and teens at four public schools and a YMCA in two of Orlando's most impoverished communities - Parramore and Pine Hills. 

2012 Sapphire Award Honorable Mention ($30,000)
Excellence in Community Health - Program
Cared Vision Program – provides eye care to adults and children who have been identified as having a vision problem or signs of eye disease and do not have access to quality health care. Patients who qualify may receive all or part of these services at a reduced cost or free. This is the only program of its kind in Northeast Florida.

2012 Sapphire Award Winner ($100,000)
Excellence in Community Health - Organization
Primary Care Access Network – is a coalition of 22 public, private, faith-based and government agencies that operate a full range or primary and secondary care services for over 100,000 uninsured residents of Orange County.  

2012 Sapphire Award Honorable Mention ($50,000)
Excellence in Community Health - Organization
PACE Center for Girls – provides girls at-risk for becoming involved in the juvenile justice system an opportunity to improve their life through education, counseling, training and advocacy. 

2012 Sapphire Award Honorable Mention ($30,000)
Excellence in Community Health - Organization
Life Management Center of Northwest Florida – provides mental, behavioral, family counseling and substance abuse services to low-income, uninsured and underinsured children and adults in Bay, Calhoun, Gulf, Homes, Jackson and Washington counties. 

"We salute this year's honorees for their admirable work to reach underserved and uninsured Floridians.  These individuals, programs and organizations have each demonstrated excellence while working to improve their community," said Susan Towler, vice president, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida Foundation.  "It is our hope that others will follow their lead and improve the health and wellbeing of Floridians who need it the most."

This year's ceremony took place at the Wyndham Grand Orlando, Bonnet Creek following a symposium featuring health care experts and leaders, including a keynote address from Dr. Leighton Ku of The George Washington University.  In 2012, the BCBSF Foundation revised the competition to include three distinct categories: organizations, programs and a new category recognizing individuals. 

About the BCBSF Foundation

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida Foundation (BCBSF Foundation) is a separate, philanthropic affiliate of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida (BCBSF), incorporated in the state of Florida.  The BCBSF Foundation and its parent, BCBSF, are independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies.  For more information on the BCBSF Foundation, please visit www.BlueFoundationFL.com.

About the Sapphire Award

The Sapphire Award was created by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida Foundation (BCBSF Foundation) in 2005 to recognize excellence in community health.  Since its inception, 37 health-focused nonprofits have been honored and nearly $2.2 million has been awarded in recognition of their achievements.

BCBSF and the BCBSF Foundation are on Facebook and Twitter.

SOURCE Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida Foundation



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