On May 9, 2019, Sulzbacher received the Florida Blue Foundation’s prestigious Sapphire Award to recognize excellence and innovation in community health care statewide. The awards are part of the Foundation’s annual Community Health Symposium that brings together health experts from across the country to discuss major health issues. As the winner in this category, Sulzbacher received a check from the Florida Blue Foundation for $70,000.
Sulzbacher began life as a NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) project in 1995 and found a home in a vacant warehouse, under a highway overpass, behind the jail. When it opened its doors, it served men only and the dormitory consisted of pallets, within painted spaces, on a concrete floor. There was no air conditioning and scant heating. From that humble beginning were added bunk beds, a women’s shelter, a families’ shelter, children’s building, medical clinic, medical street outreach, satellite medical clinic, veterans outreach, veterans dorm, medical respite, medical clinic expansion, school-based medical clinics and the completion of the $22-million satellite Sulzbacher Village: a Community for Women and Families, that includes a health and dental clinic for all children living in Health Zone One.
Today, Sulzbacher is one of Florida’s premier homeless service providers. It has become a nationally recognized leader of innovative approaches to ending homelessness but most importantly, it is the safety net for the community’s most vulnerable citizens.
“We are thrilled and honored to receive this award from one of our strongest partners, Florida Blue Foundation,” said Cindy Funkhouser, President and CEO of Sulzbacher. “The fact that we were nominated with so many other amazing organizations across the state makes us truly humbled. In our line of work, we like to say, ‘Housing is Healthcare’, so this is an award that honors the work that we do in the health care field as well as in the housing field.”
In 2019 the Florida Blue Foundation celebrated 14 years of presenting the Sapphire Awards to individuals, programs and organizations in community health. The Sapphire Awards, through a competitive external review process, honor outstanding individuals, programs and organizations whose effectiveness and services are distinguished by exemplary leadership, innovation in service delivery and demonstrated successes in community health.