Life Management of Northwest Florida has been serving and making a difference in Bay, Calhoun, Gulf, Holmes, Washington and Jackson counties for 65 years. Their centers serve 10,000 families and individuals annually, offering alternatives for dealing with stress, family issues, substance abuse and mental illness. The company has made great strides in removing the stigma related to receiving needed help. Similarly, hurricane recovery has a unique stress that takes time from which to recover. Through Life Management Center of Northwest Florida, Project H.O.P.E. is providing those recovering a support system.
Kisha Collins, Community Liaison for Life Management Center and Project H.O.P.E., explained how Project H.O.P.E. is funded by FEMA, Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and Life Management Center of Northwest Florida. According to Kisha, the program started here after Hurricane Michael to provide “crisis counseling that would teach people how to discover their inner strengths, build resiliency and teach them to rely on their support systems.”
Kisha was born in Marianna and is a graduate of Cottondale High School. She later attended University of West Florida, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice. A life-long learner, Kisha is working on her Master of Science degree in Psychology and Counseling at Troy University. Kisha began working with Life Management Center of Northwest Florida in April 2009. Since that time she has held the positions of Emergency Service Screener, Adult and Child Case Manager, Psychosocial Rehabilitative Counselor, and Forensic Case Manager.
Two days after Hurricane Michael came through the area, Kisha began working in the shelters. “Lots of people were in shock,” she explained. “Some were without their medication and clothing, and others could not return home because their home was destroyed,” Kisha shared. “Although it has been 10 months since Hurricane Michael came through Marianna, people are disillusioned about the amount of cleanup that has taken place, and the current state of the community we are living in.” She continued, “All of these feelings will be retriggered on the anniversary date of the storm and emotions will return.”
Kisha wants you to know that you do not have to go through this alone. “We work in non-traditional settings, such as churches, homes and schools” she added. “We are boots on the ground.” In fact, all you have to do to receive services is call Kisha and she will come to you. There is no waiting, no intake forms and the service is FREE. The only documentation recorded by Kisha and the other Project H.O.P.E. counselors is the number of people with which they speak. “We don’t record names or locations” Kisha explained. She is more than happy to speak with groups or individuals. If during the counseling session Kisha notices other signs or symptoms, she might make a referral, but it is completely up to the individual whether or not to follow up, and everything is completely confidential. Kisha’s warm smile and caring demeanor make sharing feelings and experiences easy.
Project H.O.P.E. has five counselors designated for Jackson and Calhoun Counties, four counselors in Washington and Holmes counties, five counselors in Gulf County and twelve counselors available in Bay County. The program also has Child Specialists to assist children who may have been traumatized by Hurricane Michael. All you have to do is make a phone call. Do not wait, because the program may end in February. Kisha and the other counselors hope to extend the program, but the response may depend on need and use of the services.
Life Management Center of Northwest Florida has approximately 300 employees in five offices located in Gulf County, Bay County, Bonifay, Blountstown and Marianna.
Give Kisha a call at 850-482-7441 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. If you are experiencing an emergency, call the same number and select option number five. The local Life Management Center of is located at 4094 Lafayette Street in Marianna. What a great service for the people in Marianna! Visit the City of Marianna’s website at http://www.mariannafl.city/335/New-Businesses-and-Other-Community-News to learn more about businesses in Marianna.
Kay Dennis, MBA, MPA, A.I.C.P., is the director of Municipal Development for the City of Marianna.