Written by Sarah Haylett
The Steve Smith Family Foundation (SSFF), founded by retired Panthers player, Steve Smith, has been providing hope and inspiration to those in need since 2013. SSFF was created to advance the causes close to the Smith family's heart including domestic violence, awareness and prevention, and family health and wellness services.
Since the COVID-19 outbreak, SSFF has been working tirelessly to adapt their services to better serve their constituents, particularly by innovating new technology solutions and collaborating with other nonprofits and businesses.
“We’re learning a new normal. We’ve never had this level of programming active at the same time, but we are doubling down and doing what we can to respond to the current environment and serve the community,” comments Gerard Littlejohn, Executive Director of SSFF.
SSFF provides affordable medical and counseling for families facing hardships in the Smith Family Wellness Center. The Wellness Center is a collaboration with local nonprofit, Project 658, and has already seen 860 patients this year, including 47 new counseling patients. Despite having to reduce in-person appointments and limit visitors, the clinic has remained open during the COVID-19 crisis and is continuing to grow.
One of the ways the clinic has adapted their services is by offering telemedicine for both medical and counseling appointments. Despite having concerns about access to technology, they have found that most of their constituents have been able to receive care through their phones, or other shared technology among family and friends.
“This year we have seen 332 telemedicine appointments and consider this to be a success. We have also partnered with NC Med Assist to distribute OTC medication to these patients when needed.” said Littlejohn.
SSFF has also partnered with technology company, Everfi, to offer educational mental health courses that were distributed at four CMS schools this year. The courses are not meant to diagnose students, but rather to provide general information about common mental health concerns, and prime them for future counseling. Although the launch was interrupted by COVID-19, they have seen success with the courses and are planning to relaunch this fall.
When asked if this new programming would remain after the COVID-19 outbreak, Littlejohn emphatically said “yes,” noting that SSFF is committed to being flexible and finding new and innovative ways to serve going forward.
If you are looking for a way to get involved with the Steve Smith Family Foundation, you can lace up your sneakers and attend this year’s annual Lace up Son 5K to support SSFF’s COVID-19 response. The code RUNCLTLACEUP will get you $10 off your ticket!
“Our foundation is not a fan club. We want fans to become active in the community,” notes Littlejohn, and SHARE could not agree with more with this GOOD sentiment!
DID YOU KNOW: The Steve Smith Family Foundation is in the running to win $5K this month thanks to the Amy and Brian France Foundation who have partnered with SHARE Charlotte for this year’s Spotlight Series and YOU can help when you VOTE NOW! You can also check out the other organizations eligible to win this month’s prize, here!