VERO BEACH — Two key representatives from the State of Florida, Department of Children and Families were in Ft. Pierce on Tuesday for a special ceremony to recognize local philanthropist, Ellie McCabe, for her work in the area of mental health and addictions.
The presentation took place in the courtroom of Circuit Judge Cynthia Cox immediately prior to St. Lucie County’s eighth Mental Health Court graduation, in which 39 people were also recognized for successfully completing the court’s program. David Sofferin, Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Abuse, and Peter Digre, Assistant Secretary of Operations, presented Mrs. McCabe with two awards including the 2009 Statewide Dependency Summit Judicial Circuit Award and the Circuit 19 DCF Substance Abuse and Mental Health Collaborative Partnership Award. Mr. Sofferin followed with a keynote address to the mental health court graduates.
Dr. George Woodley, program administrator for Substance Abuse and Mental Health in DCF’s Circuit 19, nominated Mrs. McCabe for the awards. Mrs. McCabe is the president of The Robert F. and Eleonora W. McCabe Foundation, located in Vero Beach. For the past nine years she has focused her philanthropy on improving the continuum of mental health care in the local community. In 2008, Mrs. McCabe provided funding for the University of Florida to establish a satellite office of the Department of Psychiatry in Vero Beach. The iniative has significantly increased the number of psychiatrists now practicing in the area. The office, known as the UF Center for Psychiatry and Addiction Medicine, focuses on recruiting and training the next generation of psychiatrists and addiction medicine physicians for the Treasure Coast.
Unaware that she was nominated for the awards, the presentation was a surprise to Mrs. McCabe. Upon accepting the honors she said, “My support of those suffering from mental illness has been the most meaningful philanthropic work I have ever accomplished.”