St. Pete's CALL program selected for the NFL's $200,000 social justice grant

The Community Assistance and Life Liaison (CALL) program is receiving national recognition. It was selected to receive $200,000 as part of the NFL's Inspire Change social justice initiative. 

Gulf Coast JFCS CALL Community Navigators and their clinical health team, in partnership with the St. Petersburg Police Department, are dispatched to non-violent, non-criminal calls to provide a therapeutic, wrap-around response.

Since the program, CALL said it has completed 7,616 contacts (a combination of live calls, follow-ups, and referrals), served more than 3,000 people, and received over 1,000 officer referrals.

RELATED: St. Pete’s CALL Program serves more than 3,000 people in first year, city council extends program

"Through the Social Justice grants, Players Coalition and the NFL's Inspire Change initiative continue to invest in, and support organizations that are most effectively bringing together law enforcement and community advocates to meet the community needs and create positive change in local policing and policy," Takeo Spikes, Players Coalition Advocate and Executive Task Force Member, and NFL Legend said in a release. "This commitment to improve social justice through innovative solutions and community-based approaches is where we believe the greatest impact will be had."

St. Petersburg police reports a 17% reduction in suicide deaths since the CALL program’s launch despite a 60% increase in calls to the police department related to suicide.

"Just the ability to have national recognition for the work that we've been doing, how our model is a little bit different," Megan McGee with the St. Pete Police Department said. "We feel like we're in a whole new league. No pun intended. This allows us to have an opportunity to expand services."

Those additional services will include more programs to help the youth and homeless communities.

READ: Psychologists struggle to provide needed care as demand for mental health services increases

"It'll start in the new year. We're going to use it to pay attention to some youth needs in the community and divert them from law enforcement," Nicole Guincho, Gulf Coast JFCS vice president of Clinical Services, said. "Hiring a youth engagement specialist that can spend some additional time with the youth that we're interfacing with and also maybe do some respite housing for the homeless."

The CALL program was one of five selected across the country for the grant.

If you or a loved one is feeling distressed, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The crisis center provides free and confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to civilians and veterans. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (tel:18002738255). Or text HOME to 741-741 (Crisis Text Line).

Click here to learn more about the warning signs and risk factors of suicide. Call 1-800-273-TALK for free and confidential emotional support.