A local wellness center is trying to make a big impact in Florida courts.
Coral Springs is home to Eagles’ Haven. The wellness center was created by the nonprofit JAFCO after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which was just a mile down the road from where Eagles Haven now stands.
In 2019, after two suicides in the community, Eagles’ Haven opened its doors.
Funded by Broward County Children’s Services, the organization provides free services to the public. They provide wellness classes ranging from kickboxing to mediation and wellness.
They also provide family strengthening programs that include case management and connecting people to resources they may need.
They are also ready to support in crisis situations. “We have clinicians and licensed clinicians that provide immediate support,” shared Melissa Michelin, assistant director of Eagles’ Haven.
But their latest endeavor has perhaps brought the greatest reward. During the Parkland sentencing trial at the Broward County Courthouse, Eagles’ Haven decided to take over the unused space and provide assistance to the victims and their families.
“We were lucky enough to have three rooms that we were able to furnish and decorate to look like a mini Eagle Sanctuary in the courthouse,” Michelin explains.
These rooms were decorated to reflect the rooms inside the Eagles’ Havens headquarters. There are comfortable seats, mints, refreshments, a calm background and low lighting, creating a serene space for people to take time for themselves.
“All in all, the courts can be a really overwhelming and scary place. It can seem so cold and unpleasant,” Michelin said. “So even those facilities before we got there were just conference rooms that you could see anywhere. So the fact that they were available and the courthouse administration allowed us to decorate the rooms to make them more comfortable was life-changing for these families.”
Michelin said that during the sentencing proceedings, people could take a moment for themselves or speak with victims’ advocates.
“It’s been life-changing for them and much more than they ever expected and so needed,” she emphasized.
Eagles’ Haven hopes that these facilities can now become a permanent fixture at Broward courthouses and expand to courthouses across the state in the future.
“Any court and any legal case is difficult, and having these extra means of support and comfort makes anything that is not at all comfortable at least more bearable,” Michelin said.
Eagles’ Haven said the next major court hearing they will provide services for is Scott Peterson, which is set for February 27.
He is a former Broward County sheriff’s deputy accused of failing to confront a gunman during the Parkland shooting.
For those interested in Eagles’ Haven services, you can visit their website here.