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FGCU Students Host Evening to Showcase Artwork, Poetry and Song Created by Vince Smith Center Residents

It was an evening of sharing artwork, poetry and song created by SalusCare’s Vince Smith Center residents thanks to the efforts of five Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) students in Professor Jacqueline Salmond’s “Foundations of Civic Engagement” class.

Vince Smith provides inpatient treatment for males and females ages 13 – 17 with a substance dependence diagnosis.  Education is provided through the Lee County School District in an in-house classroom for grades 7-12, and the typical length of stay is 3-4 months.

FGCU Students and Vince Smith Center Staff display artwork created by the Vince Smith Center residents.
FGCU Students and Vince Smith Center Staff display artwork created by the Vince Smith Center residents.

FGCU students Kristina Neckar, Michael Babin, Jarrod Neubert, Matthew Bunting and Julia Costello planned and organized the “Healing Through Reading” event on November 21 as part of a class project, with the assistance of Lee County Schools’ teacher Barbara Knapp, who works as a teacher at the Center.

“Not only did the FGCU students work on the event logistics, but several of them spent hours with Vince Smith residents, helping them create amazing artwork and emotion-filled poetry and song,” said Steven Hill, Director of the Vince Smith Center.  “Our residents and their families enjoyed themselves immensely, thanks to the efforts of these students.  For some, it was the first time they had seen their loved ones since entering Vince Smith for treatment and this event gave the residents a creative outlet and a stage from which to share.”

In a poem written and read by one 15-year-old resident of the Vince Smith Center, she writes “I am no longer the person I was. I am no longer the person I thought I was. I am no longer the person everyone tried to say I was.  I have great aspirations now.  I know life won’t always be easy . . . but I’m strong enough to handle it now.  I am sober and I am free.”

“Several of my students have spoken with me about how rewarding the entire experience has been and I thank SalusCare and the Vince Smith Center staff for helping them to learn through interaction,” said FGCU Professor Jacqueline Salmond.

SalusCare was formed July 1, 2013 with the merger of Lee Mental Health and Southwest Florida Addiction Services into one new non-profit organization. SalusCare offers outpatient and residential treatment for individuals with mental illness and substance use disorders from seven locations in Lee County and one in Hendry County. The multi-faceted agency also offers detoxification services for adults, prevention programming and an Employee Assistance Program for about 60 area companies. The majority of programs are accredited by CARF, the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities. SalusCare is a United Way agency. For more information, call (239) 332-6937 or visit

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