The First Coast Healing Hands, Inc. (“Healing Hands”) is a 501 (c) 3 not-for-profit organization in continuous operation since 2018, established to support the important work of the First Coast Child Protection Team (CPT).

Mission:

Support the unfunded caring services of the First Coast Child Protection Team (CPT) and advocate for CPT and all children in Florida.

What is the First Coast Child Protection Team?

The First Coast Child Protection Team is a medically directed, multidisciplinary program based on the idea that child abuse and neglect involve complex issues and require the expertise of many professionals to protect children.  The team is made up of physicians, nurses, and medical professionals who complete assessments, interventions, therapy and service referrals to community agencies evaluating alleged maltreatments of child abuse and neglect. They assess risk factors and provide recommendations for interventions to protect children and enhance families’ capacities to provide a safer home environment when possible.  The team works 24/7 providing consultation by phone or through immediate, in-person emergency services – even during COVID-19.

CPT is primarily funded by a State of Florida Children’s Medical Services contract in the Florida Department of Health.  The ever-increasing number of children seen at CPT along with the severity of the injuries to the children, puts stress on resources they receive through the state.  This team serves 8 counties – Duval, Nassau, Baker, Clay, St. Johns, Putnam, Flagler, and Volusia counties.  In 2020, CPT reviewed over 28,000 State of Florida Child Abuse Hotline reports of childhood medical and victim needs; performed over 3,000 forensic/specialized interviews, performed over 2,000 medical evaluations and consultations of suspected child victims – providing referrals to therapy services, hosted training events for the community, and began the coordination of the area’s Sleep Safely Program.

We are fortunate to have very dedicated physicians and staff who provide care in this challenging area of pediatric care.  Dr. Randell Alexander is the Chief of the Division of Child Protection and Forensic Pediatrics.  Dr. Alexander has authored a number of books on child abuse that serve as texts throughout the United States and internationally. Dr. Kathleen Dully is the Medical Director of the First Coast CPT, bringing her knowledge to share with the entire Division.  We have the only 3-year child abuse fellowship in Florida working to train and retain in Florida the child abuse specialists of the future.

To report abuse, call the Florida Abuse Hotline:  800-96-ABUSE (800-962-2873) or your local law enforcement.

“You can spend a lifetime trying to forget a few minutes of your childhood.”

Kristen Butler

How does Healing Hands support the CPT?

Healing Hands Board members work to raise funds for the CPT programmatic needs that cannot be funded by the present state contract.  These needs include the following:

  • Funding to purchase diapers and new clothing for children whose clothing has been secured by law enforcement personnel as forensic evidence – particularly in sexual abuse cases.
  • Funding to purchase drinks and food to have on hand to comfort a child being seen at CPT.
  • Support the area Sleep Safely Program which has demonstrated a 76% decrease in unsafe infant sleep deaths since the program began in 2020.
  • Funding to support the costs of educational programs needed by CPT staff to ensure they remain current with the many advances in this demanding field.
  • Collect books and other reading materials for children seen in the child abuse clinics. Particularly during the time that they are being evaluated, such materials aid them in hurdling the many traumatizing aspects of the interview process.  Unfortunately, COVID has temporarily prevented the collection of reading materials to have available.

Healing Hands Board members serve as advocates on legislation for CPT and for all children.

Meet our Board of Directors

Chair – Rich Komando, JD, MBA

Rich Komando

Rich Komando received his undergraduate degree from Florida State University and his law degree from the Loyola University New Orleans, School of Law. He spent the next five years building a private law practice and then accepted a position as the Circuit Director and later as the statewide General Counsel for the Guardian ad Litem Program for the Fourth Judicial Circuit. Beginning in 2009, Rich spent the next four years working as a criminal prosecutor with the State Attorney’s Office serving as a Division Chief of the Special Prosecution Division and the Executive Director for the Fourth Judicial Circuit in Clay, Duval and Nassau counties. He prosecuted cases ranging from misdemeanors to crimes involving the death penalty while focusing on cases related to public corruption, white collar crime, organized fraud, embezzlement, arson and human trafficking. Now as an experienced trial lawyer at Bradley, Garrison, & Komando, P.A., Attorneys at Law in Orange Park, he defends clients through Northeast Florida on a wide array of issues. He continues to work as a child advocate by volunteering for the First Coast Child Protection Team Community Advisory Council and First Coast Healing Hands, Inc.

Treasurer – James Tilbrook, C.P.A.

Jim Tilbrook, CPA has an extensive background in the financial leadership and process improvement of multi-million dollar international organizations.  He is a result-oriented leader committed to motivating teams to perform at high levels in complex environments.  Jim received a BS in Accounting/Finance from Florida State University and then MBA in International Finance from Jacksonville University.  Jim has been instrumental in getting First Coast Healing Hands, Inc. identified as a 501(c)(3) organization.  He offers advice and guidance to ensure each dollar of funds donated to First Coast Healing Hands are used wisely and to ultimately benefit the children seen by the First Coast Child Protection Team.  In his employment, his major projects have been with North Florida Trane, CSC Corporation, Barbara Jeans Holdings, Inc. and LKJG, Inc. – providing international management support in China, India, Russia, Italy and Taiwan for American based companies.

Secretary – Margaret McGauley

Margaret (Mag) McGauley has served on the First Coast Child Protection Team Community Advisory Council since its inception and also serves on First Coast Healing Hands, Inc. the not-for-profit fundraising arm of the Council.

Mag’s professional experience includes involvement with the Guardian ad Litem (GAL) Program in many capacities for 34 years. Mag was one of the original GAL volunteers in Baker County. She also served as a case coordinator and later became the Circuit Director of the GAL program for the Eighth Judicial Circuit. After retiring from the court program in 2001, Mag served as statewide Executive Director for the newly formed Florida Guardian ad Litem Association, fundraising for the GAL Program. Although no longer affiliated with the Florida GAL Association, Mag remains a GAL volunteer.

Mag became a family mediator in 1991 and mediated hundreds of cases over the years as a family and civil mediator for a multi-county area and retired in June of 2019.

Director – Sandy L. Barata

Sandy L. Barata is retired from her position as Administrative Director for the Department of Pediatrics for UF Jacksonville, and continues to advocate for children serving as a Director with First Coast Healing Hands, Inc., and as a member of the First Coast Community Advisory Council.  Before retirement, Sandy in her role as Administrative Director in the Department of Pediatrics oversaw more than 100 physicians, almost 200 support staff as well as satellite primary care office.  Sandy reflects how each day was different working with Dr. Thomas Chiu, then Chair of the Department, to provide services to all children, especially those underserved.  Sandy was recognized for her leadership and advocacy efforts with selection as one of the Class of 2005 Women of Influence, appointment to the Leadership Jacksonville, appointment to the Mayor’s Council on the Status of Women, and nomination for the Jacksonville EVE Award.  Sandy was not hesitant to take on leadership roles in Shots by Two – a program UF Pediatrics coordinated with the Kiwanis reminding families about immunizations, Hubbard House – a shelter for domestic violence victims. She loves sharing moments with her family and is an original season ticket holder for her favorite NFL team – the Jacksonville Jaguars!  Her advocacy for children has been a lifelong passion.

Director – Abby Bean

Abby Bean is the Executive Director of the Nassau Education Foundation, helping connect needed resources from the local community with teachers, classrooms, and students in Nassau County.  She graduated from Jacksonville University with Bachelors degrees in History and Humanities.  After spending many years in classrooms as a stay-at-home mom and community volunteer, she joined with others to help the Nassau County School District maintain its excellent track record in education.  As the mother of three young men in college and beyond, she is interested in their future and the future of our society.  Along with her husband, Senator Aaron Bean, she wants to help provide opportunities for all children to thrive.

Director – Charmaine Chiu, JD

Charmaine is a member of the Board of Directors of the law firm Smith Hulsey & Busey and chair of the firm’s integrated Healthcare Practice Team.

She is one of only 129 attorneys certified by The Florida Bar in healthcare law and has maintained this certification since 2012.

Charmaine represents health systems and hospitals, academic medical centers, clinically integrated networks, physician group practices, and other healthcare providers in complex transactions and regulatory matters. Charmaine assists physicians and group practices in growing their reach to patients through establishment of facilities and services licensed or regulated by the State of Florida’s Agency for Healthcare Administration, including ambulatory surgery centers, pharmacies, diagnostic imaging centers, and clinical laboratories.

The Jacksonville Business Journal has recognized Charmaine as both a Women of Influence and Ultimate Attorney. Charmaine is a former Chair of both The Florida Bar Health Law Section and The Florida Bar’s Health Law Certification Committee. She is a Jacksonville native with a deep commitment to serve her community, especially those organizations with a focus on children’s welfare and the arts.

Director – Gerold L. Schiebler, M.D.

Dr. Schiebler is a graduate of Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and then onto Harvard Medical School. He accepted a “mixed” pediatric-medicine internship at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) during which he gradually gravitated toward pediatrics. After completing his internship and residency at the MGH, Dr. Schiebler elected to take his third year of pediatric residency at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis followed by a pediatric cardiac fellowship. Dr. Schiebler continued his cardiac training skills with fellowship at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. The University of Florida recruited Dr. Schiebler to accept the position of Chief of the Division of Pediatric Cardiology and Director of the Pediatric Heart Catheterization Laboratory. He soon established an outstanding pediatric cardiology division, which became noted for its research and clinical activity. Later he was appointed as Chair of the Department of Pediatrics – a position he occupied from 1968 – 1985.

Dr. Schiebler has been involved in advocacy for medical education and children’s health issues at the state and national levels for many years, making many contributions to improving children’s health. He was appointed UF associate vice president for health affairs for external relations at the University. After retiring from his position at the University of Florida in 2000, he continued advocating for children as statewide consultant for the Department of Health’s Children’s Medical Services, a program for children with special health care needs. Due to his knowledge of the legislative process and passion for all children, his guidance is sought by child advocates throughout the nation. His late wife, Audrey, asked that he continue her efforts for abused and neglected children, and he remains an active member of the First Coast CPT Community Advisory Council and the #1 fundraiser for First Coast Healing Hands, Inc.

In every neighborhood, all across our country, there are good people insisting on a good start for the young and doing something about it.

Fred Rogers

First Coast Child Protection Team is unique in Florida for having two advisory councils to call upon for guidance, support and advocacy.
  • First Coast Community Advisory Council
    The Community Advisory Council is made up of strong community advocates for children, each bringing their own variety of experiences and talents to assist CPT. When challenges or barriers in providing care are identified, their vast knowledge and willingness to step up to develop solutions is inspiring. Representatives from this council make up the Board of Director of First Coast Healing Hands.

Current members of this council are:
Theresa Simak, JD, Chair of the Community Advisory Council – Assistant State Attorney
Michael Aubin – President, Wolfson Children’s Hospital
Sandy L. Barata – Past Administrative Director of the Department of Pediatrics, University of Florida – Jacksonville
Abby Bean – Executive Director, Nassau Education Foundation
Charmaine Chiu, JD – Member of the Board of Directors of the law firm Smith Hulsey & Busey and chair of the firm’s integrated Healthcare Practice Team.
Jay Howell, JD – Attorney who represents victims of accidents and injuries, including all victims of criminal acts
Lorelei Jacobs – Grant Administrator for City of Fernandina Beach
Rich Komando, JD, MBA – Attorney, past involvement with Guardian Ad Litem and long-time advocate for children
James A. Kowalski, Jr., JD – Attorney, Executive Director of Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, Inc.
Helen Marrone, JD – Attorney and community advocate for children
Margaret “Mag” McGauley – Guardian ad litem volunteer
Stacy Pendarvis – Vice President – Programs, Monique Burr Foundation for Children, Inc.
James Tilbrook, CPA, MBA – Child Advocate along with sharing his financial wisdom

  • First Coast CPT Operations Advisory Council
    First Coast CPT Operations Advisory Council members are representatives from the organizations that CPT works with throughout the year. The quarterly meetings of these agency representatives at CPT allows time for discussion of any processes that might need to be changed, replaced, or streamlined in providing care to these children.

Members of the Operations Advisory Council represent the following agencies:
Baker County Sheriff’s Office
Children’s Legal Services
Children’s Medical Services, coordinates services for children with special needs
City of Fernandina Beach
Clay County Sheriff’s Office
Department of Children and Families
Duval County Medical Examiner
Family Integrity Program, manage the foster care program in St. Johns County
Florida Department of Law Enforcement
Guardian ad Litem Program
Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office
Nassau County Family Support Services
Naval Criminal Investigative Services – SE Field Office
Putnam County Sheriff’s Office
Quigley House – Clay County – Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center
St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office
State Attorney’s Office
UF Health Jacksonville
Volusia County Sheriff’s Office
Wolfson Children’s Hospital
Women’s Center of Jacksonville

“If we don’t stand up for children, then we don’t stand for much.” 

Marian Wright Edelman

Special Initiatives

Jay’s Closet is named in honor of the Jay M. Whitworth, M.D. – a dedicated physician who created the idea of a multi-disciplinary Child Protection Teams in Florida.  Dr. Whitworth saw the need to have snacks, clothing and personal items available for the children seen at CPT.  New clothing of all sizes – boys and girls – from XXXXS to XXXXL – are kept on hand in case a child’s clothing is secured by law enforcement personnel as forensic evidence – particularly in sexual abuse cases. 

Dr. Whitworth was a Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Florida College of Medicine Jacksonville, Chief of the Division of Pediatric Nephrology and a champion for hurt and helpless children. His training at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore was in pediatric nephrology.  Without other sources of help for children who were suspected of having been sexually abused or neglected, these children would be referred to Dr. Whitworth. In the mid-1970s Dr. Whitworth developed an interest in protecting children who were sexually and physically abused, which became his passion for the rest of his life. He worked to create the concept of a statewide Child Protection Team system in Florida and led that program for more than 20 years.  He trained physicians on child abuse issues within Florida and internationally. He introduced the concept of child abuse prevention to China and lectured in Colombia, England and Ireland.

Dr. Whitworth served on a number of national child abuse committees and worked with the American Academy of Pediatrics in helping to develop the study and treatment of child abuse as a pediatric subspecialty.

Dr. Whitworth was the author of nine textbook chapters on child abuse and multiple other publications and co-authored the national guidelines for the evaluation of child physical and sexual abuse for the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics. For the last 10 years of his life, he was a national leader in the development of telemedicine for child abuse assessments. Now, there is a subspecialty 3-year Fellowship training in child abuse with Board certification.

Jay’s Closet is located at the First Coast Child Protection Team offices, at 4539 Beach Boulevard, Jacksonville, FL 32207. 

If you or your company are interested in donating items on the needs list below, please contact Laurel Conderman for pickup. We can deliver plastic tote containers for you to fill for children served by the CPT.  The need is ongoing, especially for snacks and drinks.  Once filled, we will also pick-up and extend our most sincere appreciation and thanks.  All clothing items need to be new due to public health regulations.  We call these plastic tote containers “Simak boxes” in honor of the Chair of the First Coast CPT Community Advisory Council who initially suggested placing totes in various workplace locations to collect donations for CPT. 

Jay’s Closet needs list:
Juice drink boxes
Small bottles of water
Goldfish crackers
Applesauce
Travel size toiletries
Toothbrushes
Panties and underwear (boys and girls – all sizes)
Diapers (all sizes)
New clothing (boys and girls, all sizes XXXXS – XXXXL)
Movies (DVD only)
Books for the lobby (hardback and coloring) 

Sleep Safely Program – The ABCs of safe sleep include – A–Alone, B-Back, C-Crib
In 2019, the Florida Department of Children and Families reported 69 sleep-related infant deaths in Florida. Tragically, Duval County saw the highest rate of unsafe sleep deaths per capita in all of Florida. The Florida Child Abuse Death Review Team identified unsafe sleep environments as the #1 cause of child fatalities, with drowning and trauma distant second and third causes. The education of our community about deaths due to unsafe sleep environments was not addressed effectively before the Sleep Safely Program began in January 2020 funded by the Florida Department of Health. The goal was to provide this education to the families of the approximately 15,000 babies born in our area each year about the ABC’s of Safe Sleep – Alone-Back-Crib – to decrease/prevent such heartbreaking deaths. As part of this program, each family with a newborn receives brief training, a tote bag with a special children’s book – Sleep Baby Safe & Snug, the ABC checklist, electric safety plug covers – all with the ABC logo to serve as reminders to the family about safe sleep environments at a cost of about $3 to $4 per tote. This children’s book – Sleep Baby Safe & Snug was actually written by a family who did suffer such a tragedy in their own family, and they are passionate about sharing this education about safe sleep environments.

Birthing hospitals and staff have embraced and been enthusiastic about including this information to each newborn’s family before hospital discharge. Volunteers to put the tote bags together have come from the University of North Florida, high school students and area community volunteers. This is truly a community-wide effort. When the funding for the program was exhausted in mid-2020, First Coast Healing Hands, Inc. stepped up to support this effective practice, because all could see the importance and impact of continuing this life-saving program.