Making Room for Growth
Gilda's Club South Florida Expands with Help from the Florida SBDC at FAU
By Shavantay Minnis
Gilda’s Club South Florida began as a way to provide free support services to cancer patients. But when Kim Praitano, the president and CEO, took over in 2016, the nonprofit had outgrown their beautifully historic 4,200 square-foot building, making it difficult to assist their clients.
“Each year more than 30,000 people in South Florida get diagnosed with cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute, but we weren't even seeing a fraction of them because we didn’t have the space,” Praitano said.
The nonprofit aims to help cancer patients with support groups, healthy lifestyle workshops, social activities and more. But, with only one handicap accessible parking spot and offices with minimal equipment for patients, they needed more room, she said.
With assistance from the Florida Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) and the Children's Services Council in Broward Gilda’s Club South Florida recently moved to a new 15,000 square-foot building. Gilda’s Club South Florida was awarded a grant that allowed them to conduct a feasibility study for conducting a capital campaign to raise money to acquire a new building. The increased space allows the nonprofit to see more patients and have the room to operate and expand their reach.
Their new space also lets Gilda’s Club South Florida host indoor and outdoor groups for cancer patients, as well as online guidance. They now have an educational center, a kitchen for nutrition and healthy living, a wellness studio for Yoga and Tai chi and a children’s room, which they plan to expand, Praitano said.
“With this new building, we can focus on our mission to help cancer patients and their families who need it, Praitano said. “I want to continue setting this organization up for sustainability and success in the future, so we never have to think about a lack of space again.”
It was the Children's Services Council, a local government entity dedicated to helping families in Broward County, that connected her with George Gadson of the Florida SBDC at FAU.
Gadson, a business consultant who works with creative economy entrepreneurs and nonprofit organizations, assisted Praitano with the expansion of her new facility. He also helped her design a plan to work with the funding consultants who would secure the proper donations.
“Having the money for the technical experts was one thing, but the guidance and support from George that was at no cost meant the world to me,” she said. “If he didn't help me fight through those challenges, I don't know if we would be in our new facility today.”