Project Opioid: Now Helping Florida from Miami to Jax
People work better together. Much better. So do organizations. Especially when they’re all on the same page. But neither people nor organizations can get on the same page until they unite. That’s where Project Opioid comes in.
In fact, you could say Project Opioid is on a mission to unite each and every addiction-fighting-minded leader in Florida.
That’s not limited to the traditional non-governmental organizations, mind you. Nor is it concentrated on their governmental counterparts. No, Project Opioid aims to be the kind of community organization that can liaison with any and every community organization in its sphere of influence, regardless of their composition.
Project Opioid is backed by the good folks at Florida Blue. Yes, that at first might sound like a rather odd pairing of entities. After all, front-line addiction fighters are seldom in cahoots with old line insurance companies. But when you think about all they’re up against, it isn’t so odd at all. Both have an interest in Floridians’ health, one just happens to be all encompassing while the other’s more acute. So it stands to reason they’d both be doing everything possible to confront such an acute and all-encompassing crisis.
It also stands to reason Florida Blue would help ensure Project Opioid has the muscle and the partners to fight for the entire Sunshine State. That’s right. The addiction-fighting endeavor now has four offices on the East Coast, plus one each in Tampa Bay and Orlando. (They also appear to have a seventh slated to cover the Panhandle.) And each of those offices is aligned with one of its respective region’s best-placed power player.
We’re talking enterprise, dig? Serious enterprise. The very stuff of which Florida is made, as well as what keeps it so consistently thriving. When you speak of enterprise, you begin by singling out a city’s Chamber of Commerce (or its economic equivalent). And when you wish to address the benevolence of that enterprise, you pinpoint the Chamber’s in-house Foundation.
In Jacksonville that means the Jax Chamber Foundation; in Tampa Bay it’s the Tampa Bay Partnership Foundation. And in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and the Palm Beaches, respectively, it’s the Miami-Dade Beacon Council Foundation, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance Foundation, and the Business Development Board of Palm Beach Foundation.
Andrae Bailey & Change Everything
In Project Opioid’s Orlando homebase, however, things are run straight from the headquarters of Andrae Bailey‘s Change Everything. See Bailey’s the primary mind behind the bright idea. And it’s Bailey’s vision which has given the organization its quest. From the looks of things, he looks to be just the right visionary for the job.
Bailey’s first successes were in the fields of homelessness (former president and chief executive officer of the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness) and philanthropy (instructor at the Edyth Bush Institute for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Leadership). In fact, he was — and is — so good at both Orlando magazine named him Central Florida’s number-one person of influence in the area of philanthropy in 2016’s “50 Most Powerful People” edition and the Orlando Sentinel presented him with its “Central Floridian of the Year” Award that very same year. We probably need not add that Bailey was the youngest person to have ever received the Sentinel‘s distinguished honor. But since Bailey’s too busy (and modest) to mention it himself, we will.
And we do mean busy. These days Bailey’s hands are overfull with Project Opioid, as well as Rethinking Homelessness, both of which are based in Change Everything’s headquarters. In addition, Bailey also fields a steady array of speaking engagements, podcasts and consultations wherever and whenever one of the causes request he rise to the occasion.
It’s his aligning of the troops though which truly seems to be building coalitions big enough to tackle the task at hand. Take Fort Lauderdale, for example, where Florida Blue has helped put Project Opioid with the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance. From 2007 to 2020, the Alliance and its partners generated $15.1 billion in annual economic impact throughout its Broward County home. Considering its partners include everyone from the Broward County Board of County Commissioners to the job-generating Enterprise Florida, as well as a distinguished array of the County’s most engaged municipalities, businesses and community institutions, we’re talking a coalition of stakeholders with unmistakable stakes in the game. In other words: serious players. And just the kinds of players it takes to win.
A Brighter Sunshine State
Healing Properties salutes Project Opioid’s dedication to the harrowing Opioid Epidemic. We also salute Florida Blue for giving them the strength to unite with the foundational branches of the Jax Chamber, the Tampa Bay Partnership, the Miami-Dade Beacon Council, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance, and the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County. We offer an especially strong salute to Andrae Bailey for creating such a powerful alliance. No matter how well-meaning a group, shoe-string budgets can only extend so far. Teaming with resource-rich Chambers and Florida’s largest health insurer should give Project Opioid everything they need to succeed.
It’s not all about resources, of course. Uniting Florida Blue with the big city Chambers is also a stroke of creative genius. What concerns Florida Blue more than anything? The health of its members. That has to put the Opioid Epidemic right near the top of its hit list. The Chambers, in turn, are most concerned with the economic health of each respective city or county. When member companies are ailing, it’s a sign the region is ailing as well. Losing a large chunk of its workforce to illness or death will obviously leave a region reeling.
That’s what makes Bailey’s coalition-building efforts so fresh and essential. As Project Opioid’s About Page states, “the startling new data on opioid overdose and death calls for leaders to urgently embrace a different approach to solving the overdose epidemic.” Uniting a cross section of stakeholders is the kind of different approach everyone should embrace.