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Florida wellness center hoping to become fixture in courtrooms

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Posted at 3:35 PM, Nov 16, 2022

A local wellness center is trying to make a big impact throughout Florida courtrooms.

Nestled in Coral Springs is Eagles’ Haven. The wellness center was created by the nonprofit JAFCO, after the shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School, which was just a mile down the road from where Eagles’ Haven currently stands.

In 2019 after two suicides in the community, Eagles’ Haven opened its doors.

The organization is funded by the Children’s Services of Broward County, providing free services to the public. They provide wellness classes ranging from kickboxing to mediation and sound healing.

They also provide family strengthening programs which include case management and connecting individuals to resources they might need.

They are also at the ready with crisis support, “We have clinicians and licensed eligible clinicians who provide that immediate support,” shared Melissa Michelin, the Eagles’ Haven Assistant Director.

But their most recent undertaking is perhaps one with the biggest reward. During the Parkland sentencing trial at the Broward County Courthouse, Eagles’ Haven decided to take unused space and provide relief to victims and their families.

“We were lucky enough to have three rooms that we were able to outfit and decorate to become like a mini Eagle’s Haven at the courthouse,” explains Michelin.

Those rooms were decorated to mirror the rooms inside of Eagles’ Havens headquarters. There is comfortable seating, mints, refreshments, a tranquil backdrop, and low lighting, creating a serene space for individuals to take time for themselves.

“The courthouses, in general, can be a really overwhelming and scary place. It can feel just so cold and not welcoming,” said Michelin. “So even those rooms before we got there were just conference rooms that you would see in any place. So the fact that they were available and the courthouse administration allowed us to be able to decorate the rooms to make them more comfortable was life changing for these families.”

Michelin said that throughout the sentencing trial, individuals could take a moment for themselves or speak with victim advocates.

“For them, it was life changing and so much more than they ever expected and so needed,” she emphasized.

Eagles’ Haven hopes that now, these rooms can become a permanent fixture in the Broward Courthouses and in the future, expand to courthouses throughout the state.

“Any trial and any court case is difficult and having those extra supports and comforts makes all the difference in making something that is not comfortable at all, at least more bearable,” said Michelin.

Eagles’ Haven said the next big trial where they will provide services is for Scott Peterson, which is set for February 27.

He is the former Broward County Sheriffs Deputy who is charged with failing to confront the gunman during the Parkland shooting.

For those interested in Eagles’ Haven services, you can visit their website here.