The Columbus Organization

Support Coordination in Florida

The Columbus Organization now offers support coordination services through its new subsidiary, Support Associates.  Founded in 2000, Support Associates is a Florida Medicaid Waiver provider specifically for the Agency for Persons with Disabilities ibudget Waiver.   Support Associates has been committed to supporting the citizens of Florida with intellectual and developmental disabilities and will continue to offer the highest quality care as part of the Columbus family.

CDC+(Consumer Directed Care Plus ) is an alternative option for persons participating in the State of Florida ibudget Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) Medicaid Waiver. The program provides the opportunity for individuals to improve the quality of their lives by being empowered to make choices about the supports and services that will meet their needs and to help them reach their goals.

The Columbus Organization of Florida has well trained and qualified staff with years of experience providing Consultant Services to those individuals who choose to participate on the CDC Plus program. We provide a team support of resources to help support you in this program.

To find out more about the CDC+ Waiver Program go to apdcares.org—Waivers Tab–Consumer Directed Care Plus

or view more information on this Youtube link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjz6llFWPf4

Services

  • Support coordination services
  • Training services to support coordinators throughout Florida
  • We provide Family and Consumer information sessions on Waiver Services
  • Waiver provider Staff Training sessions
  • Partner with community agencies to provider information and educational sessions such as Department of Education in Transition Fairs

Through our person-centered approach, the individuals and families we support have more choice, personal power, and control of their lives. We believe individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities should be valued and given the same opportunities to reach their potential as those without disabilities.  With a dedication to quality, experience, and compassion, we believe everyone deserves the opportunity to have a meaningful life. 

Turning 18? You have options!

Click the link below for a guide on next steps and preparing for the future

www.Turning18.org

Resources

Contact Us

Rebecca Spadola
Florida Director of Operations
Phone: 813-340-6786
Email: rlspadola@columbusorg.com

Lynda DeBenedet
Florida Director of Care Coordination
Phone: 813-765-0112
Email: lrdebenedet@columbusorg.com

Florida Office

Phone: 813-908-6773

Fax: 813-908-0423

16112 N. Florida Ave

Lutz, FL 33459

 

Looking for Florida Waiver Support Coordination Training? Click here to visit our Training Page

 


Meet Our Florida Team

 

Rebecca S. (Florida Director of Operations): Rebecca joined The Columbus Organization, January 1, 2019 as part of Support Associates of Tampa Bay’s acquisition to Columbus. Rebecca co-founded Support Associates of Tampa Bay, Inc. in 2000 with the express purpose to bring person-oriented service to individuals with disabilities, and to recognize the unique challenges case managers face to manage work/life balance in serving the needs of others. She loves her role in training Support Coordinators to elevate the profession within the State of Florida. Rebecca has been a professional in the field of Disabilities for 35 years. She has worked in Vermont, Massachusetts, and Florida. She has been a Waiver Support Coordinator in Florida since June 1994. She has worked in all areas of care for persons with disabilities within the three states from deinstitutionalization to community services development. She has worked with individuals diagnosed with Developmental Disabilities, Traumatic Brain Injury, Cystic Fibrosis, Complex medical and behavioral needs along with individuals with Dual Diagnoses. Rebecca holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Castleton University in Vermont. She was Vice Chair of Florida Association of Support Coordinators for several years within the State of Florida, along with special interest committees to identify and advocate for needs of individuals. Rebecca has lived in Tampa for 25 years with her two Sons, Ted and Evan. She has held positions on numerous committees for her sons’ various interests and schools. Tom, Rebecca’s Husband, always helps her maintain work/life balance through their love of spending time with their sons, Savannah(their Dog), sports, cooking, entertaining, and travelling to see family and friends.

Lynda (Florida Director of Care Coordination): Lynda is Currently Florida Director of Care Coordination for the Columbus Organization. Prior to joining the Columbus team was Co-owner of Support Associates of Tampa Bay for over 19 years which provided Case Management services and Community education to individuals with disabilities. She has worked in the field providing supports to individuals with disabilities for over 35 years. Her experiences range from working with Traumatic Brain and Spinal Cord Injury, medially at Risk and Development Disabilities. She holds a certification as Brian Injury Specialist from the Academy of Certified Brain Injury Specialist/Brain Injury Association of America. Migrated to Florida from Canada in the mid 90’s with her family. Originally a Graduate of the University of Western Ontario. She has dedicated her career to working with and supporting individuals with disabilities.

Kelli (Regional Director): Kelli has a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling and over 20 years of experience providing intervention and case management services for at risk and special needs populations in the North Florida area. Kelli has worked with a variety of clients in their home and community settings through several organizations such as Community Intervention and Research Center and the Child Protection Team through Children’s Home Society of Florida. Her experience involving family support, case management, and program administration has enhanced her ability to serve people in her community. Kelli strongly believes in individual rights. She has a passion for assisting individuals and their families to access and utilize available resources necessary for a productive, fulfilling life. Kelli joined the HMS team in 2012, and was promoted to Assistant Director in 2016. She joins the Columbus team as a Regional Director for Northwest and Northeast Florida.

Wendy: Wendy grew up in Old Saybrook on the coast of CT. Wendy is a graduate from Roger Williams University in Rhode Island with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. Wendy moved to Florida soon after graduating college. Her first job in the field was at Tampa Bay Academy working with Adolescents and Children with various mental health needs. She worked PRN, then 6 months later found a job with Mental Health Care, Inc as a Case Manager working with Adults diagnosed with Mental Illness. She worked there for 7 years until she had her second child became a stay at home mother. During the time she was at home, she kept busy volunteering at the preschool as a substitute teacher, then joined the PTA when my children were in elementary school. My position was Special Events Coordinator, planning and organizing all the events at the school throughout the year. During the 7 years at home, Wendy also tutored Algebra and worked at the YMCA in the Nursery. When Wendy decided to go back to work, she was hired as a Waiver Support Coordinator with Support Associates of Tampa Bay. She celebrated 10 years in August, 2019. She has worked as a Support Coordinator in the APD HCBS waiver as well as the ACF and TBSCI Waivers. Wendy has 2 grown children, her daughter is 19 and her son is 17. She loves to go fishing and is in a fishing club based in Apollo Beach, FL. Wendy participates in fishing tournaments and has placed in a few. Her favorite place to be is on a boat fishing whether in the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic off the coast of New England.

Gina: Gina received her BA in Criminology from University of South Florida and her master’s degree from University of Phoenix. She has been providing Case Management and Life Skills training since 1996 in the areas of Domestic Violence, Homelessness, Developmental Disabilities, Cystic Fibrosis, and Traumatic Brain Injury. Gina has conducted Functional Living Assessments across the country for individuals diagnosed with a Traumatic Brain Injury and has worked closely with many Personal Injury Attorneys. Gina is experienced, compassionate and a dedicated Medicaid Waiver Support Coordinator and Life Skills Facilitator, with a passion for case management and working with adults, children, families and seniors. Exceptional problem solving and organizational skills and community resourcing. 

Kristin: Kristin has been a Waiver Support Coordinator for Support Associates since May 2018. Prior to this position, she was a High School Guidance Counselor at River Ridge High School where she provided school counseling to the entire Junior class. She is an Experienced counselor with comprehensive experience in grief counseling, assessments, coordinating care, substance abuse and referrals. 10+ years of combined recruiting, counseling, and educational development. She is a dedicated Counselor/Educator bringing 10 years’ experience in mental health, school counseling curriculum and development, and supervision. Comfortable working with all backgrounds and highly experienced with School Counseling, Mental Health Counseling, and Advising Students from Pre-k-Post College. She is currently working on her E.D.D in Counselor Education & Supervision and is working on a dissertation that shows the impact of trauma-sensitive yoga in working with war veterans diagnosed with PTSD. Outside of her professional life, Kristin is a wife to a 15-year Marine Veteran and mother to a 2-year old daughter named Harlow and 8-year old step-son named Cullen. She also is a dog mom to Black Mouth Cur, Beretta and Sheltie, Maddox. Her interests include: trapeze yoga, shooting a bow and arrow, fishing, and traveling.

Amelia: Amelia was born and raised in Dominican Republic. People always said I was a people person but I never knew what that was until I got my first job at a group home for kids with Aids. That’s when life itself started to make sense to me. I went to law school in Dominican Republic and served as a lawyer for some years. I worked at the UN in Haiti for the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti. I moved to Florida not too long ago where I decided to work as a Waiver Support Coordinator. I joined the Columbus Organization in February, 2019. I have 2 children and a great supporting husband that will never understand why I walked away from my law background.

Lisa: Lisa’s passion is creating environments where adults with special needs can thrive. Lisa worked as a Director in a residential group home for teenage girls who experience trauma. In this role Lisa could see firsthand the challenges that foster teens face when they did not receive timely planning and support. A big proponent for postsecondary access for youth in foster care, Lisa also took on the role of educational advocate, where she regularly collected the student’s educational data, and regularly attended teacher-parent conferences for student progress, and classroom engagement. In addition, Lisa worked with the young adults in their transition to life outside of foster care with finding housing, education, and employment.
Lisa is no stranger to working with youth with special needs, she has more than decade experience working with youth with exceptional needs. She worked as a Special educator teacher, where she assisted general education staff, provided consultation, IEP coordination and support at the school site level. She has knowledge and a thorough understanding of special education law and the child welfare system. She was a Special Education Specialist in curriculum and instruction with expert knowledge in learning theory for students with disabilities. She earned a Master of Science degree in Special Education, and completed her undergraduate degree in Social Sciences at Adelphi University. She holds teacher certification in Special Education K to 12 and an Educational Leadership certification in the state of Florida and Maryland. 

“If you have a strong purpose in life, you don’t have to be pushed. Your passion will drive you there.” -Roy T. Bennett

Andrew: Andrew, B.S in Criminal Justice. I am a graduate of Union College, Barbourville, KY. My favorite part of being a Waiver Support Coordinator is, being able to truly help individuals and their families. I enjoy seeing their life improve. I enjoy seeing them achieve their goals. I go home every night feeling like I have made a difference in the world. I was born and raised both in the Tennessee and Kentucky Appalachian mountains. My parents and grandparents were educators and social workers. So with that upbringing, I feel pulled to work in this field. Hobbies I enjoy, I am a musician, and I love Hunting/Fishing.

Amy: Amy has a Master’s Degree in Social Work and has a lifetime of experience working and living with persons with developmental disabilities. She has a variety of experience involving family support, case management, and program administration. She has worked in a variety of public and social service settings with diverse populations. Amy believes everyone is uniquely special and should have the opportunities to grow and pursue the life they imagine. Her resourceful and creative nature is a plus in helping others reach their goals.

Brian: Brian earned his Bachelor’s degree in Psychology at FAMU. Brian has a variety of experience in case management and mental health services. Brian has devoted many volunteer hours to programs such as Red Cross, Farm Share, DJJ, Leon county health department and 211 Big Bend. Brian has a history of caring for clients with mental health issues and brings compassion and caring to HMS. Brian joined Habilitation Management Services in 2014.

Juli: Juli began working as a Support Coordinator with Habilitation Management Services in 2014. Prior to joining HMS, Juli worked with people with developmental disabilities in Illinois for 5 years as a QIDP at a Day Program, and for 10 years as a Support Coordinator. She has a degree in Philosophy, and graduate work in Communication Disorders. Juli has participated in numerous trainings over the years, with a special focus on Autism Spectrum Disorders. Juli also has past experience working with special needs children as a music and creative movement/dance teacher. 

Karen: Karen has a degree in sociology and has over 20 years experience working with developmental disabilities. She has extensive experience with individuals with multiple disabilities and has worked in the ICF/DD setting. Karen sees herself as a strong advocate and is always able to see a person’s strengths and talents. She believes that strong family and community supports are important to all people including those with developmental disabilities. Karen has worked at Habilitation Management Services since 1996.

Karla: Karla has a variety of experience working with people in all stages of their lives. Karla has been working with people with developmental disabilities for many years now and finds her job very rewarding. Her love for people is obvious by her hard work and dedication to her consumers and their families. Karla’s positive outlook on life drives her relationships with those around her, encouraging them to want all that life has in store for them. She advocates strongly for people with developmental disabilities to receive the care they particularly need to experience life in its fullest capacity. Karla has worked for Habilitation Management Services for over 18 years.

Katie: Katie graduated from Florida State University where she obtained her Undergraduate degree in Social Sciences. Katie has a long history in her community of being a vigilant and effective advocate for a variety of vulnerable populations. Over the last 10 years Katie has been active in the field of Community Based Care and Case Management. Katie currently works as a Medicaid Waiver Support Coordinator. Katie assists individuals with disabilities, though a variety of services; including educating about resources available in the area; as well as promoting good health and wellbeing. Katie is passionate building community relationships and helping the individuals she works become more self-sufficient and progress as active members in their communities. Katie joined the HMS/Columbus team in October 2019.

Lisa: Lisa has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Florida A&M University. Lisa is driven to live with purpose and strives to help others achieve their goals and attain contentment. Lisa has years of experience ensuring the wellbeing of others. She has been an advocate for children and families as a Case Manager with Children’s Home Society. She also has years of experience working to protect the public as a Regulatory Specialist for the Florida Department of Health. Lisa enjoys living in this community and cherishes the natural beauty of the parks and greenways of Leon and surrounding counties. Lisa appreciates the importance of individual freedom of choice and self-determination. Lisa aims to help ensure that individuals feel safe, supported, and integrated in their communities. Lisa came to Habilitation Management Services in 2018.

Pat: Pat has a degree in education and has devoted over 25 years to teaching in public schools. She has also worked in an inpatient psychiatric program that specializes in individuals with developmental disabilities. In this program, Pat had the opportunity to work with individuals with cognitive challenges, autism, and other disabilities. Rearing her own child with disabilities, Pat understands the challenges and joys families face working with different agencies, people, and programs. Pat believes in the unique talents of every individual and the right to nourish that talent. Pat has worked at Habilitation Management Services for 14 years.

Shannon: Shannon graduated from Florida A&M University with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work. She has experience in case management and working with children and adults with disabilities in a variety of settings. Shannon believes in educating her consumers on life skills to help them live as independently as possible. Shannon also strongly believes in the importance of educating on responsibility and safety in the community. Shannon joined Habilitation Management Services in 2017.

Stacye: Stacye has a Master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling and earned her Certification as a Rehabilitation Counselor. She worked for several years as a Rehabilitation Counselor assisting individuals with various disabilities to obtain employment or continue their education. She also worked as a Case Manager in a Domestic Violence Shelter. Stacye enjoys helping people and truly believes everyone has a right to pursue their dreams and enjoy life to the fullest. Stacye came to Habilitation Management Services in 2017.

Suzi: Suzi earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Physiology from the University of Sunderland in the UK. Suzi has worked as a direct service provider and support coordinator in the UK and USA since 1994. Suzi has supported individuals with developmental disabilities in a variety of community settings and has extensive experience supporting persons with profound developmental disabilities and autism. Suzi has lived in the USA since 2007, but still retains her British accent, much to the amusement of others. Suzi joined Habilitation Management Services in 2017.

Tracy: Tracy has been a long time resident of Tallahassee, and she graduated from Florida State University in 1993 with a Bachelor’s in Social Work. Tracy began working for the Department of Children and Families in 1994 as an Adoption Facilitator. Tracy worked for DCF for over 20 years and in that time she served clients with both developmental and physical disabilities and placed many children in forever homes. Tracy joined Habilitation Management Services in 2017. Her sparkling personality is appreciated by everyone.

Wanda: Wanda graduated from the University of West Florida with a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Management with a minor in Psychology. She later graduated with a Master’s of Science in Theology from Covenant Bible College and Seminary in Tallahassee, Florida. She has worked for a number of years in social services with diverse population of families through Section 8 rental assistance program throughout the Florida Panhandle helping families acquire decent, safe, and sanitary housing. Wanda has also worked with families with developmental disabilities striving to maintain independent living by use of rental assistance and networking with resources in the community to help achieve that goal. She is passionate about individuals having a freedom of choice to live independently and have access to services to help them make an informed decision on life skills that enhance their quality of life. Wanda joined Habilitation Management Services in 2012.

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