First Step’s leadership team includes (front) Gwen M. MacKenzie and (back, left to right) Phillip J. “P.J.” Brooks, Tracey Weeden, Mournira Ragsdale and Vickie Tiutyama

First Step’s leadership team includes (front) Gwen M. MacKenzie and (back, left to right) Phillip J. “P.J.” Brooks, Tracey Weeden, Mournira Ragsdale and Vickie Tiutyama

As of July 1, after a nine-month consolidation process, First Step of Sarasota and Coastal Behavioral Healthcare have officially merged and begun operations under the First Step name and brand. The core services and programs will still be available to community members in need, but organizational leadership asserts that the merger will result in stronger, more comprehensive solutions for those with mental health and addiction disorders. The merger enables the organization to further its “no wrong door” approach to social services, whereby any point of entry results in a client receiving direct services or linkage and case coordination. First Step of Sarasota is now the largest nonprofit behavioral health care agency in Sarasota County, with a long-term goal of further collaboration with area private and public entities.

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