Safe Children Coalition of Sarasota announces 2024 ‘Champions for Children’

Child welfare organization to recognize individuals during the second annual Giving Breakfast, set for March 2024

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Earlier this year, child welfare organization Safe Children Coalition of Sarasota presented its first Giving Breakfast, during which four “Champions for Children” were recognized for their contributions to caring for children in the community, as well as for their support of the Coalition and their advocacy on behalf of it, a news release points out.

In March 2024, the organization will present its second, annual Giving Breakfast, during which Joan and Bob Geyer, Graci McGillicuddy and Melissa Larkin-Skinner will be recognized, the release says.

The Geyers, are the founders of Academy at Glengary in Sarasota and Academy at Bradenton, the release notes. Joan Geyer’s longtime volunteer work and advocacy for community-based care/child welfare issues as a Guardian Ad Litem, Family Safety Alliance member and a volunteer with Safe Children Coalition “aligns with her philosophy of ‘finding felt needs,’ which exemplifies a commitment to providing support to those who are experiencing a gap in care, whether the advocacy is for children or adults experiencing mental illness,” the release explains. “The mission of the Academy organizations is to create a working community where adults can improve mental health through friendship, healthy lifestyles, skill development and careers,” the release says.

Larkin-Skinner, the CEO of Centerstone of Florida, “has advocated for children and adults for three decades,” the release continues. “What began as a volunteer assignment” with the Rape Crisis Center led to her work with outpatient, inpatient, crisis intervention, intensive community-based care, and child welfare efforts, the release adds. “She designed and implemented the first children’s Community Action Treatment (CAT) team in 2004,” which was adopted as Florida’s statewide model to serve youth struggling with severe mental health and behavioral disorders and their families, the release points out.

Further, Larkin-Skinner “led the rapid expansion of treatment services in response to the opioid epidemic, including Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) in hospitals, clinics, and jail-based sites,” the release notes. In 2016, she was recognized as Administrator of the Year by the Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association.

Larkin-Skinner also serves as the board chair of the Florida Behavioral Health Association and as the Speaker of the House representative on the State of Florida Commission on Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders, the release says.
“McGillicuddy has been a committed child advocate since 1986, when she read an article about an 18-month-old baby, Shannon Nicole, who died after her mother and stepfather brutally abused her,” the release points out. “Ending child abuse became her lifelong calling.”

Then, the release continues, in 2017, “she broke ground on the All Star Children’s Foundation’s Campus of Hope and Healing, which celebrated its grand opening in 2020,.” The release adds, “All Star is a state-of-the-art, 5-acre campus comprising six family-style foster homes, as well as an on-site Pediatric Mental Health Treatment and Research Center. The campus is designed to provide trauma-informed treatment for children in foster care.”

McGillicuddy “has received numerous awards for her commitment and dedication to keeping children safe,” the release points out, and she “is a recognized philanthropic leader in our community.” She serves as chair of the board of All Star Children’s Foundation and as a member of the board of the Child Protection Center, “where she previously spearheaded a $6 million capital campaign,” the release notes.

The Giving Breakfast will take place on Thursday, March 14, at 8 a.m. at Michael’s On East, which is located at 1212 East Avenue S. in Sarasota, the release says.

The Giving Breakfast is a sponsored event, the release adds; sponsorships may be purchased online at

For questions regarding sponsorships and/or the event, contact Safe Children Coalition’s vice president of communications & community engagement, Jacqueline House, at or 941-371-4799, Ext. 1127.