PARKLAND, FL- Two Parkland women won the prestigious Esther Lowenthal Community Service Award for their effort with the nonprofit Parkland Cares. Stacey Udine and Pam Aks are the Executive Director and Director of Operations, respectively, for Parkland Cares and its mission to support the ongoing needs of mental health in our community.

"I was humbled and honored to win the community award," stated Udine. "When the founder of the organization, Howard Dvorkin called me to help lead Parkland Cares as the Executive Director I knew that It was my time to step up and start using all the connections and experience I had built. We have a lot of work to do and I am thankful that he asked me and that I can represent Parkland Cares in the Parkland/Coral springs community."

Udine has been very pleased with the progress of Parkland Cares and serving the local community. "Parkland Cares is helping so many people get the help they need. Therapy is no longer a stigma and we need to keep stressing that. I receive phone calls on a daily basis from community members thanking me for helping to provide the services we do at minimal or no charge to family members seeking much needed help," she says.

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The goal of Parkland Cares is to to make it easier for survivors and the community to help find resources to provide mental health counseling. 

"Our mission is to provide immediate and long term funding and awareness for mental health counseling for the MSD shooting survivors, their families, and the community at large. We've helped hundreds of people and our work is just beginning as people are now realizing a year and a half later that they need help," Udine adds.

Parkland Cares has already awarded $239,000 towards mental health and continues to look for ways to raise funds as the the need continues. The web site parklandcares.org is currently accepting applications from non profit oranizations that need funding. Parkland Cares is also open to support from local businesses .

"We must eliminate the stigma of getting mental health counseling," says Udine. "Our work has just begun!"