Health Hero

Health Hero

Lisa Moseley’s Fundraising Prowess Brings New Visibility to Peace River Center

by TIM CRAIG

Lisa Moseley would likely never use the term “hero” to describe herself, but to those who know her, the word “champion” may spring to mind. 

Moseley is one of the Peace River Center’s most vocal champions, chairing one of its most important fundraisers, proudly spreading the news of the wide variety of services that are available to anyone who needs it. 

Moseley got involved with the Peace River Center several years ago at the behest of her good friend and then-Chief Development Officer Margaret Parry. Moseley volunteered to take books and crafts to the organization’s domestic violence shelter and work with children there. “It was easy to see that this place was there for everybody, regardless of who they were,” Moseley says. “Unfortunately, in Polk County, it’s sometimes difficult to get in to see people, especially for people who need and deserve to be seen.”

It was at Parry’s invitation that Moseley and her husband Steve began attending Peace River’s annual fundraiser, Full Moon Howl, about 12 years ago. Seven years ago, Moseley was asked to be a part of the planning committee for the event. In 2017, she was asked to chair event.

“That was a time when there was a shift from the core group. Without them, we wouldn’t be where we are today,” she says. “So to take over was a scary, but easy yes.”

The event takes nearly a year to plan. Typically held at the Rockin’ H Ranch, Full Moon Howl sees about 600 people descend on the ranch for food, a full bar, and the annual Beef Up Auction.

“We have a great team, and we have a lot of fun doing it,” she says.

The event has grown over the past three years under Moseley’s care. This past February, she and her group helped raise more than $270,000, the most in the event’s history.

“We have definitely been blessed,” says Moseley. 

“The committee works hard, and the Polk County businesses and individuals are so generous for this event. It makes me proud to be from Polk County.”

Through the years, the event has helped Peace River Center grow into the largest social services organizations in the region. The Center was founded in the late 1940s in response to the community’s concern for the emotional and psychological well-being of children. Over time, that mission expanded to include adults. In the early 1970s, the Peace River Center established a community health center as an alternative to treatment at the state hospital. In the late 1970s, the Center opened the first of two domestic violence shelters. The Peace River Center has grown to include 27 locations providing 30 programs, including a 24-hour crisis line, a rape crisis center, substance abuse treatment and one of the only child-specific intake facilities for juveniles who are placed under a Baker Act. This may prevent children being taken to a facility that holds adults.

Through her work with Peace River Center and Full Moon Howl, the Lakeland resident was honored as the 2018 Volunteer of the Year by the Association of Fundraising Professionals of Greater Polk County at its annual National Philanthropic Day breakfast.

“The Center is such a great resource, and the general population needs to know what it’s about,” she says. “They need to know that help is out there.”

If it seems that Moseley is passionate about the work that Peace River does, she does so from a perspective of not only a volunteer, but also as a one-time client.

“About six years ago, I started noticing that the average person was struggling a little more and that even though society was a little more open to mental health, the stigma surrounding it had not gone away,” she says.

It was also during this time she was struggling with anxiety, to the point that she needed some help.

“I’ve always struggled with anxiety, and I’m a huge worrier,” she says. “I knew I needed a counselor.” 

She called her insurance provider and was told that it would be six months before she could see anyone. “I thought to myself, ‘OK, I raise money for this organization that provides the services that I need,’ ” she says. 

She made an appointment and was able to get an appointment the next day.

As a client — no one on staff knew her — Moseley saw firsthand how professional and caring the staff was, not only to her, but to everyone who walked in the door.

“It was obvious that they were there for the people,” she says. “That visit helped me see that this organization was something unique and worthy of advocating for.”

Through that visit, she says she found a fantastic counselor who helped her through that anxious period in her life. She also learned how important the cause of mental health, particularly through an organization like Peace River Center, is to a community. 

“I’m very passionate about mental health issues and very open about my own struggles,” she says. “Peace River is saving lives every day — every single day. My goal is to raise awareness about what they do and to get the focus on the mental health work it provides.”

That passion to raise awareness makes Moseley a champion. And, in this case, a health hero.