First Step of Sarasota Inc
4579 Northgate Court
Sarasota FL 34234
First Step of Sarasota, Inc. prevents and treats alcohol and drug addictions and associated disorders. We foster fully functioning, productive individuals by offering a full array of services in partnership with our community.
CEO/Executive Director Mr. David J. Beesley
Board Chair Mr. Peter Abbott
Board Chair Company Affiliation Edward Jones
History and Background
Organization DBA
We do not have a DBA
Tax Exempt Status Public Supported Charity
Awarded a competitive grant from Community Foundation in the last 5 years?
Incorporation Year 1968
Financial Summary
Projected Revenue $7,987,551.00
Projected Expenses $8,176,152.00
Additional Documents
State Info
State Charitable Solicitations Permit Yes Dec 2015
State Registration Yes Dec 2012

First Step is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitative Facilities (CARF). CARF performs a review (survey) of First Step every three years before renewing the accreditation. During the most recent survey (October 2011), First Step received no recommendations, meaning that all areas analyzed met CARF performance standards. Only 3% of all CARF surveys result in a report containing no recommendations. Additionally, First Step received three exemplary conformances (outstanding marks).

First Step was named at the 2011 EDC John J. Cox Community Partner of the Year. The John J. Cox Community Partner of the Year Award recognizes a non-profit that contributes to economic development or improving the area’s quality of life. 

Biz941 named First Step President and CEO David J. Beesley as one of the area’s Best Bosses in spring of 2011. Each year, the local publication asks for individuals to nominate bosses for the award. Judges were comprised of three human resource officers and a management consultant. 

With funding from Sarasota County, First Step completed a $750,000 renovation project at the agency’s Residential Treatment Center located at 4613 North Washington Boulevard. The scope of the project ranged from replacing and upgrading systems such as HVAC, plumbing, windows, roofing to campus beautification of grounds through painting and landscaping.

Recently completed in mid-2012 is a new 8,700 square foot building housing a kitchen, dining facilities, a multi-purpose room and administrative offices. The building sits adjacent to the North Washington Boulevard Residential Treatment Center. The kitchen and dining areas allow First Step to better serve its current clients, while also allowing for future expansion. Administrative offices allow the agency to save money previously spent on leased space downtown Sarasota. 


First Step of Sarasota has been treating individuals with substance abuse issues since 1968. Starting out as a store front help line for alcoholics, First Step has grown over the years to meet the changing needs of the community.

First Step expanded in 1976, opening both a Detoxification facility in Sarasota and an outpatient office in Arcadia. As cocaine became the “popular” and “trendy” drug of the 80’s, First Step adapted and opened a residential facility onNorth Washington Blvd.

In the 1990’s, as a response to the high infant mortality rate, the Mothers & Infants program was created in an effort to rehabilitate pregnant women and help them deliver healthy, drug-free babies and break the cycle of addiction. This program has seen the success of more than 320 healthy births (100%) and saved tax payers in the community million of dollars when compared to treat both neo-natal and lifelong medical expenses associated with pre-natal exposure to drugs and alcohol. This is the only program of its kind in the State.

A youth outpatient treatment program began in 2002 and in 2006, First Step expanded its detox unit from 15 beds to 30 and was awarded a County contract for the creation of an Addictions Receiving Facility, one of just three in the State of Florida that accept involuntary admissions under the State of Florida’s Marchman Act.

Currently, as we face an epidemic number of overdose deaths from prescription drugs, First Step is involved with several other community partners to provide prevention and education programs to the public, as well as treatment options.

First Step has grown to serve nearly 20,000 individuals annually through treatment and prevention programs. The agency offers affordable residential and outpatient treatment options.

First Step needs items in both large and small scale.  To be complaint with upcoming federal regulations, First Step's greatest funding need would support the implementation of Electronic Medical Record software. 
Additionally, one of the First Step buildings is showing its age and in the next 1-3 years will need maintenance work beyond the scope of regular upkeep.    
Many clients who come to First Step are either homeless or coming from jail.  These individuals do not have personal hygiene items.  First Step collects alcohol-free products such as deodorant, liquid soap, toothpaste, tooth brushes and hair brushes for these clients. 
Additionally, due to the volume of clients that uses our detox unit, we go through a number of bath towels and wash cloths.  The First Step detox unit can always accept new or lightly used towels.
Like many non-profits, First Step has been pinched by budget cuts.  Monetary donations are always welcome.
Statement from the CEO/Executive Director
First Step of Sarasota was recently recognized as the recipient of an Economic Development award for providing a clean and compelling demonstration of the economic impact of substance abuse treatment, intervention and prevention results throughout the region.
During our recent 3-year CAF accreditation process, the organization received three exemplary commendations (national average is one), as well as receiving no recommendations.  This is an extraordinary accomplishment as only 3% of CARF surveys result in NO recommendations.
Statement from the Board Chair/Board President

First Step of Sarasota (FSOS) is the area leader serving people suffering with addictions, needing first rate care and support at an affordable cost. Our challenge is to maintain high quality services in the face of funding reductions, increasing costs and uncertainty in state and external processes. FSOS faced its challenges through innovation, collaboration, budget cuts and expanded funding sources and is engaged in talks with regional providers in an effort to mutually strengthen organizational practices, minimize overlap and ensure sustainability.

During my law enforcement career, we recognized that arresting addicted individuals engaging in public displays of egregious behavior and lodging them in the county jail did little to impact addiction or safeguard the public. Discussions with FSOS CEO Dave Beesley led to the vision and subsequent opening of an Addiction Receiving Facility (ARF) at FSOS; a realistic alternative to jail, less intrusive to those caught in the grip of addiction and less expensive to taxpayers. Talks of expanding jail capacity abated as the ARF took hold. Soon after, I joined the FSOS Board.

Addiction services are a tough “sell” to folks inclined to support organizations offering a “warm and fuzzy” result. My response is, “How many of you have family, friends or have personally been involved in the destructive cycle of addiction?” Everyone recognizes the beast’s horrific scope, even more so in the wake of prescription drug abuse. Addiction doesn’t hurt just the addict; but impacts family, employers, friends. Who has not lost a friend or loved-one to addiction?

Some ask why we should support those who are responsible for making their own bed. The answer is the Mothers & Infants program, which takes addicted, pregnant women, gets them straight and focused, provides job and parenting skills and a decent shot at raising their own child. Testimony shared by these women at FSOS events is incredible and heartbreaking; but their hope for a future is priceless. What about the bottom line? Neo-natal intensive care costs for treating drug-addicted newborns can range from $250K upwards, depending on the extent of exposure and damage. Given the program’s 300+ drug-free births and an estimated cost of $500K per baby, the program saved Sarasota taxpayers roughly $150M. These figures do not include the cost of treating other disabilities through the child’s life or the burden on the state if the child is taken from its mother at the hospital. Many find First Step an irreplaceable, life-saving community asset. I do. That’s why I serve.

Areas Served
Areas Served
FL- DeSoto
FL- Manatee
FL- Sarasota
Service Categories
Primary Org Type Mental Health & Crisis Intervention
Secondary Org Type Human Services
Tertiary Org Type Health Care

Since 1995, Mothers & Infants has provided pregnant women with a safe, supportive environment to overcome their substance abuse disorders. The program goals are the birth of a healthy, drug-free baby and long-term abstinence from drugs and/or alcohol for the mothers. In February 2013, we celebrated the milestone birth of our 300th healthy, drug-free baby. As of January 2014, we have exceeded 320 healthy, drug-free births.

Many of the women treated are dependent on prescription pain medications. While all of their backgrounds are different, more and more report that they began using prescription drugs for legitimate pain purposes, such as a car accident or sports injury, and have developed a dependency on these medications. Sometimes, that leads to the use of illegal drugs, which can be less expensive and easier to obtain. Our clients could be your neighbor, the daughter of your friend, a relative…this is an issue that truly affects all of us.

Budget $577,109
Category Human Services, General/Other Human Services, General/Other
Program linked to organizational strategy? Yes
Population Served Females Adults Alcohol, Drug, Substance Abusers
Short Term Success

Program Outcomes

As a whole, the Mothers & Infants program has a set of goals, or outcome measures, to meet each year. The outcomes for dates ranging between October 1, 2012 and September 30, 2013 follow.





40 clients will be served



34 unduplicated clients served



100% of babies to be born alcohol/drug free



90% clients completing program will report reduced frequency of use or no use if drug free at admission



75% of clients will successfully complete the program with no substance abuse within 30 days of discharge



90% of participants indicate that they are satisfied with services provided by the program.


Long Term Success
The ultimate goal for this program is for the women to live clean and sober lives, in recovery and to break the cycle of addiction as they raise their children.
Program Success Monitored By
On February 22, 2013, First Step celebrated the birth of the 300th healthy, drug-free baby into the Mothers & Infant program.  More than 20 babies have been born since that time.  Each healthy, drug-free baby is an example of the success of this program.
Examples of Program Success

Client testimony:

After giving birth, I became dependent on the painkillers prescribed for me.  My life unravels and by the time my daughter was one, I was no longer able to take care of her. My life spiraled downward. I tried to get off drugs, but never with lasting success.  Eventually, I was arrested and learned in jail that I was pregnant.  I heard about a place called First Step and a special residential unit for women who are pregnant with substance abuse problems. After an evaluation, First Step helped me work with the courts so I could go to this program. I am so grateful for Mothers & Infants. The staff made sure my baby received pre-natal care, provided parenting classes and counseling for my substance abuse issues. I learned about addiction, to know myself and how to make better decisions; the types that make my parents proud and me a better mother to my children. I learned I am a good person, even though I have the disease of addiction.  Now, I have a wonderful life! 


Peer pressure, stress to succeed in school or sports and the desire to be popular. Everyday life can be overwhelming for teenagers. While many teens never experiment with drugs or alcohol, others do. Regardless if the experimentation is done to simply to fit in, or if drugs are used as a coping mechanism, First Step has a special outpatient program for adolescents.

At First Step, adolescents are treated differently than adults because of developmental issues, differences in values and beliefs, as well as environmental considerations such as peer influence. First Step is dedicated to providing the highest quality professional care to adolescents struggling with alcohol and drug addiction.

This program includes group and individual counseling and requires family participation.

Budget $41,123
Category Human Services, General/Other Children & Youth Services
Program linked to organizational strategy? Yes
Population Served Adolescents Only (13-19 years)
Short Term Success

First Step expects the following outcomes for its adolescents served by this program:

  • 70% of adolescents in intensive substance abuse treatment and psycho-educational services will demonstrate at least one month of sobriety prior to discharge
  • 70% of adolescents referred to treatment because of substance abuse related school issues will maintain or improve overall attendance compared to their entry level
  • 65% of adolescents with legal sanctions will maintain or improve their juvenile legal status
Long Term Success

In simple terms, First Step’s goal for this program is the long term abstinence from drugs/alcohol. The benefits from accomplishing that goal are listed below.

· Youth clients who maintain long-term abstinence from drugs and alcohol do not develop chronic substance abuser disorders requiring repeated treatment

· Youth clients who are successful in substance abuse treatment program have a better chance of completing college or vocational school or entering the military

· Youth clients who maintain long-term abstinence from drugs or alcohol are less likely to develop chronic medical issues often caused by long-time substance abuse

· Youth clients who maintain long-term abstinence from drugs and alcohol begin developing and/or improving quality family and intimate relationships.

Program Success Monitored By
First Step keeps detailed notes in the charts of each client and daily activity logs, that include progress and setbacks.  Clients are subject to random drug testing.  Displays of gradual and expected behavioral changes, negative drug tests and achievement of goals show that the program is working for the individual client.  Not all clients will be successful, but achievement of program outcome goals shows that most clients are benefiting from the program.
Examples of Program Success
A quote from one of our counselors:  "Being involved in youths' lives has been challenging yet, the reward of watching changes and maturation occur are indescribable.  I have received phone calls, cards and emails from previous clients who have graduated high school, gone on to college, followed their dreams and/or maintained employment.  I have been fortunate to witness families in total discord become united at the completion of the Comprehensive Teen Outpatient Program.

First Step has a 30-bed medically-supervised detoxification unit. With emphasis on good nutrition and vitamins, links to self-help support groups and planning for continuing care, First Step guides clients through the physical and emotional crisis of withdrawal. During the average stay of three to 10 days, clients participate in structured, daily activities including educational groups, AA/NA groups and discharge planning.

Both voluntary and involuntary admissions are accepted. Involuntary admissions are initiated through the Florida Marchman Act.


Budget $2,270,000
Category Human Services, General/Other Personal Social Services
Program linked to organizational strategy? Yes
Population Served Alcohol, Drug, Substance Abusers Adults At-Risk Populations
Short Term Success
When people enter First Step's Detox unit, either voluntary or involuntary (State of Florida Marchman Act), the goal is to provide a safe, medically supervised detox and as their condition improves, educate them on available treatment alternatives.
Long Term Success
First Step's Detox unit offers short-term solutions for a long-term problem.  If you compared First Step and its programs to a hospital, the Detox unit would be comparable to the ER and our other programs would function more similar to other hospital departments.  Some of our clients are treated and released from Detox, others may do follow-up with their own doctors, others may enter into a residential or outpatient treatment program.  Another category will chose to do nothing, and become a repeat customer.
Regardless of which pattern each client may follow, First Step strives to provide the best possible care for each individual admitted to detox. 
Program Success Monitored By

The Detox unit is split into two parts. One is for voluntary clients and the second for involuntary clients. Each accommodates 15 clients at one time, for a total of 30. Clients receive the same treatment regardless of admission status. Monitoring reports only include the involuntary admissions, as that portion is funded and monitored by Sarasota County. Outcomes from the last fiscal year are below.



95% of involuntary participants admitted to the ARF will successfully complete medically-supervised detoxification.


70% of involuntary participants discharged from the ARF will not be readmitted on an involuntary basis to the ARF within 12 months of discharge


100% of involuntary participants discharged from the AR identified as needing continuing care will be referred to appropriate services in the community


90% of participants indicate that they are satisfied or very satisfied with the services provided by the program


Examples of Program Success

Ten years ago, I was pregnant, scared and using drugs. My mother, an alcoholic herself, recognized the path my life was taking. One day, she told me to pack my bags and dropped me off at First Step’s Detox Unit. As the door closed behind me, she sped away so I could not argue with her to take me home. That moment changed my life forever. The staff at Detox took good care of me, making sure my vital signs were stable, that I was detoxing safely and that there was no harm to my baby. They referred me to another First Step program called Mothers & Infants. This is a program for women like me, pregnant, scared and addicted to drugs. I completed that program and went home a changed woman, and the mother of a healthy baby girl. Life hasn’t always been easy since I left First Step, but I they taught me how to take charge of my life and that is what I have done. I’ve married, expanded my family and soon will be a college graduate embarking on a new career.


The Voluntary Interim Placement-Enhanced Recovery (VIP-ER) program is a collaboration between several Sarasota County agencies. The primary goal of the program is to assist individuals who are homeless so that they may be productive members of society. While housing is handled by The Salvation Army, First Step provides 10 weeks of substance abuse treatment. Additional partner agencies focus on workforce readiness, mental health and family reunification.

To be eligible for the VIP-ER program, one must be at least 18 years of age, a Sarasota County resident and homeless with a substance abuse disorder.
Budget $129,544
Category Mental Health, Substance Abuse Programs, General/other Inpatient Substance Abuse Treatment
Program linked to organizational strategy? Yes
Population Served Adults Homeless Poor,Economically Disadvantaged,Indigent
Short Term Success

The short-term goal of this program is for the clients to complete the entire program and graduate. First Step is not the lead agency on this project. Overall program outcomes are tracked by the lead agency and reported to the County.

Long Term Success
As clients complete the VIP-ER program, they are surveyed on different aspects of the treatment they received.  During the most recent fiscal year (2012-2013), 90% of participants indicated they are more prepared for recovery after completing the comprehensive substance abuse treatment curriculum.
Program Success Monitored By

Sarasota County monitors the success of this program by reviewing the outcomes prepared by the lead agency. These are a combination of client satisfaction survey outcomes, program completion outcomes, drug test results, as well as factors outside of First Step's control such as the percentage of clients securing housing and employment.

Examples of Program Success
Anonymous client testimony:
After using heroine for 10 years, I am clean and sober.  I also work full time in sales, own my car and my home.  If it weren't for the VIP-ER program, I would not be in this situation.  I learned in the program how to remove my obsessions, my addictions and lead a normal life.  The best part, is after all this time, I've been able to reconcile with my family.
CEO/Executive Director
Executive Director Mr. David J. Beesley
CEO Term Start Sept 2000

David Beesley was named President/CEO of First Step of Sarasota, Inc. in March 2001. With more than 25 years experience in health care management and a Masters in Public Health from the University of Minnesota, David has dedicated his career to working for not-for-profit healthcare organizations. He has previously held senior management positions at a federally qualified health center and a 400-bed private hospital.

Full Time Staff 108
Part Time Staff 63
Volunteers 80
Contractors 3
Staff Retention Rate % 75
Professional Development Yes
Management Reports to Board No
Organization Plans
Fundraising Plan No
Communication Plan No
Strategic Plan No
Strategic Plan Years 2
Strategic Plan Adopted June 2011
Management Succession Plan No
Policies and Procedures No
Continuity of Operations Plan Yes
Former CEOs
Mr. Larry Birch 1991 - 2000
Senior Staff
Phillip Brooks Vice President, Outpatient
Marlene Minzey Vice President, Special Services
Dr. David Panting Medical Director
Robert Piper Vice President, Residential
Formal Evaluations
CEO Formal Evaluation Yes
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Yes
NonManagement Formal Evaluation Yes
  • Manatee Glens
  • Bayside
  • Lighthouse Addictions Services
  • Jewish Family and Children Services
  • Prospect House – Mental Health Services
  • Community Aids Network
  • Coastal Behavioral Services
  • Genesis
  • OARS – Outpatient Addiction Recovery Services
  • Charlotte Behaviorial Healthcare
  • Operation PAR
  • Tidewell Hospice – Grief Counseling (Free)
  • Family Emergency Treatment Services-(FETC)
  • Sarasota County Health Department
  • Charlotte County Health Department
  • Manatee County Health Department
  • SeniorFriendshipCenter–Sarasota– (Must be 50 yrs old +)
  • Genesis
  • One Stop
  • Suncoast Workforce – Job Search Assistance
  • Ex-Offender Program –Sarasota– Support for job search with legal hx
  • St. Martha’s Caritas
  • All Faith’s Food Bank
  • Department of Children and Families – Food Stamps
  • Father Jim Nylon/Pete Ross – Transportation to ARCs in Tampa/St. Pete
  • Salvation Army
  • SarasotaMemorialHospital
  • FloridaCenter for Child and Family Development
  • Safe Children’s Coalition
  • Healthy Start of SarasotaCounty
  • YMCA Triad
  • 12thJudicial Circuit
  • Sarasota County Sheriff’s Dept.
  • State College of Florida Traffic Safety Institute
  • Bay Area Youth Services
External Assessments and Accreditations
Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) - Behavioral Health - 3 Year Accreditation
John J Cox Community Partner of the Year AwardEDC2011
Best BossBiz 9412011
Risk Management Provisions
Accident and Injury Coverage
Automobile Insurance
Automobile Insurance and Umbrella or Excess Insurance
Blanket Personal Property
Builders Risk
Business Income
Commercial General Insurance
Commercial General Liability
Commercial General Liability and D and O and Umbrella or Excess and Automobile and Professional
Directors and Officers Policy
Fiduciary Liability
General Property Coverage
Improper Sexual Conduct/Sexual Abuse
Life Insurance
Medical Health Insurance
Medical Malpractice
Professional Liability
Renter's Insurance
Special Event Liability
Umbrella or Excess Insurance
Workers Compensation and Employers' Liability
Government Licenses
Is your organization licensed by the Government? Yes
Nondiscrimination Policy No
Whistle Blower Policy Yes
Document Destruction Policy Yes
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy No
Board Chair
Board Chair Mr. Peter Abbott
Company Affiliation Edward Jones
Board Term Jan 2014 to July 2016
Board Members
Board Members
Mr. Peter Abbott Need name of new company
Shawndra Baird Philanthropist
Mr. Richard Carlson Retired
Jack Cox Halfacre Construction Company
Ms. Dana Keane Keane & Keane
Ms. Laura Keisacker The Observer
Ms. Elizabeth LaBoone Merrill Lynch
Mr. John Lambie Dwell Green
Capt. Wade McVay Sarasota Police Department
Dr. Lawrence Miller City of Arcadia
Dr. Kevin O'Neil Brookdale Senior Living
Captain Patrick Robinson Sarasota Police Department
Ms. Brena Slater The Sarasota Y
Mr. William Spitler Sarasota County Sheriff's Office
Ms. Pepper Wakeland Davidson Drugs
Dr. John Walker Jr.Bethel Christian Methodist Episcopal Church
Student serving on the board through Community Youth Development? No
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 3
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 13
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 10
Female 6
Unspecified 0
Board Term Lengths 1
Board Term Limits 3
Board Orientation Yes
Board Meeting Attendance % 73
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 4
Board Self-Evaluation No
Written Board Selection Criteria No
Written Conflict of Interest Policy Yes
Percentage of Board Making Monetary Contributions 100
Percentage of Board Making In-Kind Contributions 0
Constituency Includes Client Representation No
Standing Committees
Governance Comments by Organization
For clarification, Board members sign on for an initial one-year term, then renew for a two-year term.
Financial Info
Fiscal Year 2014
Projected Revenue $7,987,551.00
Projected Expenses $8,176,152.00
Endowment Value $0.00
Spending Policy N/A
Historical Financials
Revenue SourcesHelpThe financial analysis involves a comparison of the IRS Form 990 and the audit report (when available) and revenue sources may not sum to total based on reconciliation differences. Revenue from foundations and corporations may include individual contributions when not itemized separately.
Fiscal Year201320122011
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
Government Contributions$5,638,572$5,533,586$5,696,212
Individual Contributions$136,378$207,563$76,773
Investment Income, Net of Losses$2,462$3,941$8,631
Membership Dues$0$0$0
Special Events$47,398$40,459$47,370
Revenue In-Kind$57,295$62,461$25,732
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201320122011
Program Expense$7,163,011$7,133,048$6,859,667
Administration Expense$877,333$917,314$882,705
Fundraising Expense$63,552$68,648$66,381
Payments to Affiliates$0$0$0
Total Revenue/Total Expenses0.911.001.04
Program Expense/Total Expenses88%88%88%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue1%1%1%
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201320122011
Total Assets$6,823,664$7,703,292$7,196,444
Current Assets$2,023,759$2,445,573$2,589,322
Long-Term Liabilities$609,855$509,699$45,132
Current Liabilities$537,359$811,946$735,169
Total Net Assets$5,676,450$6,381,647$6,416,143
Top Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201320122011
Top Funding Source & Dollar AmountGovernment Grants - Unspecified $5,368,572Government grants $5,533,586Government $5,696,212
Second Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountClient Fees $1,716,889Client Fees $2,210,799Earned Revenue $2,291,631
Third Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountContributions, gifts, grants $136,378Contributions, gifts, grants $207,563Individuals, Foundations & Corporations $76,773
CEO Compensation
Co-CEO Compensation
Short Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201320122011
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities3.773.013.52
Long Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201320122011
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets9%7%1%
Capital Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? No
Financials Comments
Financial Comments by Foundation
Financials provided based on IRS Form 990 and audit documents. 2011 audit reports revenue of $7,944,410. 2009 audit reports revenue of $9,019,251 and expenses of $9,313,130. Individual contributions include foundation and corporate support, as reflected on Form 990.
Nonprofit First Step of Sarasota Inc
Address 4579 Northgate Court
Sarasota, FL 34234
Primary Phone 941 366-5333
CEO/Executive Director Mr. David J. Beesley
Board Chair Mr. Peter Abbott
Board Chair Company Affiliation Edward Jones
Year of Incorporation 1968