City of Asheville fosters development of an APP to help first responders and our community
Identifying a need
SAFE PLUS MORE is an APP to respond to the mental health needs of our first responders, men and women who face incredible odds, intense job pressure and psychological stressors on a daily basis as part of their career.
Those factors, and the burdens they place on our first responders, did not go unrecognized by two local men, entrepreneur Matthew Bacoate, and retired AFD Battalion Chief, Ron King. Bacoate wanted to develop an APP that allowed anyone confidential access to mental health care, right in the palm of their hand. For King, he saw an opportunity to support the men and women serving on our community’s front lines (click here for a link to video).
Meeting community values
The City of Asheville met with the men in 2019. Upon learning about the service, City Manager Debra Campbell recognized the opportunity to not only support our first responders, but achieve additional benefits Asheville has identified as important to the community – supporting small, local and minority business.
Matthew Bacoate, owner of Asheville Community Enterprises, LLC, founded the company in Asheville in 2017. His experiences in the social services field, led Bacoate to recognize staff serving our most vulnerable populations were often overworked, and under-supported with resources. Realizing not only staff, but organizations themselves need tools to support their employees, the Safe Plus More digital application was born.
Development: a real community effort
With support from one of Western North Carolina’s largest entrepreneurial development organizations, Mountain Bizworks, (a U.S. Treasury certified non-profit Community Development Financial Institution or CDFI), Asheville Community Enterprise was able to work directly with Anthroware, a local app design company to get the Safe Plus More application completed.
The City of Asheville Information and Technology team, led by Eric Jackson, found the project fulfilling on several levels. The City had an opportunity to start a conversation, foster a burgeoning tech company, and meet the social goal of supporting our first responders. The team enjoyed shaping new technology to be used to support mental health care for workers in challenging positions. The City technology team identified enormous potential in the APP and Bacoate brought a fresh perspective to the use of technology, and an openness to the input and adjustment to see his vision come to digital light.
Coming together through vision, support and application, Safe Plus More is a story of Asheville’s dedication to community supporting community on all levels.