Valerie Melvin with her family circa 1980

Valerie Melvin with her family circa 1980

Valerie Melvin as a nurse for cape coral hospital circa 1986

Valerie Melvin as a nurse for cape coral hospital circa 1986

Valerie’s House is a concept a long time in the making. Valerie Melvin was just 31-years-old when she lost her life in an automobile accident in Fort Myers. She left behind a loving husband and two small children, including Angela, then 10-years old. 

Angela shares her vision for Valerie's House in this video from 2015. Just one year later, Valerie's House opened its doors. 

After moving away to attend college and grow her career as a journalist, Angela returned to Fort Myers nearly 20 years later, in 2013. She quickly noticed there were very few resources for grieving families to connect and heal together. After pitching her vision for Valerie's House at an event supported by the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, Valerie's House was chosen as the winning idea. The selection led to a campaign for the initial funding for Valerie's House to launch.  With the help of many volunteers and funders, Southwest Florida has continued to support this growing organization ever since.

When Caryn Smith, an entrepreneur and local business owner heard about Valerie's House, she immediately jumped in to help. She worked with Angela to develop Valerie's House, raising awareness and working the "business side" of the non-profit.

Valerie's House is modeled after the nationally-recognized and acclaimed Dougy Center for Grieving Children. Among other services, it provides open-ended peer support groups and activities for children to heal after a significant loss in their life. Valerie's House is not a formal counseling center, it is a community and a platform for individuals to come together, and share and mentor one another through grief. There is nothing of this kind in Southwest Florida for children on an ongoing basis.

*For a detailed copy of the Valerie's House 5-year business plan, please email Angela at angela@valerieshouseswfl.org