FORT MYERS, Fla. (April 8, 2016) Valerie’s House for Grieving Families, a not-for-profit organization devoted to helping children and families work through grief following the death of a loved one, held its first fundraising event March 31, raising more than $50,000 to support growth and expansion. More than 60 people attended the event, including elected officials, business and community leaders, program participants, and the media.
The evening began with a guided tour conducted by several of Valerie’s House teen ambassadors who attend the program. Founder and board president Angela Melvin and board member Stephen Bienko of 42 Holdings/College Hunks Hauling Junk shared the story of how Valerie’s House came to life and the impact it is already having on local families. Brandon Phillips, President and CEO of Global HR® Research, also a child of loss, spoke on the vital need for Valerie’s House in the community and encouraged attendees to lend financial support through a matching pledge.
During the presentation, two Valerie’s House families and their children shared their stories of grief and their journeys from hopelessness to hope through the work of Valerie’s House. Attendees also experienced the power of a grief activity, as Valerie’s House social worker Danielle Visone led attendees through a grief exercise, similar to what children in the program experience.
“We are overwhelmed by the community support,” Melvin said. “We had people come through our door who had no idea what we were providing to children, the need or the impact. Now, they want to get involved and help us grow, which will allow us to expand these much needed services to other children.”
Valerie’s House opened in January and is currently serving 52 children and caregivers from Lee, Collier, Charlotte, and Hendry counties. The organization provides a safe, comfortable place for children to share, grieve and heal together following the death of a close family member. Valerie’s House is located at 1618 Avalon Place in the historic Dean Park community of downtown Fort Myers, with plans to expand to Naples and Cape Coral.
Valerie’s House is named after Angela Melvin’s mother, Valerie Melvin, a 31-year old nurse and mother of two daughters who was killed in a car accident in 1987. Valerie’s House is fully supported through community donations that can be made online at www.valerieshouseswfl.org or by mail to Valerie’s House, Inc., P.O. Box 1955, Fort Myers, FL 33902. For more information or to register for programs, visit www.valerieshouseswfl.org/contact-us/, call 239-478-6734, or write firstname.lastname@example.org.