Founder & CEO
Born and raised in Fort Myers, Florida, Angela Melvin is the Founder of Valerie’s House, based on a successful national model that focuses on providing children and families who have lost a loved one a loving place where they can grieve together and learn the tools to go on and live successful lives.
As a 10-year-old child in Fort Myers, Angela lost her mother, Valerie, to a car accident. With the help of a strong family structure and father figure, she went on to build a successful career and life despite her tragedy. But Angela knows that she is an exception to the rule. Statistically, most children of loss flounder in life and often become a burden on the “system.” Yet, even today Angela says, “With a place like Valerie’s House, I would have connected with children like me and it could have made all the difference in my healing.” Read more about Angela.
Danielle Visone, MSW
Danielle obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and a Masters in Social Work from Florida Gulf Coast University. She has a passion for working with children, and in particular with those who are grieving, having experienced the loss of her own father. Danielle spent much of her childhood participating in a program similar to Valerie's House in her home town of West Palm Beach. She was instrumental in the launching of Valerie's House, as a group leader and an advocate, from its inception. In May 2016, she was hired as the first Program Director.
Previously, Danielle volunteered with grief camps and completed courses on grief, death & dying focusing on how children from different age groups are affected. She is currently a licensed Clinical Social Work Intern working towards her LCSW, and is pursuing certification in Thanatology. Danielle has experience in leadership, non-profit development and networking primarily while a student and University Ambassador Director at Florida Gulf Coast University. These experiences have prepared her well for undertaking the program director position at Valerie's House.
Contact Danielle at email@example.com .
Allyson is an undergraduate student at Florida Gulf Coast University studying Psychology. Having lost her father at the age of 16, Allyson understands what it feels like to grow up without a parent and can relate to many of the children in our program. Her passion for children is a vibrant part of her personality and is shown in everything she does. Allyson will pursue a Masters of Social Work at FGCU upon the completion of her Bachelors degree.
Contact Ally at firstname.lastname@example.org
Carol S. Gates
Family Support Specialist
Carol has a Master’s of Divinity Degree and serves as an ordained minister in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America and as a certified Law Enforcement Chaplain. Carol’s ministry in congregational settings and as Executive Director of Rockford Lutheran Schools has provided her with over 15 years of experience in working with those experiencing grief from the very young to the very old.
Additionally she served on the Board of Directors for Samaritan Counseling Services in Barrington, Illinois and developed programming for suicide prevention and loss within the congregations she served. Carol is thrilled to be serving grieving families in Southwest Florida as a lead facilitator at Valerie's House.
Contact Carol at email@example.com
Kayla Schusterman, LCSW
Kayla is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, who received her Bachelor and Master degrees in Social Work from Florida Gulf Coast University. She is also a certified Prepare Enrich facilitator. Kayla’s experience includes: group work with survivors of suicide; residential and outpatient substance abuse treatment; counseling adults, couples and children in a private practice setting; and, she is currently a school social worker for the Lee County School District. She is also a member of the National Association of Social Workers.
Heather Payne, LMHC, RPT, NCC
Heather is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, a Registered Play Therapist, and a Nationally Certified Counselor who began working with families experiencing grief and loss during her previous career as a Neonatal Intensive Care Registered Nurse. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from Nova Southeastern University and a Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling from Argosy University Sarasota. She has received bereavement facilitator training from the American Academy of Bereavement (AAB) and Resolve through Sharing (RTS). She is a member of the Association of Death Education and Counseling (ADEC), the American Counseling Association (ACA) and the Association for Play Therapy (APT).
Heather works with children as young as two-years old, adults, couples, and families, on a variety of issues including grief, loss, and trauma. She uses a number of therapeutic techniques tailored to fit the individual client. Heather and her dog, Griffin, are completing the certification process for Animal Assisted Play Therapy, and Griffin joins her in many of her sessions. Heather also coordinates the Pediatric/Pregnancy Bereavement program for Lee Memorial Health System, where she provides grief support to parents who have lost a child.
Megan Goddard, LCSW, RPT
Megan is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the state of Florida and Registered Play Therapist. She attained a Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Cincinnati and a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Human Services and Counseling from Lindsey Wilson College.
Megan is co-owner of Sunshine State Counseling Center, LLC a private psychotherapy practice in Bonita Springs, Florida that specializes in the treatment of children, adolescents, couples, adults and families. Megan has experience and training to provide individual psychotherapy, working with emotionally disturbed children, group counseling and family work. She has worked with challenges surrounding grief, adjustment issues throughout the life cycle, depression, anxiety, anger management, social skills, family violence, divorce and the many facets of trauma.
Monika Urbanska, MA
Monika is a recent graduate of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods-College mastering in Art Therapy and Mental Health Counseling. She graduated Magna Cum Laude in 2009 from Boston University with a BFA in painting and minor in printmaking. Originally born in Torun, Poland, Monika is bi-lingual in Polish and English. She is the co-owner, co-founder and artist of a local performance fishing apparel company called The Reel Chase and a painting instructor at The Painted Conch in Cape Coral. For the past 4 years she has worked at De LaSalle Academy of Fort Myers as a teacher and counseling intern with special needs children K-12. She specializes in working with children and adolescents with Autism, ADHD/ADD, anxiety, depression, and grief as well as substance use in adults. She employs a client centered approach utilizing Constructivist, Cognitive-Behavioral, and Dialectical-Behavioral theoretical platforms.
Meghan Collins, MSW
Born and raised in Fort Myers, Meghan has a heart to serve the community of Southwest Florida. Meghan first discovered her passion to support children and adolescents after creating and leading a Pilot Program, PACE Sisters, for the PACE Center for Girls. Since then, Meghan has received her Bachelors and Masters Degree in Clinical Social Work at Florida State University, and is currently a licensed Clinical Social Work Intern working to obtain her certification as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.
Her prior internship experience includes working for The Yale Child Study Center in New Haven, Connecticut and working in the Pediatric Unit, Intensive Care Unit and Emergency Department at Gulf Coast Medical Center and Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida. She also has experience in assisting families facing the effects of Addiction and Co-Occurring disorders, by facilitating both individual and group sessions. Meghan offers a client-centered and strengths-perspective approach, utilizing both Motivational Interviewing and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Meghan is delighted with the opportunity to serve grieving children as a Lead Facilitator, and member of the Valerie’s House family.