Valerie's House Teen Donates Comfort Bags for Grieving Children

In September, Valerie’s House assisted a graduate of its program in delivering dozens of “comfort bags” to Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida. The bags are stuffed with donated teddy bears, blankets, coloring books, crayons and letters from 18-year-old Austin Wolin.

When Austin was 12 years old, his father passed away. He was at the hospital when he heard the news. Austin remembers being offered a meal ticket and an informational packet in that moment. Through his efforts, children who lose a loved one will now have something to hold and somewhere to turn.

Austin has gathered 100 teddy bears, donated by Build-A-Bear Workshop, to give to grieving children. In August, he enlisted the help of his fellow boy scouts to stuff the bears into bags along with other donated items. Each bag contains a letter from Austin detailing his loss and his journey with Valerie’s House.

Austin and his mother, Tanya Wolin, were one of the first families to attend Valerie’s House in 2016. Austin has now graduated from the program and wants to give back to the organization. He’s including a brochure for Valerie’s House inside each bag.

“There’s no other way to get through that without support, I can tell you if I wasn’t in Valerie’s House, I would be on a totally different route than I am right now,” says Austin. He plans to continue working with Valerie’s House as a mentor to other grieving children.

Valerie's House Teen Participates in Community Conversation on Mental Health


WGCU — Fort Myers — According to the Centers for Disease Control the prevalence of depression, anxiety, and behavioral problems among teens is growing in the United States, with more than 1 in 10 being diagnosed with anxiety, about 1 in 13 with behavior disorders, and about 1 in 17 with depression. Teens these days have a lot on their plates, and the pressures of school and life can often be magnified, or perhaps distorted by things like social media. WGCU spoke with organizers about “Normal Is Overrated,” a local effort to remove the stigma of talking about mental and behavioral health issues among teens.

Normal is overrated 3.jpg

Programa de Español

Que es Valerie’s House


Valerie’s House (La Casa de Valerie) ofrece apoyo emocional a niños y familias que han perdido un ser querido. Los programas de Valerie’s House están designados para ofrecer a niños de edades 4 a 19 años y sus familias un lugar seguro donde ellos pueden expresar y procesar sus sentimientos relacionados con el dolor de haber perdido a su padre, madre, hermano/a, familiar, esposo/a o hijo/a.

Nuestros programas son gratis, gracias a generosas donaciones, subvenciones y apoyo voluntario. 

Nuestros programas comienzan con una comida compartida y tiempo de juego para los niños. Después de ese tiempo, los niños se dividen en grupos según su edad. En estos grupos de apoyo, utilizamos actividades divertidas que incluyen arte, música, tiempo para jugar y compartir, y otros métodos que ayudan a los participantes a expresarse, todo bajo la supervisión de terapeutas clínicos licenciados y personal entrenado.

Mientras los niños se reúnen y se unen, sus padres o cuidadores adultos también se reúnen, comparten su propio dolor y se apoyan mutuamente.

Los niños de Valerie's House pueden ingresar a nuestro programa un día o un año, o incluso años después de la pérdida. No hay un tiempo establecido para que el niño entre, y pueden seguir viniendo todo el tiempo que quieran.

Para mas información:

Estamos aceptando aplicaciones para todos los niños y sus padres o cuidadores que deseen participar en grupos de apoyo.
Si su familia necesita ayuda, comuníquese con Frances Bustamante: (818) 284-1541,


Tenemos grupos cada dos semanas en Fort Myers, Naples y Punta Gorda.

  • 1762 Fowler St., Fort Myers

  • 819 Myrtle Terrace, Naples

  • 507 W. Marion Ave. (First United Methodist Church), Punta Gorda

Gracias a Noticias WINK


Haga clic aquí para leer sobre nuestros servicios en español.

Valerie’s House es la única organización sin fines de lucro en el suroeste de Florida con su única misión de ayudar a los niños afligidos. Nuestra visión es que ningún niño estará solo sufriendo el dolor de la muerte de su padre, madre o ser querido.

Valerie's House Teen Creates "Coping Bags" for Grieving Children

Thanks to one special teen at Valerie’s House, families in Southwest Florida will get a lifeline after losing a loved one.

Austin Wolin created bags stuffed with items that will help comfort kids while they grieve. He said this is his way of giving back after Valerie’s House helped him through one of the most difficult parts of his life.

Read more and watch Austin’s story here.

Designers Transform Valerie's House Naples Home

Meet Our Designers


Littles Room

Designed and Donated by Beverly’s Angels
Mural by Barbara Del Castillo

Littles Room.jpg

Prepare to be transported to the depths of the ocean when you walk into the Littles Room, designed by Beverly’s Angels. Children will be captivated by the colorful masterpiece of sea creatures covering the walls, painted by artist Barbara Del Castillo. They can gather on plush cushions for group discussions, express their thoughts on the chalkboard wall and tinker with various toys.


Middles Room

Designed and Donated by Wilfredo Emanuel Designs
Mural by Barbara Del Castillo

middles room finished.jpg

You can almost smell the fresh air when you step inside the Middles Room. Designed by Wilfredo Emanuel Designs, children will feel like they’re spending a relaxing day at the park or campsite. The room is filled with whimsical foliage and garnished with outdoor lighting. It’s sure to set a child’s mind at ease.



Teen Room

Designed and Donated by L Design Studio

Teen Room.jpg

The complex mind of a teenager is projected into every corner of the Teen Room. You’ll find abstract artwork, lounge seating, a creative corner, and modern décor. L Design Studio’s carefully crafted space is sure to make a teen feel as though they’re hanging out at a friend’s house.



Caregiver Room

Designed and Donated by The Find Furniture Consignment

Caregiver Room.jpg

This serene space will provide comfort for caregivers who accompany children to Valerie’s House. Caregivers can sit back on couches and armchairs and let their feelings flow. The Find Furniture Consignment has created a calm atmosphere that will surround the adults as they navigate their grief.



Imagination Room

Designed and Donated by Freestyle Interiors

Imagination Room.jpg

Children can put their creativity to work inside the Imagination Room. Freestyle Interiors has transformed this open space into a magical play land. Equipped with a make-believe time machine, sand table and dress-up station, it’s the perfect place for children to relive precious memories, act out their feelings and play pretend.



Volcano Room

Designed and Donated by Nancy Thalmheimer
and Erikka Thalmheimer

Mural by Logan Pattyson

volcano room.jpg

Children can let their emotions erupt inside the Volcano Room. Nancy and Erikka Thalmheimer have provided the perfect arena for kids to blow off steam. The room comes equipped with padded floors and walls, punching bags and exercise balls. Whether children feel angry or simply want to let loose, they can channel their energy in a positive way in this secure space.

Chill Room

Designed and Donated by Seacoast Interiors


Dim the lights and crank up the soothing sounds of nature. Seacoast Interiors has captured a sense of calm in the Chill Room. Children can sit and reflect on comfortable cushions, unwind and rejuvenate on yoga mats, or reflect and let their thoughts flow in the cozy writing nook. It’s sure to be a retreat for the restless mind.



Art Room

Designed and Donated by Ecru & Ebony Design

art room.jpg

It’s a painter’s paradise. The art room is a versatile space, ready for the messiest of tasks. Its spacious setting allows for larger groups to gather and get their creative juices flowing. The well-stocked stations will allow children to create countless works of art.



Gathering Room

Designed and Donated by Lisa Davenport Designs & Lovetto Design

gathering room done.jpg

A colorful tree adorns the corner of the Gathering room, where children will be able to hang a personalized leaf for the special person they have lost. This spacious area will provide a beautiful backdrop for the many meals Valerie’s House families will share.



Hallway Mural

Designed and Donated by Logan Pattyson

Hallway Mural.jpg

Exterior Landscaping

Designed and Donated by Lois A. Bolin, GRI, Ph.D


Interior House Painting

Designed and Donated by Innovative Design Solutions



Window Treatments

Designed and Donated by Statewide Window Treatments



Valerie’s House Marks Expansion into Collier County with Grand Opening Celebrations and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Valerie’s House Marks Expansion into Collier County  with Grand Opening Celebrations and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Valerie’s House will celebrate its expansion into Collier County with the opening of a new home dedicated to helping grieving children heal after the loss of a loved one. The community is invited to see Valerie’s House’s new healing space at two celebrations to be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Sept. 10 and 11 at 819 Myrtle Terrace in Naples.

Read More

16-year-old Student Paints Murals for Valerie’s House Naples Opening

16-year-old Student Paints Murals for Valerie’s House Naples Opening

Barbara Del Castillo, 16, decided to bring some light and joy to children who are coping with the loss of a loved one by painting murals in the support rooms that will be used to comfort grieving children at Valerie’s House’s newest home in Naples. 

Read More

Valerie’s House to Host 3rd Annual Sunset Soirée to Support Grieving Children

Valerie’s House to Host 3rd Annual Sunset Soirée to Support Grieving Children

Valerie’s House will hold its annual signature event, Sunset Soirée, from 6 to 9:30 p.m. Thursday, October 17, 2019 at Miromar Lakes Beach & Golf Club to benefit its programs helping grieving children heal after the loss of a loved one.

Read More