Naples Children & Education Foundation Grant Supports Valerie’s House Expansion of Children’s Grief Support in Collier County
NAPLES, Fla. (June 13, 2019) – Valerie’s House, the first and only Southwest Florida nonprofit grieving center focused solely on children’s grief, is pleased to announce that the Naples Children & Education Foundation (NCEF), the founding organization of the Naples Winter Wine Festival, has provided a $100,000 grant to support the expansion of their Collier County-based support groups for grieving children and their families after the death of a loved one.
“We greatly value our partnership with the Naples Children & Education Foundation,“ says Valerie’s House Founder and CEO Angela Melvin. “The NCEF has supported us from the start of our programs in Collier County. Their continued investment in our mission now makes it possible to have our own Valerie’s House in Naples.”
This is the third year NCEF has invested in Valerie’s House’s proven, evidence-based support groups, individual therapy sessions and case management services provided to grieving children ages 4-19 years old.
Valerie’s House first opened in Fort Myers in 2016 and expanded to Naples in early 2017 in borrowed space with limited capacity. With plans to open a new, permanent home of its own in Naples in September, the additional NCEF operating funds will help support the added capacity the new Naples home will provide, helping approximately 100 more local grieving children and families.
Valerie’s House’s unique program model gives children a safe, home-like environment to identify, express, and process grief using art, music and other holistic services overseen by a licensed clinical social worker. After bonding over a potluck dinner, children are broken out into age appropriate groups while caregivers meet simultaneously in their own support group.
One Family’s Grief Story
Naples widow Debbie Rettow and her two daughters, who lost their father John in 2017 after a long 6-year battle to cancer, have been able to find a way to navigate their loss and express themselves with others suffering the same pain through the unique supportive programs at Valerie’s House.
“When you lose a loved one you feel isolated and lost. Valerie’s House puts other grieving children in the same age group which helps them open up more than they would with an individual therapist or with a parent,” Debbie says. “My girls walk out of those meetings relaxed, feeling more confident and positive about their situation.”
New Programs on the Horizon
In addition to supporting more children, Valerie’s House will use the NCEF funds to expand its help for grieving children in the school system, including a mentoring program that will soon be announced.
“We know that by connecting with others who are grieving in a supportive environment children and families can work through the loss of a loved one together and go on to live fulfilling lives,” explains Melvin. “Together, we are filling the gap in the lack of bereavement support services in Collier County and staying at the forefront of addressing childhood trauma.”
About Naples Children & Education Foundation
The Naples Children & Education Foundation, the founding organization of the Naples Winter Wine Festival, is improving the educational, emotional, and health outcomes of underprivileged and at-risk children. Through its annual grants and strategic initiatives, NCEF has impacted over 45 of the most effective nonprofits in the community, providing 275,000 children with the services and resources they need to excel. NCEF’s unique approach, which emphasizes collaboration between organizations and bridges public and private resources, has become a blueprint for how to transform a community, one issue at a time.
About Valerie’s House
Valerie’s House was founded by Angela Melvin in 2016 and is named for her mother, Valerie, a 31-year old nurse and mother of two who was killed in a car accident in 1987 as she drove to pick up her daughters from summer camp.
A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Valerie’s House provides grief support services to children and their families at its Fort Myers, Naples, and Punta Gorda locations. As the first and only grief support program focused solely on helping children grieve, Valerie’s House provides a safe, comfortable place for children to bond, grieve and heal together following the death of an immediate family member. Group support programs are provided at no charge to the families. Valerie’s House is a United Way partner agency that is fully supported through generous donations from the community. For more information, to enroll in programs, volunteer, or donate, visit www.ValeriesHouseSWFL.org or email info@ValeriesHouseSWFL.org.
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