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Black & White 2021 - Thank You!

Black & White 2021 - Thank You!

HOPE’s Night in Monte Carlo exceeded our expectations even though there were half the number of guests, no live auction or 50/50 raffle. The guests were beautiful, handsome, smiling but most of all, incredibly generous. We heard comments like, “This is the most fun we’ve had at a Black & White event,” or “What a beautiful and organized event,” and, “It’s great knowing HOPE is here when someone needs help” by Board and staff members throughout the evening. All we can say is Thank You!

Thank you to the Board of Directors lead by Co-Chairs, Michelle Cross and Katie Williams, who spearheaded the annual fundraiser, thank you to the staff members who turn out each year to make sure the event happens as seamlessly as possible and THANK YOU to you, our guests who came out to support survivors of domestic violence.

The pandemic has been anything but kind to victims and survivors of domestic violence. The number of incidents of domestic violence have skyrocketed and staff at HOPE have been stretched beyond all expectations. At our peak, we had nine hotel rooms while juggling a shelter at capacity with 11 families. Imagine if we didn’t have the money for the rooms and the callers were turned away due to a lack of resources. Would the homicide rate in our community skyrocket as well?

Home is not safe for everyone. Imagine if being locked in your home with someone who wants to hurt you and feeling as if there’s no way out. We’ve added a text line so those who need us can “reach out for help, without saying a word” day or night. Simply text the word survivor to 69922 and you’ll be silently chatting with a person who can help you organize a plan to stay safe. We couldn’t have done this without the support of the community.

Those suffering from domestic violence are safer thanks to our generous community, the community is stronger thanks to HOPE and HOPE is resilient thanks to you – our generous donors and supporters to whom we owe all our heartfelt appreciation. On behalf of those whose lives you’ve touched, again, I have to say thank you!

Click Here to check out our photo album from the Black & White 2021. 

October HOPE Heroes - 2021

October HOPE Heroes - 2021

October HOPE Heroes
Michelle & Katie - HOPE Board of Directors

Our HOPE Heroes for October are two outstanding members of HOPE’s Board of Directors and were the 2021 co-chairs for our annual Black & White Event. Michelle and Katie continuously go above and beyond in their positions at HOPE and we could not be more proud to have them on our team. Michelle serves on HOPE’s board as the Treasurer and Katie as HOPE’s Director of Membership.

About Michelle:


Michelle grew up in the Philadelphia area and graduated from the University of Delaware, which is where she met her husband, Tom. Michelle had talked about wanting to move to Florida for 10 years and finally did in 2015. She says it was the best decision ever! 

About Katie:


Katie grew up in Manatee County and attended a local high school. She currently works at the National Association of Fire Investigators. Katie has been a supporter of HOPE Family Services for 20+ years and has served on the board of directors for the last 6+ years. Katie’s father also sat on HOPE’s Board of Directors for a few years!

What have you learned while working at HOPE?
Michelle: That contrary to common belief, domestic abuse is present across all socioeconomic classes. You never know what goes on behind closed doors. The seemingly perfect couple who “has everything” may be hiding a big and dangerous secret.
Katie: Volunteering is a learning experience and you constantly continue to learn about others and about yourself.

What motivates you to volunteer with this organization?
Michelle: Someone very close to me once shared a story about having to spend a night in a shelter after fleeing an abusive situation. I want to make sure that parents and children have a safe place to go for support and empower them to seek help.
Katie: HOPE changes people’s lives, plain and simple.

Describe the most incredible view you’ve ever seen.
Michelle: The stars on a clear night in the Colorado mountains. It looked like you could reach out and touch them!
Katie: The Grand Canyon! It was breathtaking.

What’s your pizza order?
Michelle: NY style Margherita with extra cheese and fresh basil and a drizzle of truffle oil, yum!
Katie: Onions, mushrooms, & green olives!

We truly appreciate all of your hard work and dedication to our mission!

September HOPE Hero - 2021

September HOPE Hero - 2021

Lois - HOPE Volunteer

Our HOPE Hero for September is one of our phenomenal HOPE volunteers! Lois has been a valued member of our volunteer team and we can’t express how thankful we are to have her! She has played a role in making HOPE Chest Thrift Store become a place of positivity and happiness for survivors and local shoppers. Every day that Lois comes in, she has a fantastic time and goes above and beyond at helping.

What have you learned while volunteering at HOPE?
Lois: Since I started volunteering with HOPE, I have a better understanding of the scope of services that HOPE provides to local survivors. It makes me proud to be part of the HOPE Chest team.

What motivates you to volunteer with HOPE?
Lois: For starters, personal experience as well as, being a part of a dedicated and fun-loving team. Before volunteering with HOPE Chest Thrift Store, I had shopped there many times. Since then, it has transformed into the bright and cheerful place we all know it to be and I hope I can help keep that energy around.

What would your pet say about you if we asked for a reference?
Lois: That I am the ultimate human parent: tender, caring, fun, great cook, and warm cuddled. Above all else, I keep her safe.

Describe the most incredible view you’ve ever seen.
Lois: The sunset on the beach at Punta Del Nita, Nayarit, Mexico! I was lucky enough to see the “green flash” as the sun sank on the horizon. Absolutely incredible!

What’s your pizza order?
Lois: A New York-style white pizza with clams, garlic, and bacon… Heavenly!

We truly appreciate all of your hard work and dedication to our mission!

Thank You Back to School Drive 2021

BTS Donor Thank You List 2

Thanks to each and every one of you, we have provided over 150 children with necessary school supplies to start their year off right! No matter how children receive their education this year:  in-person or homeschooled - every student deserves the opportunity and resources to learn! Thank you, our generous donors, for contributing to this year’s Back to School Drive. We cannot put into words how grateful we are for our community of selfless and caring people - so thank you for continuing to support the children we serve each year with your kindness.        

Similar to last year, due to the uncertainty of where COVID would take us, our Back to School Drive was held differently. In addition to in-person donations, we brought back our online Wish List where donors could select specific items to be delivered directly to our office. We also offered the opportunity to “sponsor a backpack,” a simple way to help with school supplies by making an online donation. 

We would like to give a special thanks to the Louis and Gloria Flanzer Foundation, for supporting our efforts and DOUBLING each donation made through their website. 

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We were absolutely overwhelmed with the outpouring of support for our children. We had a fully stocked school supply room ready to offer the students we serve an opportunity to “shop” free of charge for their items. Every gift, regardless of size, helps set these children on the right track to succeed in school. This change wouldn't have been possible without assistance from our community. We can't thank you enough for your help during the current year's school supply drive! 

We welcome donations of all types, as our doors are always open for victims and survivors of domestic violence. Whether time, talent or treasure, we welcome your help for the families in our community who need our services. For a list of items we urgently need, please visit the donations section of our website. 

        Angels At Work B2S Donation 2021 Copy         4 Copy        Gator Lounge B2S 2 Copy

July HOPE Hero - 2021


Jill Retirement 07.15.2021 Copy
Jill joined HOPE Family Services 16 years ago and has been a valued member of our team. Over the years she has provided supportive counseling services to survivors and their children. Her commitment and dedication to the participants we serve are worthy of admiration. As Jill begins her new journey in life we wish her health and happiness, sprinkled with lots of fun! 

June HOPE Hero - 2021

Marilyn - HOPE Chest Volunteer

Our HOPE Hero for June is one of our extraordinary HOPE Chest volunteers! Marilyn continuously goes above and beyond to make sure survivors and customers find exactly what they are looking for while shopping in an organized store. It is volunteers like Marilyn who make HOPE Chest such an amazing place for our community.

image8About Marilyn:
Marilyn moved frequently while growing up but eventually moved to New Orleans which is where she attended college and met her husband. Marilyn later moved to Syracuse where her husband attended law school, they raised two daughters, she practiced dental hygiene for over 40 years, and also spent time volunteering. After her husband retired, they had a “love at first sight” moment with Sarasota and decided that they wanted to move.

What have you learned while volunteering at HOPE Chest?
Marilyn: While volunteering with HOPE Chest, I've garnered more patience, some business practices, merchandising skills, cooperation, and a little Spanish.

Tell us about your most memorable accomplishment with HOPE Chest.
Marilyn: Overall, helping people find exactly what they're looking for and hearing how grateful donors and customers are is always memorable. It is especially rewarding and memorable when I am able to help those who are clients of HOPE themselves.

Describe the most incredible view you’ve ever seen.
Marilyn: My brand new babies and my brand new granddaughter. 

What’s your pizza order?
Marilyn: The more veggies, the better! 

We truly appreciate all of your hard work and dedication to our mission!

May HOPE Heroes - 2021

Ada, Jill & Tiffanee - HOPE Counselors

Our HOPE Heroes for May are our outstanding counselors! They continuously go above and beyond while working with survivors and their children to ensure safety and strength and well-being for the families. Our Master’s level counselors provide individual, family and group counseling to survivors and children affected by domestic violence.

image15About Ada: 

Ada attended Buffalo State College and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work, then went on to graduate from Webster University with a Master of Arts in Counseling. She has worked at HOPE for 5 years,  providing bilingual counseling to survivors of domestic violence. Her work has been important to assist HOPE’s efforts of sharing resources with our Spanish-speaking community members.

About Jill:

Jill is originally from Michigan but has lived in many southern states throughout her life. She has a Bachelor's degree in Psychology and a Master’s in Counseling. She has three children, two granddaughters, and one adorable Aussie. In her free time, she enjoys reading, playing tennis, running with her dog, and going on new adventures. Jill has been a Counselor at HOPE for almost 15 years. 

image16About Tiffanee:

Born and raised in Bradenton, Tiffanee went on to attend the University of Florida where she majored in Sociology and minored in General Education. She continued her education and received her Master’s of Counseling in Arts and Science from Webster University. Tiffanee has been employed with HOPE for almost 15 years, served as Interim Shelter Director and is currently working as a Children’s Counselor. Throughout her time with HOPE, she has always been a dedicated advocate for survivors of domestic violence.

What have you learned while working at HOPE?

Ada: I have become more aware of how big a problem domestic violence is within the Hispanic community.

Jill: While working with HOPE, I have learned more about being open to new experiences and how to work on challenges. I am thankful to be working alongside the most amazing diverse and empowering group of women that I learn from on a daily basis. 

Tiffanee: I've learned that domestic violence does not discriminate. It affects people of every race, gender, socioeconomic background, and religion. It's humbling to know that when a client comes through our doors, they are putting their lives in my hands and trusting me to walk with them through their journey. Knowing that I’m a part of an important  journey with each client and that if we continue to put in hard work, the results will be great.

Tell us about your most memorable accomplishment with HOPE.

Ada: It was special to assist and support a mother in her journey to become reunified with her children that were once removed from her and placed in the State’s custody due to domestic violence.

Jill: Overall, being able to help so many different survivors and playing a role in their journey will always be a memorable accomplishment of mine.

Tiffanee: My most memorable accomplishment was relocating a client out of state to a place she had dreamed of moving to start over. I wasn't going to rest until I got her there, and I am proud we were able to! 

Describe the most incredible view you’ve ever seen.

Ada: The sunset while on the beach. 

Jill: The Grand Canyon and the births of my children and grandchildren.

Tiffanee: The sky while flying over the gulf of Mexico is a beautiful sight. 

What’s your pizza order?

Ada: Buffalo Chicken Pizza. 

Jill: Ham & mushrooms!

Tiffanee: Thin crust garlic & pesto sauce with chicken, spinach, and pineapple. I always make sure to add a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. 

We truly appreciate all of your hard work and dedication to our mission!

April HOPE Hero - 2021

Sonja - HOPE Volunteer

image12About Sonja:
Sonja went to school in Brookfield, CT, and attended Fones School of Dental Hygiene in Bridgeport, CT. She enjoyed her career as a Dental Hygienist for 35 years and is now retired. Sonja is a dedicated HOPE Chest volunteer and loves to share stories and laugh with the staff and other volunteers.

What have you learned while volunteering?
Volunteering has opened my eyes to domestic violence and how “ protected” it can be behind closed doors. It made me realize that I don’t know anyone’s story before meeting them.

What advice would you give to a future volunteer?
Just come and see how much joy you will receive, knowing the good HOPE is continuously doing. It fills my heart and I think it will fill yours, too.

Tell us about your most memorable accomplishment with this organization.
About 4 years ago, a survivor came into HOPE Chest with a voucher to shop free of charge and I was helping at the register. She was in her 60’s and said she didn’t know how to pick out clothes to wear. I helped pick out some tops and bottoms for her and she didn’t feel she could wear something “ so nice”. I showed her in the mirror how pretty she looked and she cried. Touching just one life feels like a great accomplishment.

What motivates you to work with this organization?
I am motivated by how much good HOPE brings to the community.

Describe yourself using only film titles.
“Footloose”, because I love to dance. “Beaches”, because I love the water.

Is there something that excites you so much it keeps you awake the night before?
Traveling is always exciting!

Describe the most incredible view you’ve ever seen.
Skiing in the Alps.

What’s your pizza order?
Either Veggies or BBQ Chicken.

We truly appreciate all of your hard work and dedication to our mission!
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March HOPE Heroes - 2021

Dawn - HOPE Shelter Director
Kristina - HOPE Program Director
image2About Dawn:
Dawn was born in Delaware and moved to Florida when she was six. She graduated from Southeast High School here in Bradenton and received a Bachelor's degree in Human Development from Eckerd College. She is married and has two daughters. She has been a HOPE employee since 2000. Dawn started as a part-time Shelter Advocate for her first year, then when HOPE had an opening for a full-time advocate, Dawn quickly applied and the shelter manager promoted her immediately. She excelled in the roles of being a Shelter Advocate, Transitional Housing Advocate, Advocacy Director, and now the Shelter Director. Dawn has been with HOPE for almost 21 years! We like to tease her that she was only 5 when she started.
image1About Kristina:
Kristina is from Buffalo, New York, and moved to Florida to be closer to her family. The timing was good as she was leaving an unhealthy relationship. She went to school in New York for business but decided she wanted to work in a field that would help people feel good about their lives and be the best they could be, so she went back to school and graduated with a degree in Mental Health Counseling. She began working with HOPE as a volunteer in 2002, conducted her internship for her Master’s in the counseling department, was later hired as a counselor, and is currently our Program Director. Kristina just celebrated 17 years as a staff member and can easily show the countless lives she’s helped change for the better!
What have you learned while on the job?
Dawn: That we are more alike than we are different and remembering that keeps me grounded.
Kristina: I have learned the importance of listening. By listening well, we are able to better assist participants.
What advice would you give to a future volunteer or employee?
Dawn: It’s simple, just being a kind voice and listening ear when needed.
Kristina: Remember, this is about the participants.
What motivates you to work with this organization?
Dawn: No matter what area you are working in, we are all part of the bigger picture.
Kristina: I agree with HOPE’s mission and believe that what we do makes a difference in our participant’s lives.
Describe yourself using only film titles.
Dawn: The Pursuit of Happiness.
Kristina: Sometimes… “It’s a Disaster,” but mostly “Life is Beautiful” and trying to look “Up.”
What would your pets say about you if we asked for a reference?
Dawn: I don’t have a pet yet but my future pet would say I’m a little slow and I need to come to find them.
Kristina: My girl would say, “My mom is very patient because I love to sniff everything!”
Is there something that excites you so much it keeps you awake the night before?
Dawn: Holidays and family events. I’m a big kid at heart and I get so excited about spending time with my loved ones and giving gifts.
Kristina: Going on vacation to somewhere I have never been before.
Describe the most incredible view you’ve ever seen.
Dawn: The shores of La Jolla Beach in California.
Kristina: Middle Falls at Letchworth State Park in New York state in the Fall.
What’s your pizza order?
Dawn: Ham, pineapples, and olives for sure!
Kristina: Pepperoni and extra cheese.
We truly appreciate all of your hard work and dedication to our mission!


March HOPE Hero

Kristina Tincher - HOPE Program Director

About Kristina:
Kristina is from Buffalo, New York, and moved to Florida to be closer to her family after leaving an unhealthy relationship. She went to school in New York for business but decided she wanted to work in a field that would help people be the best they could be, so she went back to school and graduated with a degree in Mental Health Counseling. She began working with HOPE as a volunteer in 2002, started interning at our Outreach Center in 2003, was later hired as a counselor, and is currently our Program Director.

What have you learned while on the job/while volunteering?
I have learned the importance of listening. By listening well, we are able to better assist participants.

What advice would you give to a future volunteer?
Remember, this is about the participants.

What motivates you to work with this organization?
I agree with HOPE’s mission and believe that what we do makes a difference in our participant’s lives. 

Describe yourself using only film titles.
Sometimes… “It’s a Disaster,” but mostly “Life is Beautiful” and trying to look “Up.”

What would your pets say about you if we asked for a reference?
My girl would say “My mom is very patient because I love to sniff everything!”

Is there something that excites you so much it keeps you awake the night before?
Going on vacation to somewhere I have never been before.

Describe the most incredible view you’ve ever seen.
Middle Falls at Letchworth State Park in New York state in the Fall.

What’s your pizza order?
Pepperoni and extra cheese.

We truly appreciate all of your hard work and dedication to our mission!

February HOPE Hero - 2021

Kimberly - HOPE Primary Prevention Advocate

image9About Kimberly:
Kimberly was originally born in the Cayman Islands and was raised here in Bradenton. She attended Bayshore High School and then pursued her BA in Social Work and Psychology at the University of South Florida. Kim is currently the Prevention Advocate at HOPE working with young people. Her favorite color is blue, all of the different shades of blue, and her hobbies include shopping, being outside, and watching movies.

What is your most memorable accomplishment here at HOPE?
The most memorable accomplishment here at HOPE is being able to change the lives of the youth in our community. I love making a big positive impact on our youth and getting the opportunity to speak to the students in the schools. It makes me feel good when the students recognize me in the hallways. With the uncertainty of COVID, it was a memorable accomplishment to help bring fun and smiles to the children we serve by organizing socially distanced events, Halloween and Winter Wonderland.

Why did you choose to work in this industry?
I am involved with HOPE to help lead and guide young people in the awareness of Teen Dating Violence. I help teach the fundamentals of what having a healthy and unhealthy relationship should consist of to teens and young adults. I hope we will see fewer victims of domestic violence in the future, thanks to what they learn today.

What motivates you to work with this organization?
I am motivated by learning new things, activities, and ideas that can help me to teach our youth. This organization allows me to push myself through challenges, obstacles, and tests that make me the best version of myself.

Describe yourself using only film titles.
Jumanji – I am adventurous, ready to take on new things, and continue to work on my imperfections. Trolls – I want to save the world and make everything glitter again in people’s lives by encouraging them.

What would your pets say about you if we asked for a reference?
My pets would say that I am compassionate about everything I do and my presence shines like the sun.

Is there something that excited you so much it keeps you awake the night before?
Planning for a trip, project or event excites me and definitely has me up wondering: “Is it time yet?”

What’s your pizza order?
“May I order a pan cheese pizza with all pepperoni, all bacon, and half sausage (or beef, depending on my mood) with butter garlic crust. Thanks!”

We truly appreciate all of your hard work and dedication to our mission!

January 2021: HOPE Heroes


January HOPE Heroes

David & Motria - HOPE Volunteers


About David: 

IMG 2807 1 1David is a New Jersey native and graduated from the NJ Institute of Technology with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering. After graduating, he worked for 40 years in the Engineering/Construction industry and later, moved to Florida in 2003 with his wife, Motria. After retiring, David began volunteering at Meals on Wheels in St. Petersburg and now volunteers in the Administrative Office at HOPE Family Services. David offers clerical support by assisting with spreadsheet and database entry.

About Motria: 

Motria was born in Buffalo, NY and raised in northeast New Jersey by her parents who immigrated from Ukraine just before she was born. Motria did not speak any English until she attended Kindergarten and still remains close friends with a grade school peer. After completing her Bachelors and Masters degree from Rutgers University, she achieved a 40-year career as a clinical social worker and spent 25 of those years with the VA mental health system. Motria first got involved at HOPE Chest Thrift Store, where she continues to volunteer as a cashier twice weekly. She has also spent time volunteering at HOPE’s Emergency Safe Shelter, answering phone calls and helping the residents.


What have you learned while working at HOPE?

David: In addition to refreshing my data entry skills, I have learned a great deal about the realities of domestic violence and the variety of services HOPE offers. 

Motria: I have learned how to run a cash register - not something I ever thought I would do! It's satisfying and fun interacting with many of the customers while raising money for the shelter.  I have also learned a great deal about domestic violence issues and services.


What motivates you to work with HOPE?

David: I find it gratifying to take on some of the workload to help the hardworking staff at HOPE.  

Motria: I am always learning so much new information about domestic violence. I suspected that there would be lots of other meaningful volunteering opportunities and I have not been disappointed.


What advice would you give to a future volunteer? 

David: Try to be open to new experiences!  Whatever your talents and interests, you may be surprised to learn how, where and when you can be of help. 

Motria: Just do it!  I never thought I would or could do many of the tasks I now am involved with while volunteering. I have met the nicest and kindest people through my volunteer activities.


Describe the most incredible view you’ve ever seen.

David: Seeing Mt. Kilimanjaro at a distance, while on safari in Kenya.

Motria: Seeing newly-born lion cubs in Kenya.


What’s your pizza order?

David: Thin crust with sausage.

Motria: Thin crust with extra cheese.


We truly appreciate all of your hard work and dedication to our mission! 

HOPE’S 2020 Holiday Recap 

HOPE’S 2020 Holiday Recap 

HOPE’S 2020 Holiday Recap 

During the holidays, HOPE’s staff and volunteers work hard to ensure a festive atmosphere for the families who come to us for safety. The community was invited to participate in several projects that have a positive impact on the lives of survivors and their families and remind them there are people who care, which helps healing during what can often be a difficult time of year. Despite the uncertainty of 2020,  residents and participants were fortunate to have an outpouring of support for our annual holiday campaign. It was a glorious holiday season!


Our holiday projects included: 

Embrace-A-Family 2020: 151 individuals in total (45 families | 106 children) 

The Embrace -A-Family project invited families, neighbors, community groups, and co-workers to come together to embrace HOPE families by purchasing specific items from survivors’ wish lists. We’d like to give a special shout out to our friends at Peach’s Restaurants. They embraced 17 families, including 30 children! Well done Peaches, well done!


The Holiday Gift Shop 2020: 380 individuals in total (117 families | 263 children) 

Our Holiday Gift Shop gave participants a sense of excitement; each participant had the opportunity to shop for their children, free of charge. These gifts ensured survivors experienced the joy of providing for the youngest family members and made their holidays safe and happy. The children had the special opportunity of surprising their moms with gifts from our mom’s store too.  It was so much fun to help children learn the gift of caring for someone else.


Total Impact of 2020 Holiday Projects: 531 individuals! (162 families | 369 children)

On behalf of the survivors we serve, thank you for opening your hearts to support HOPE’s annual holiday projects. Every gift given helped the holidays become more joyful. Remember, together there is HOPE. 


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The photos below are a few thank you cards from our HOPE families!

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November: HOPE Heroes

November HOPE Heroes

Julie Ann & Natoria - HOPE Attorneys

Our HOPE Heroes for November are the hardworking Injunction for Protection (IFP) Project attorneys at HOPE. The IFP Project attorneys are Florida Bar-licensed, provide free legal representation and legal counsel to survivors in Injunction for Protection (restraining order) cases against their abuser.


About Julie Ann: 

Julie Ann Embler moved to Florida from the suburbs of Philadelphia to attend the University of Central Florida.  She went on to Stetson University College of Law where she graduated from the Honors Program, Cum Lade. Ms. Embler started her legal career with legal aid where she focused on family law and housing issues before starting at HOPE Family Services.




About Natoria: 

Natoria D. Hubbard received her B.A. from the University of South Florida in 2006. Ms. Hubbard received her M.S. from Troy University in 2008 and her Juris Doctor degree (with honors) from Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 2012. Prior to attending law school, Natoria worked as a case manager for children and families involved in dependency court as a result of abuse and/or neglect. During her tenure as an Assistant State Attorney in Lee County, she managed a docket with over 400 cases and obtained jury trial experience. She concentrated her efforts in the Domestic Violence Unit and developed an affinity for helping victims and relied immensely on the efforts of victim advocates.



What have you learned while working at HOPE?

Julie Ann: I have learned that there is always something that you can do for someone, even if you can't do everything for everyone.  

Natoria: I have learned that our work has a huge positive impact on the lives of the families we serve. 


What motivates you to work with HOPE?

Julie Ann: I went to law school with one goal in mind - to find a career that allows me to help those in need on a full-time basis. HOPE allows me to do that while being surrounded by compassionate, skilled professionals at every level, which keeps me motivated to do this difficult work every day. 

Natoria: I am motivated by being able to assist clients during difficult times and the ‘clients-first’ philosophy adhered to by the organization. 

Natoria has been instrumental in starting the IFP Project at HOPE and has been here since the project’s inception.


Tell us about your most memorable accomplishment with HOPE.

Julie Ann: Every time we get a favorable outcome for a survivor is memorable. 

Natoria: Overall, being able to assist survivors during critical times is the most rewarding aspect of the job for me. 


Describe the most incredible view you’ve ever seen.

Julie Ann: The views from the chairlifts and gondolas in the Swiss Alps.

Natoria: The arch of Cabo San Lucas in Mexico.


What’s your pizza order?

Julie Ann: Meatballs & mushrooms!

Natoria: Pepperoni!

We truly appreciate all of your hard work and dedication to our mission!

HOPE in Motion 2020

HOPEinMotion FB Event copy


About HOPE in Motion: 

At HOPE Family Services, we provide essential services to local survivors of domestic violence free of charge to help them stay safe, gain strength and evaluate their options. The COVID-19 pandemic has created new circumstances where the safety of survivors and their children may be further compromised. During this unprecedented time, it has been reported that domestic violence has increased by 25%+. Our virtual event, HOPE in Motion, was created in response to the increased acts of intimate partner violence and in support of the victims and survivors in Manatee County. 

The Inaugural HOPE in Motion Challenge will begin on October 1st and run through the entire month of October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month. You can participate in this virtual event from anywhere, individually, or as part of a team. We are asking participants to just move, whether it's walking, running, jogging, biking, doing yoga, or even just strolling with your dog. Each step taken helps to raise awareness while supporting our goal of bringing services to those who need it the most.


Take Steps for Domestic Violence Survivors!





  • Registration is $40 per participant. 
  • The first 300 participants registered with will receive a HOPE in Motion “swag bag” which will include a Domestic Violence Awareness month shirt. 
  • Sign up as an individual or add to the fun by forming a team and challenging others to some friendly competition.



  • We are encouraging each participant to raise funds with an individual goal of just $75. All funds raised from this event will go to support services for battered women and their children.  
  • Set a personal step goal and invite family, friends, co-workers, exercise buddies, etc. to participate or support you to raise much-needed funds and awareness.
  • Each week we will celebrate the “step” and fundraising leaders! 



There are three ways to track your progress:

1. Download the free Charity Footprints App

2. Sync your fitness device (Fitbit, Apple Watch, Garmin, Google Fit, Misfit, Strava) OR just use your health app on your iPhone.

3. Manually enter your miles on your event page. (See step conversion chart below) 



  • Connect with your social network to help raise awareness and reach your fitness and fundraising goals. 
  • Share your progress regularly on social media by posting pictures and short videos to spread the word.
  • We encourage you to share photos on your social media pages wearing your HOPE in Motion t-shirt or something purple to help spread awareness during Domestic Violence Awareness Month!  
  • Make sure to tag us (@hopefamilyservices) and use #HOPEinMotion2020


Remember Because of YOU, There is HOPE! 




Back to School Drive 2020

We are incredibly thankful for everyone who showed their support by donating to our Back to School Drive during this uncertain time. Thanks to generous hearts in our community, we were able to provide children with essential school supplies to start this school year. 

As we approached this year’s Back to School Drive -- similar to how we’ve all felt over the last few months -- we felt an immense degree of uncertainty. We were not sure whether our community would feel comfortable with donating items in-person like previous years, so our team created new ways to make donations online. We added an Amazon Wish List where donors could select specific items to be delivered directly to our office and offered the opportunity to “sponsor a backpack” filled with school supplies by making an online donation of $25. As schools began preparing for a new year that would be a mix between in-person, online, and hybrid learning, we adapted our donation lists with new items to help students learn virtually, such as USB flash drives and headphones. 

We were absolutely blown away, after receiving an outpouring amount of support from our community, we had a fully stocked school supply room ready to offer the families we serve an opportunity to “shop” (free of charge). Smiles and excitement filled the room each time a participant visited and picked out their very own supplies for their children.  Each donation made, small or large, will help set these students on the right track to excel in school. This opportunity wouldn’t have been possible without help from a community that believes in our mission and cares about kids. We can’t thank you enough for your support during this year’s school supply drive!

Our doors are always open for donations of all types - whether time, talent or treasure - to help women & families in our community. For a list of items we need urgently, please visit the donations section of our website.


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October: HOPE Hero

October HOPE Hero: Dan

About our HOPE Hero:

Dan was born in Sharon, Pa just outside of Pittsburgh, graduated from Saint Francis University with a degree in Sociology, and later earned a Masters in Hospital & Health Administration from Xavier University. Dan has been dedicated to supporting the mission of HOPE for 16 years and is the current Board Chairman for HOPE Family Services.

What have you learned while volunteering with HOPE?

The small things we can do for other people can really make a difference and have a big impact on the recipient.

What advice would you give to a future volunteer or employee?

Do not underestimate the impact you have on those around you.

What motivates you to volunteer with this organization? 

We are a valuable community resource — our mission is to reach out and serve those who are in a difficult situation and need the loving help that only HOPE has the means to provide them.

Tell us about your most memorable accomplishment with this organization.

About 10 to 12 years ago, I lead a day-long retreat with the HOPE Staff where many of the ideas for today’s programs and facilities had their origin. 

Describe the most incredible view you've ever seen

Wow, I have been fortunate to have so many: Looking out at the Great Wall of China, coming up on the menagerie of animals at a watering hole while on a photo safari in South Africa, schools of fish while diving, and always the view from my front porch looking in! 

What would your pet say about you if we asked for a reference?

I always take time to share a kind word and to give a good pat on the neck. 

What’s your pizza order?

Pepperoni, Mushrooms, Sausage, and Black Olives.

We truly appreciate all of your hard work and dedication to our mission! 

August: HOPE Hero

August HOPE Hero: Gregg

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About our HOPE Hero:

Gregg lived in Annapolis, Maryland, and Pittsburgh before moving to Florida four years ago. He graduated from the University of Maryland and spent his career as a supply chain manager for the food and beverage industry before retiring to Florida. Gregg volunteers with HOPE by dedicating time on the weekends and holidays to pick up donations from Publix and deliver them to our Emergency Safe Shelter. 


What have you learned while volunteering with HOPE?

What I have learned is that without a service like HOPE Family Services a lot of women in Manatee County who are abused would continue to fall victim to abuse with little or no option to escape. They would, along with their children, be stuck in a never-ending cycle of abuse.  


What advice would you give to a future volunteer or employee?

Whatever you do to volunteer with HOPE,  remember that you are doing good for people who need support in probably their darkest hours.

What motivates you to volunteer with this organization? 

Every time I deliver food to the shelter, I see the dedicated shelter staff that supports and tends to the needs of survivors of domestic violence. I see a staff that works hard with the survivors to help them become independent from their abusers. I also see a lot of very young children who are continuously supported by the shelter staff. I always feel motivated when I get to talk to the shelter staff and witness their dedication to HOPE’s mission, especially with Dawn, Kathy, Letty, Uganda, and many others.


Tell us about your most memorable accomplishment with this organization.

Moving the food donations from Fresh Market to Publix opened up an opportunity to add meat and produce to the donation list along with baked goods. I got that started just out of blind luck by simply asking if Publix would donate meat and produce. Moving the donations to Publix introduced an opportunity for many more boxes of donations, this was a huge win for the shelter and continues to be a win for them every week. 


Describe yourself using only film titles.

I love the movie Ben Hur, especially the line where the Roman Centurion says to Juda Ben Hur when he is a galley slave, "We keep you alive to serve this ship, so row well.....and live!" The Outlaw Josey Wales comes in a close second — Clint's the man! And last but not least, Vincent Price in the Last Man on Earth, Vincent saves the world from the Vampire Pandemic and it’s a great 60s Horror movie.


Is there something that excites you so much it keeps you awake the night before?

Driving a thousand miles from Maryland to Florida in one day. I've done it many times over 40 years before we moved down here permanently.


What’s your pizza order?

I like meat on my pizza. My wife likes veggies. I always say, "Hey! If I wanted veggies on my pizza I'd order a salad!" I want meat on my pizza: pepperoni, sausage, ham, bacon......yummy! So what do we order every Friday.......veggies!  (Mostly Greek Pizza)

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We truly appreciate all of your hard work and dedication to our mission! 

September: HOPE Hero

September HOPE Hero: Jim

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About our HOPE Hero:

Jim grew up in Dover, New Hampshire, and graduated from Dover High School.  He moved to Florida seven years ago and began helping at HOPE Chest by organizing and rearranging the furniture department and helping unload and load furniture donations. He continues to volunteer at HOPE Chest to help make an impact on survivors of domestic violence. 


What have you learned while volunteering with HOPE?

The number one takeaway for me has been how nice it feels to help others. 


What advice would you give to a future volunteer or employee?

If you have spare time and want to help others, HOPE Chest is the place to volunteer! The rewards are much greater than expected.


What motivates you to volunteer with this organization? 

Once I started volunteering, I got to meet the other wonderful volunteers and staff, now they are my Florida family! I have never met such wonderful people!


Tell us about your most memorable accomplishment with this organization.

The very first time I had a client who was so grateful for our help, she cried. It made me so happy to help!


Describe the most incredible view you've ever seen

My daughter being handed to me after her birth. 


What would your pet say about you if we asked for a reference?

She would say I’m reliable and that I take care of my loved ones and my responsibilities.


What’s your pizza order?

Oma's Pizza and Italian Restuarant's white pizza!


We truly appreciate all of your hard work and dedication to our mission! 

July: HOPE Hero

July HOPE Heroes - Dina

About our HOPE Hero

Dina was born and raised in the Washington D.C. area but is thrilled to be in Florida.  She became an elementary art teacher after going to art school in Boston and decided to resign from being in the school system to pursue her passion for coaching power skating for ice hockey. Dina then spent 8 years working with a non-profit whose mission was to create a better quality of life for veterans and first responders. She has always enjoyed helping others in any capacity she can. Dina ran a skating program for outpatient veterans at Walter Reed Hospital for two years and was also involved with animal rescues for many years, fostering any dog she could. Now, Dina is primarily a painter and is in the process of trying to sell her work online. In her free time, she loves being creative, and seeing things that can be ordinary, become extraordinary with a little paint. 

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What have you learned while working at HOPE? 

Everyone has a story and a journey.  For some, life is more difficult than it should be and we should show compassion and empathy in any way possible.  Whether making food baskets or Christmas packages for anyone in need, it is something that makes my day better hoping that whatever I do to help will create a smile and a glimmer of hope.  The positive energy and enthusiasm of the staff and volunteers make me want to do more for the survivors, families, and children. 

What motivates you to volunteer with this organization? 

I love the positive vibe and how the volunteers and staff are so dedicated to working with and helping survivors.

What advice would you give to a future volunteer or employee?

I would tell them that positivity and a smile go a long way.  Any type of volunteer work that can be done for the organization is valuable. Showing empathy and compassion is important and no judgment is important. 

Describe the most incredible view you’ve ever seen.

Flying on a plane with the sunset coming through the clouds was incredible or seeing a huge double rainbow when the skies opened up after a storm. 

Is there something that excites you so much it keeps you awake the night before?

I still wake up thinking about creative skating drills for ice hockey.  I will also wake up with a thought on my next painting or an idea to add to what I am currently working on. I am constantly creatively thinking. 


We truly appreciate all of your hard work and dedication to our mission! 

Impact of COVID-19 to HOPE Family Services

Domestic violence is often stereotyped to look like bruises on battered women and sound like loud arguments from neighbors. However, it’s important to remember there are many behaviors used by an abuser to maintain power & control. Domestic violence has different forms including physical and sexual violence, threats, intimidation, emotional abuse, and economic deprivation. 

We know external factors that add stress, isolation, and financial strain can create circumstances where a survivor’s safety is further compromised. When survivors are forced to stay in the home or in close proximity to their abuser more frequently, an abuser can use any tool to exert control over their victim, including a global health concern such as COVID-19.

The Impact of COVID-19 to HOPE

During the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, domestic violence centers across the country were experiencing a slight decrease in cases and hotline calls. In fact, the National Hotline for Domestic Violence shared that its contact volume in March 2020 decreased by 6% compared to the previous year. At HOPE Family Services during the month of March 2020, we experienced a similar decrease in hotline calls, compared to March 2019. (The HOPE Family Services 24-Hour HelpLine is (941) 747-8499) We believe the decrease occurred because this global pandemic has put up unique barriers for survivors to access support safely.

The 24/7 Live ChatLine on our website is a service where survivors can talk to advocates without the fear of being overheard by their abuser. Over the last three months (March 2020 - May 2020) we have received 248 chats from survivors in our community.

During this time of great uncertainty, one of the most important services our advocates offer is personalized safety planning. This could not be more critical during this three-month period as survivors navigated shelter-in-place requirements with reduced in-person support services because of social distancing.

As quarantine orders began to lift throughout the country, our HelpLine contact volume from March 2020 to May 2020 had an increase of 14%. As Florida lifted its safer-at-home orders and survivors found brief windows to contact our advocates safely. Even when the major threat of this pandemic is over, there will be long-term effects on the health and safety of survivors – and we must prioritize their safety and their needs.


The effects of COVID-19 will continue to be felt by survivors - Here’s how you can help:

Many of us feel socially isolated and fearful of the uncertainty of this pandemic. These feelings are only amplified for survivors of domestic violence. You can help a survivor by being supportive, helping to focus their attention on the things they can control, and encouraging them to practice self-care. For more tips on how to stay safe during COVID-19, click here. 

If you suspect someone you care about is experiencing unhealthy behaviors in their relationship, reach out and connect with them. The connection and support you provide could be critical for a survivor’s well-being. 

Wondering how to support and give back to survivors? Please help us spread the message that HOPE is here and survivors are not alone, by sharing our posts on social media, especially Instagram and Facebook. You can also support our services by donating (clothing and household items) or shopping at the HOPE Chest thrift store, located at 1215 8th Ave W, Bradenton, FL 34205. The proceeds from purchases at HOPE Chest directly impact the lives of survivors in our community. 


If you are feeling unsafe during this time, or if you are concerned that a family member, friend or neighbor may be in danger, please call (941) 747-8499 or if you’re unable to speak safely, visit our 24/7 Live Chatline: 

HOPE is here.

June HOPE Heroes

June HOPE Heroes - Louise & Holly 

About our HOPE Heroes

Caring mother and daughter-in-law duo, Louise and Holly, are dedicated volunteers at our HOPE Chest Thrift Store and this month's HOPE Heroes!

Originally from Michigan, Louise retired to the Bahamas for 20 years and began volunteering at HOPE after returning to Florida. Louise is a proud mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, and for nine years has been a wonderful volunteer for HOPE! Originally from Massachusetts, Holly retired to Florida after spending time traveling and teaching ballroom dance. After being invited to volunteer at HOPE Chest with Louise, she immediately loved being able to make a difference in someone’s life and has volunteered ever since. 

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What have you learned while working at HOPE? 

Holly: Since working at the HOPE Chest, I've learned that anyone, from any economic level or background, can find themselves the victim of domestic violence. It's amazing what HOPE can do to help those who find themselves in this sad situation. 

Louise: The work is very fulfilling, and you get to meet and talk with lots of different people who donate to the HOPE Chest.


What motivates you to volunteer with this organization? 

Holly: There are two main motivating factors why I volunteer at the HOPE Chest.  First, because of all of the outstanding work they do for survivors of domestic violence, and second, because of the camaraderie among the volunteers. It's a lot of work, but a lot of fun.  

Louise: I get a great deal of satisfaction at the end of the day. Volunteering at the HOPE Chest makes me feel that my work matters, and that in some small way, I have made a difference in someone's life. That is an amazing feeling, and an achievement to make anyone smile!


What advice would you give to a future volunteer or employee?

Holly: I would advise any new volunteer to feel free to ask anyone working at the HOPE Chest for guidance or to answer questions if needed. The volunteers and employees are fantastic and are always eager to help others.

Louise: The work is very fulfilling and you will learn a lot about working with different people and different personalities.


Describe the most incredible view you’ve ever seen.

Holly: Watching the sunset while in Hawaii.

Louise: The view of the ocean right from my house in Abaco, Bahamas.


Is there something that excites you so much it keeps you awake the night before?

Holly: Going on a trip, getting to see friends that I haven't seen in a long time and any type of animal adventure - like swimming with dolphins!

Louise: Definitely before going on vacation. I never sleep the night before due to my level of excitement!


We truly appreciate all of your hard work and dedication to our mission! 

March HOPE Heroes: Emergency Safe Shelter Staff


THANK YOU, Emergency Safe Shelter Staff!

We want to recognize our Emergency Safe Shelter advocates as the HOPE Heroes of the month for their continuous efforts in providing safety to survivors of domestic violence. As many individuals and companies are able to make the transition to working remotely during COVID-19, our shelter staff are working around the clock 24/7/365 to help provide safety to those who are not safe in their own homes.

HOPE provides a safe place in a confidential location for victims of domestic violence to evaluate their options. The shelter, designed to allow those who need it time in a safe place to make choices that empower them to live a life safe from the controlling tactics of an abusive partner. We provide survivors the resources and opportunities to be utilized in their best interests of themselves and their children. 

The shelter staff provide 24-hour advocacy by answering the Helplines, Chatlines, and providing safety planning options. They also help provide basic needs, supportive services, activities for the families and above all, cleaning to make sure all families stay safe and healthy during this pandemic.

We truly appreciate their dedication and commitment to helping save lives. #HOPEisHere #WeAreHOPE

Our advocate team works around the clock to support those in need. Unfortunately, not all of our advocates are featured below.

Shelter staff1   Shelter staff3   Shelter staff2   Shelter staff5


COVID-19 Community Services

COVID-19 Community Services

Manatee County

**New Updates**

Charter will offer free Spectrum broadband and Wi-Fi access for 60 days to households with K-12 and/or college students who do not already have a Spectrum broadband subscription and at any service level up to 100 Mbps. To enroll call 1-844-488-8395. Installation fees will be waived for new student households.

Previous Information

Turning Points is still open serving critical and essential services to the most vulnerable men, women, and children in the community.

  • Anyone who enters the One-Stop Center is screened - with their temperature taken and questions asked.
  • The Medical Clinic is OPEN and seeing primary care patients only (8:30am-4pm). Specialty care appointments are being rescheduled.
  • The Dental Clinic is OPEN seeing emergencies in the morning (8:30am-Noon). All other appointments are being rescheduled.
  • The Open Door Resource Center is OPEN and is providing these services (8:30am-2pm) - Bathroom Access, Mailroom, Laundry, Showers and Food Stamps (but can change on a daily basis).
  • Transitional Development Program TDP (rent & utilities assistance) - new applications will be accepted through their website on Monday morning starting at 9 am. 
    • Interviews with Case Managers will be over the phone. There are further instructions on their website as well as the application.
  • Veterans Services - same process as TDP above.
  • MAPS Program - no change in services.

The Food Bank of Manatee is providing food to Manatee County food pantries and partner agencies who are ready to assist those in need.  For a complete list of food pantries, hours of operation, addresses, and contact information, please click here.   It is recommended for those in need of assistance to call ahead and confirm hours of operation.

The Salvation Army Manatee - Shelters are now at the maximum service capacity per COVID19 precautions. They are temporarily suspending new intake into the facilities. They will continue to provide services to families and single women in their Shelter Programs.

  • Starting Monday, March 30th they will have a Shelter in Place at the Shelters. Clients may only leave to go to the store once a day or to work or doctor appointments. 
  • Community Dinner Feeding - We are still doing community feeding. It is taking place outside with to go meals. The meal time has been changed to 3:00 in the afternoon for community feeding.
  • Social Services - Lobby is closed but services are still available. 

Manatee County COVID-19 Drive-Through Collection Site - Visitors to the collection site must have a prescription to be tested for COVID-19 and have made an appointment in advance with Manatee County Health Department. To make an appointment, call (941) 748-0747.

United Way Suncoast is now accepting applications for our COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund, which provides emergency funding to agencies supporting individuals and families affected by COVID-19. We welcome applications from any eligible non-profit human services organization serving people in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Manatee, Sarasota, and DeSoto counties in the priority areas listed below, with an emphasis on the ALICE population.

Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) temporarily closed all storefronts and lobbies.

Goodwill Manasota has closed the Job Connection offices until further notice.

The Salvation Army Manatee has shifted their evening community dinner from 5 pm in the dining room to 3 pm outside, where they are passing out food in the clamshell “to go” containers.

Early Learning Coalition of Manatee County has decided to suspend in-person interactions at our office in Palmetto. Effective, Thursday, March 19th at 6 pm, they will suspend in-person client appointments, and all Coalition operations and services will be provided remotely.  Ongoing operations to serve the children, families, and early learning programs of Manatee County are operating at full capacity remotely.

Centerstone Hospital and Addictions Center is fully operational and continues to serve clients. They are screening people who come to the hospital campus and clinics by asking questions about their recent health and travels. This screening includes taking temperatures using an infrared thermometer.

  • They are conducting the same screenings during client phone intake interviews.
  • They have stopped all visitation to the hospital and addictions center until further notice.
  • They have stopped participation in offsite meetings and instead offer video or phone options.
  • They have stopped volunteer participation in their facilities.
  • They are checking the temperature of their staff, including cleaning crews, prior to each shift.
  • They have increased cleaning procedures and have posted additional information regarding handwashing and virus symptoms.
  • They have increased hygiene/handwashing practices for all clients and staff.

Stillpoint Mission has reduced open days for clients from two to one. (Fridays 9AM-11:30 AM) They provide food, diapers (baby & adult), hygiene items and financial assistance.  Due to their days-of-service reduction, they are doubling the number of items they distribute.

Women’s Resource Center has set up the framework to offer remote programming for their clients. These programs include: Resource Advising, Mental Health Counseling, Employment Coaching, and Ask an Attorney. For information and to make an appointment, please call 941-256-9721 or stay up to date on all programs through their website  

Healthy Start Manatee has taken the necessary steps to close offices to the public, transition staff and providers to working remotely from home. Intake Coordinators and Care Coordinators will still follow-up on screens and referrals and continue to work with clients via text, telephone and video conferencing until it is safe to begin conducting home visits again. Additionally, scheduled General Membership Meetings for April 3, May 1 and June 5 have been canceled and speakers will be rescheduled for a later date. 

Regarding the Manatee Community Baby Shower scheduled for May 9, in conjunction with partners at the Florida Department of Health in Manatee County, we have decided to postpone the event until later in the year.

Sarasota County

**New Updates**

Sarasota County

  • All Sarasota County public beaches and libraries remain closed. 
  • All Sarasota County playgrounds, tennis courts, pickleball courts, basketball courts, volleyball courts and dog parks within county parks have closed to public use.
  • Sarasota County libraries are closed through April 12.
  • Sarasota County schools are closed through April 15.

Previous Information

DOH Sarasota To Offer Drive-thru Specimen Collection For COVID-19. Visitors to the Sarasota County COVID-19 testing site must be referred by a physician to be tested. The physician's office will contact DOH Sarasota who will then contact the individual with an appointment day and time.The site will be open from 8 a.m. to noon, beginning Friday, March 27 2020. To make an appointment, call (941) 861-2883.

The site has been set up at Twin Lakes Park, located at 6700 Clark Road in Sarasota.

Please be reminded:

  • Individuals being tested must be in a vehicle. No walk-ups.
  • Remain in their vehicle at all times.
  • Present a photo ID and prescription for specimen collection, written by their health care provider. (Name on ID and prescription must match.) 

Sarasota County residents who believe they may have COVID-19 are asked to call the Sarasota County COVID-19 call center at (941) 861-2883 BEFORE visiting a hospital emergency room or health care provider.  For general information, call the DOH COVID-19 Hotline at (866) 779-6121 or visit .

Sarasota Memorial Behavioral Health Services

  • Visitation Restricted: Effective March 20, visitors are no longer allowed at Sarasota Memorial’s Bayside Center for Behavioral Health. To help protect our vulnerable patients and prevent the spread of infection, restricting visitors is a difficult but necessary step to further safeguard our patients’ health and safety. We encourage loved ones and patients to connect through phone calls. Our social service team and unit staff members are available to assist. All units have a phone that is accessible to our patients. Please call (941-917-7760) with any questions.
  • Infection control: Cleaning and infection control measures are in place at all times. However, patients and staff are now being monitored with screening protocols and temperatures taken each shift.
  • Baker Act Receiving Facility: Sarasota Memorial’s Bayside Center for Behavioral Health is fully operational as a Baker Act Receiving facility. All patients are screened at the Comprehensive Assessment Center (CAC) prior to entering the units.
  • Behavioral Outpatient Programs: The Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) and Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) is serving clients via telehealth using both telephone and virtual platforms. For more information, contact (941-917-2660) or fax referrals to (941-917-3269)
  • Behavioral Health Assessments Services: Individuals needing urgent behavioral health services may contact the Comprehensive Assessment Center (CAC) for assessment and referral services at (941-917-7760).
  • Hotline: SMH has launched a public coronavirus hotline (941-917-8799) offering local coronavirus information that is updated regularly.

United Way Suncoast is now accepting applications for our COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund, which provides emergency funding to agencies supporting individuals and families affected by COVID-19. We welcome applications from any eligible non-profit human services organization serving people in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Manatee, Sarasota, and DeSoto counties in the priority areas listed below, with an emphasis on the ALICE population.

Teen Court

  • Is utilizing tele-counseling, online tools, and visuals with continued communication from staff. 
  • They continue to serve the teens that were referred before the COVID-19 virus and provide support to the new referrals that come through local law enforcement agencies and parents. 
  • Students are doing essays, there are check-in times, scheduled phone calls and court sessions have been converted to virtual juries with verdicts being emailed. 
  • Case Managers will continue to communicate with clients and monitor the unexpected needs of families. 
  • Court Sessions, CAMP X-RAYD, Group Counseling (Risky Behaviors) are postponed. Mental Health Care providers are utilizing teletherapy. 

The Salvation Army Sarasota County 

Emergency Financial Assistance & Family Services at 1750 17th Street 

  • The Salvation Army's Emergency Financial Assistance services and Family Services at 1750 17th Street Building N is operating through the following methods: telephone, mail, email and fax. Please call 941-364-8845 to schedule a telephone appointment. Family Resident Services is taking applications for eligible families over the phone.

Center of Hope/Emergency Shelter at 1400 10th Street

  • Overnight Shelter/Emergency Shelter
    • Overnight shelter is operating, with heightened precautions and CDC recommendations.
    • Nightly community dinner is sack-style with neighbors' dinner being served outside on the back porch and yard area.
  • Thursday Open Lunch is canceled indefinitely.
  • Public Bathrooms outdoors/back porch area are open from 4:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.
  • Showers for overnight guests are available from 7:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.

Residential Programs

  • All Residential programs are operating with heightened precautions and CDC recommendations; no new intakes until further notice.
  • Meetings on campus are canceled
  • Center of Hope Sunday Services open to residential participants only and following CDC recommendations
  • Non-essential volunteers and mentors are asked not to come until further notice. 
  • Essential transportation only for Residential clients

Food Pantry

  • The Salvation Army Center of Hope 10th Street location does not operate a year-round food pantry open to the public. We have a food pantry that serves existing clients in need and in certain emergency situations. At this time of crisis and great need, we are stepping up as we are able, with limited capacity, to help people in need of food. We are accepting appointments for food pantry services from Tuesday through Friday, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.  Please call 941-954-4673 (HOPE) to schedule an appointment for pick-up. 

Updated CDC Procedures for Program Services at 10th and 17th Street Locations

  • For All Activities Involving Clients (classes, meetings, groups, church):
    • No more than 10 people total in a room, for one hour or less (10 people includes 9 clients and 1 teacher/facilitator)
    • 6 feet between each person
  • For All Meals:
    • 6 feet between each person
    • For indoor meals, clients will sit 6' apart
    • For outdoor meals, this is understandably a challenge. Staff have been trying different patterns and approaches to encourage social distance and will continue to do so.
  • Staff and Client Social Distancing:
    • Everyone must try their best to maintain 6' of social distance when meeting, in conversations and in passing
    • Encourage clients to space themselves out
    • If 6' cannot be achieved, in staff or client situations, do your best to achieve at least 3-4 feet of distance.
  • Overnight Sheltering:
    • Mats are placed 6' apart
    • Clients are configured in head to toe pattern
  • Residential Sheltering:
    • Ensure there is no more than 10 people in one dorm
    • Encourage spacing and head to toe configuration even in dorms when it makes sense
  • Screening:
    • Any staff or volunteer must conduct a self-screening before coming to campus by asking themselves the questions below. If the answer to any of these questions is yes, contact HR if you are staff and please stay home if you are a volunteer.
      • Do I have a fever? (equal to or greater than 100.4 degrees)
      • Do I have shortness of breath?
      • Am I coughing more than usual?
      • Am I over 60, immune-compromised or otherwise at risk for infection?
    • Residential clients are regularly screened, monitored and questioned by the staff
    • Overnight Clients are educated and screened as they enter 
    • Dinner clients are educated and screened as possible
  • Public Education:
    • We have been posting signage regularly and will continue to do so. Our most recent signage focuses on 6’ of social distance.
    • All staff, caseworkers, coordinators, roaming monitors, managers, etc., etc. are continually and consistently creating and communicating the expectation to other staff and clients.

Catholic Charities Diocese of Venice are focusing operations around three key areas including food distribution, financial assistance, and tele-mental health services. All other Catholic Charities programs (with the exception of early learning and after school programming) remain operational with communication limited to telephone and email. Please contact any one of the three region-specific numbers below for more details on programs and services. 

Until Further Notice:

  • Catholic Charities is restricting its offices to staff only. 
  • Persons in need will be assisted by phone only. 
  • They are asking all volunteers to refrain from coming to offices.
  • They are suspending shower services and clothing donations until further notice.
  • Food distribution will take place ONLY at pantry locations listed below on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9AM – 11:30AM. Persons in need will receive one pre-packaged bag or box of food items for their families.
    • Bethesda House – 1670 4th Street, Sarasota, FL
    • EKG Pantry – 4235 Michigan Avenue Link, Fort Myers, FL
    • Bonita Springs – 28360 Beaumont Road, Bonita Springs, FL
    • Judy Sullivan Center – 3174 Tamiami Trail East, Naples, FL
    • Guadalupe Social Services – 211 South 9th Street, Immokalee, FL
  • Financial Assistance – We are working to provide financial assistance for those in need. Financial assistance may include utility payments, prescription medication, or other critical needs.
  • Tele-Mental Health Counseling – will be available for existing clients on a limited basis using phone or videoconferencing. 

If you need assistance in any of these areas, please contact the number for your area below:

  • Sarasota/Manatee/DeSoto/Hardee/Highlands counties: 844-385-2407
  • Charlotte/Lee/Hendry/Glades counties: 844-385-2423
  • Collier County: 844-385-2404
  • Hours of Operation: 9 am – 5 pm, Monday – Friday

Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) temporarily closed all storefronts and lobbies.

Goodwill Manasota has closed the Job Connection offices until further notice.

Harvest House all services are still currently taking place. They are still operating the Harvest Food Pantry which distributes 16,000+ lbs of food to the community weekly - next distribution is planned for this Thursday from 10 am to 12 pm at 3650 17th Street, Sarasota, FL 34235. Food distribution will be executed drive-thru style. All life-skills classes are canceled until further notice‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

The Center Of Hope of South County/ The Center Of Hope Neighborhood Church is handing out food in the courtyard at 2395 Shamrock Rd., Venice, FL to those who have a need Tuesday through Friday 8 AM to 11 AM.  They are still assisting with Season of Sharing applications. The daycare is closed until school resumes. They will not be doing access point due to DCF closures

First Step of Sarasota programs are all operational. Beginning on Monday 3/23/2020 all of their outpatient offices will be closed to foot traffic. They will conduct all client visits and communications through either telehealth or telephonic contacts. Their doors will be locked and only staff members will be permitted in the offices with very few exceptions. Until further notice:

  • No new client assessments/intakes will occur face to face.  They are working on a solution to allow them to occur via telehealth and will inform all of you when they are ready to begin.  
  • All existing clients will be contacted via telephone to arrange for telehealth services.  DCF and AHCA have recognized that some of their clients do not have smartphones or PC’s/Tablets.  Both are allowing services to occur telephonically.
  • If a client is due for a treatment plan review, the service can occur via telehealth.  For the client signature, please write the following, “COVID-19 Client unavailable”
  • They will not be admitting any new Suboxone clients and existing Suboxone clients will be maintained using Telehealth. 


  • Current clients who are scheduled for injection medication visits will be seen in their office to ensure continuity.
  • All services are subject to change based on evolving circumstances.


Mobile Pantries Available Times/Dates

  • Booker Middle - Sarasota 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. March 23, 2020
  • Vet's Pantry -Sarasota 9:00 am to 11:00 am March 24, 2020
  • Friendship Baptist Church - SRQ 10:30 am to 11:30 am March 24, 2020
  • Nocatee Elementary - Arcadia 4:30 pm to 6:00 pm March 24, 2020

Laurel Civic Center 

  • Adult Programs – They are offering partial services by appointment only and will comply with social distancing and other safety recommendations during those appointments. Contact Ben Petro at 941-483-3338 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 
  • Food Distribution - On Wednesday, March 25, Laurel Civic and All Faith's Food Bank are partnering to make available 150 prepackaged food boxes for distribution on a first come/first serve basis. This will be a drive-thru process at Laurel Civic Association, located at 509 Collins Road Laurel, FL 34275 from 9:00am to 10:30am.
  • Youth Programs – Temporarily closed until further notice.


JFCS of the Suncoast has temporarily closed all locations in order to safeguard the public and employees from the spread of COVID-19. All JFCS employees are working remotely. 

  • The main number, 941-366-2224, is being answered Monday, Tuesday and Friday from 8:30am – 5:00pm; Wednesday and Thursday from 8:30am - 8:00pm. There are signs on all sites in both English and Spanish informing anyone who arrives to call 941-366-2224.  
  • JFCS is practicing physical separation, not social isolation. They are staying in contact with all their clients, but have temporarily eliminated all face-to-face contact.  
  • JFCS continues to monitor and respond to intake calls. 
  • Clients in Counseling Services are being served by Licensed Clinicians and Interns through telehealth. 
  • Case Managers and other support staff continue to communicate with clients via text, email, telephone, video chat, zoom etc. 
  • We have temporarily closed the following: Fruitville Main Campus & Flanzer Campus, Bradenton Office, Glasser/Schoenbaum (17th Street) office; North Port & Port Charlotte Offices.

The Healthy Start Coalition will have a staff person in the office every day during the week for Care Coordinators that need to bring Clients in from CenterPlace Health or anywhere else from 9am - 1pm.

First Step & Coastal Behavioral outpatient offices will transition the majority of their services to telehealth and temporarily be closing offices to anyone other than staff members (or individuals making deliveries of supplies or mail carriers). Beginning on Monday 3/23/2020 all of its outpatient offices will be closed to foot traffic. They will conduct all client visits and communications through either telehealth or telephonic contacts. Doors will be locked and only staff members will be permitted in the offices with very few exceptions.

All Faiths Food Bank is continuing to use its parking lot for its mobile food pantry.  AFFB has incorporated measures to safeguard the health of its staff, volunteers, and clients by going to a drive-thru style distribution.

General Updates

**New Updates**

DOH Vulnerable Populations

Previous Information

NAMI has now scheduled two weekly meetings for our Online NAMI Connection Recovery Support Group via. We will be hosting groups Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6-7:30. The access code to join the group is 202-455-533.

Children’s First has made a few resources available -  Tip Sheets for Youth:  Freaked About Finances Tip Sheet and Reemployment Assistance.  Guidance for Professionals who work with Transition Age Youth  COVID-19 Tips for Professionals.

Women’s Resource Center created a list or resources.

National Low Income Housing Coalition CARES Act Analysis

From DCF

  • Governor DeSantis directed DCF to waive work requirements for SNAP and TANF. 
  • The federal “Families First Coronavirus Response Act” allows states to suspend these work requirements.
  • Governor DeSantis directed DCF to work with the USDA to submit a plan to allow families whose children are eligible for free and reduced-price school lunch to receive SNAP benefits. 
  • The federal “Families First Coronavirus Response Act” encourages utilization of this proposal which will provide additional benefits to parents of more than 2.1 million children in Florida. 
  • Governor DeSantis directed DCF to pursue extending food, cash and Medicaid benefits for an extra two months for those families who are scheduled to recertify to ensure that health care, food and cash assistance benefits are provided without interruption. 
  • This will provide continuity for Florida families who are currently receiving SNAP, TANF or Medicaid benefits without requiring them to interact with the department during this public health emergency. 

Some Additional Resources for Reference  

National Health Care for the Homeless Council 

CDC "Get Your Home Ready" Detailed Planning Guidance

Florida Department of Education - Free Resources for Families and Teachers 

Reemployment Assistance 

COVID-19 Guidance for those with HIV/AIDS

Governor DeSantis Executive Orders

#2020-51 Executive Order re: Establishes Coronavirus Response Protocol and Directs Public Health Emergency
#2020-52 Executive Order re: Emergency Management – COVID-19 Public Health Emergency
#2020-68 Executive Order re: Emergency Management – COVID-19 regarding bars, beaches, and restaurants
#2020-69 Executive Order re: Emergency Management – COVID-19 – Local Government Public Meetings
#2020-70 Executive Order re: Emergency Management – COVID-19 – Broward and Palm Beach County Closures
#2020-71 Executive Order re: Emergency Management – COVID-19 – Alcohol Sales, Restaurants, and Gyms
#2020-72 Executive Order re: Emergency Management – COVID-19 – Non-essential Elective Medical Procedures
#2020-80 Executive Order re: Emergency Management – COVID-19 – Airport Screening and Isolation
#2020-82 Executive Order re: Emergency Management – COVID-19 – Isolation of Individuals Traveling to Florida
#2020-83 Executive Order re: Emergency Management – COVID-19 – Protective Measures for Vulnerable Populations, Gatherings of Private Citizens and Density of the Workforce

Governor Ron DeSantis activated the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program to support small businesses impacted by COVID-19. The bridge loan program, managed by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), provides short-term, interest-free loans to small businesses that experienced economic injury from COVID-19. The application period is open and runs through May 8, 2020. Interested businesses should visit for more information.

HUD will not be enacting evictions for the next 60 days for single-family homes with FHA insured mortgages. This does not include any other HUD properties.

For updated information please go directly to the CDC, HUD or the local Health Department sites. 

United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH): COVID-19 Resources

SNAPS COVID-19 Infectious Disease Prevention & Response

National Health Care for the Homeless (HCH) Council: COVID-19 Resources

World Health Organization (WHO): COVID-19 Advice for the Public

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): COVID-19 & Homeless Shelters Guidance

National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH): Coronavirus and Homelessness

GovTech: A Resource Guide to Coronavirus for Government Leaders

National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH): COVID-19 Resources

National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV): COVID-19 Resources

National League of Cities (NLC): Resources for Local Leaders

National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE): COVID-19 Resources

Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security: COVID-19 Resources

U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA): COVID-19 Resources

Homelessness & the Response to Emerging Infections Disease Outbreaks: Lessons from SARS

National Governors Association: Steps states have taken to address Coronavirus

Statement from Rosemarie Fisher, Chairperson of the HOPE Family Services Board of Directors

 BRADENTON, FL (February 19, 2020) -- HOPE Family Services, Manatee County’s certified
domestic violence service provider, offers domestic violence victims and their families
protection, advocacy, and resources. HOPE serves nearly 2,000 adults & children each year
through outreach programs, counseling, voice- and text message-based hotlines, and a 24-7
Emergency Safe Shelter. To deliver on its mission, HOPE Family Services receives pass-through
funding from federal and state sources by way of the Florida Coalition Against Domestic
Violence (FCADV). HOPE remains a completely independent stand-alone corporation governed
by a local Board of Directors committed to empowering survivors.

HOPE’s Board of Directors and staff including CEO Laurel Lynch fully support and are
cooperating with the State of Florida’s investigation of potential spending irregularities by the
FCADV. Annually, all Federal, State, and Manatee County supervisory organizations that award
grants to HOPE perform comprehensive monitoring and thorough audits of HOPE’s internal
control systems, financial statements, and all supporting documents. HOPE Family Services
consistently receives high marks for financial accountability and on behalf of the Board of
Directors, we are confident this investigation will prove HOPE’s commitment to transparency
and our quality services to the community’s most vulnerable.

View HOPE's most recent financial audit reports on GuideStar > 


HOPE Infographic v5 100119



February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

Throughout the month of February, HOPE Family Services (HOPE) invites the community to participate in Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month (TDVAM). Almost 1 in 10 teens report being physically abused by a boyfriend or girlfriend in the last year. Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month is a national effort to raise awareness, protect teens from violence, and promote programs to prevent it.

Everyone has the right to a safe and healthy relationship. However, 1 in 3 adolescents in the US is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional, or verbal abuse from a dating partner and two-thirds never tell anyone. Teen dating violence is a pattern of abusive behavior done by one dating partner to another. Abusive behaviors can include violent words, threats, or actions. 

Within the last 10 years, cell phones and the internet have become common tools used by abusers to stalk and harass in violent relationships. At a rapidly increasing rate, many teens in dating relationships have reported being controlled, threatened, and humiliated through the use of cell phones, social media, and the internet.

"Our goal is to get the community engaged in prevention and start a conversation about teen dating violence," says Laurel Lynch, CEO of HOPE Family Services. "We want everyone in the community to promote messages to help teach the differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships."

Participation from the community during TDVAM will help to spread awareness and work to stop dating abuse before it starts! Remember, love has many definitions, but abuse isn’t one of them. HOPE staff members have reached out to local middle and high schools to engage and educate students on the importance of Teen Dating Violence Awareness. 

During the month of February, participants are encouraged to engage others on social media using #TDVAM2020 and #HOPE4TDVAM. 

  • Feb. 9-15: Respect Week! This is a great time to learn about unhealthy behaviors. 
  • Feb. 11: Wear Orange Day! Please wear orange and share your picture on social media to increase awareness of TDVAM. Don’t forget to tag HOPE Family Services, too!

HOPE’S 2019 Holiday Recap 


During the holidays, we work hard to ensure a festive atmosphere for the families of HOPE. Throughout the 2019 holiday season, the community was invited to participate in several projects to impact the lives of survivors and their families to take important steps towards healing during what can often be a difficult time of year. We were fortunate enough to have an outpouring of support from our community for our 2019 campaign.

Our holiday projects included: 

Embrace-A-Family 2019: 193 individuals in total (48 families | 145 children) 

The Embrace -A-Family project invited families, neighbors, and co-workers to come together to embrace HOPE families by purchasing specific items from a survivor’s wish list. We’d like to give a special shout out to our friends at Peach’s Restaurants. They embraced 21 families, for a total of 97 individuals (21 adults and 76 children) - a record!

The Holiday Gift Shop 2019: 339 individuals in total (93 families | 246 children) 

Our Holiday Gift Shop gave participants a sense of excitement; each participant had the opportunity to shop for their little ones, free of charge. These gifts ensured survivors experience the joy of providing for their children and feeling safe and happy. The children in the shelter had the special opportunity of surprising their moms with a gift from our mom’s store.

Total Impact of 2019 Holiday Projects: 532 individuals! (141 families | 391 children)

We couldn’t share the news about the holiday without mentioning the wonderful Angels at Work, who donated their time, talent and gifts to ensure the Holiday Gift Shops were organized and well-stocked for participants.

On behalf of the survivors we serve, thank you for opening your hearts to support HOPE’s annual holiday projects. Every gift given helped the holidays become more joyful. Remember, together there is HOPE. 

Click the button below to check out a photo album of donations and thank you cards from our HOPE families! 


The Great Mates Support HOPE Family Services in 2020


Each year, The Great Mates, a nonprofit organization within the Bradenton Yacht Club, selects one local organization to support through their annual fundraising efforts. The Great Mates have raised and contributed more than $525,000 since 2002 to local Manatee County charities. This year, we are excited to announce they have selected to support our mission at HOPE Family Services! Matching funds up $25,000 provided through the generosity of the John J. Gorr Foundation (Alexandra St. Paul, Donor Advisor) of Manatee Community Foundation. We are grateful for the hard work and dedication the Great Mates have for helping the Manatee County community.


Join us for the Great Mates’ Annual Gala!

March 7, 2020 | Bradenton Yacht Club |  5:30pm

The theme “Island Hoppin’ to Kokomo” will feature the sounds, sights, and food of the Caribbean islands! Please support us by attending the event (individual tickets are $95 with $50 to charity), participating in the raffle for a week’s stay at a gorgeous Blue Ridge, GA cabin, donating items for the silent auction or sponsoring the Annual Gala.

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February HOPE Hero - Kimberly

meAbout our HOPE Hero: 
Kimberly is a Bradenton native and graduated from USF with a Bachelor's degree in psychology and social work. Her friends would describe her as very creative, loving, kind and funny. Growing up, she always had a passion for children and pursues that every day through her work as a Primary Prevention Advocate for youth in Manatee County. Kimberly’s role brings her into local schools, programs, and clubs to educate about Teen Dating Violence, the warning signs of domestic violence, and safety planning services available at HOPE. She also trains mental health professionals, nurses and dental students on how to identify and help a victim of intimate partner violence. If you see her at a community event, make sure to say hi!

HOPE Hero Q & A 

What have you learned while working at HOPE?

Working at HOPE has helped me to overcome my fear of public speaking and reminded me that I am exactly where I should be. I’ve also learned that going through difficult situations can teach you important lessons that allow you to better help others.

What motivates you to work with this organization? 

I find new people that motivate me on a daily basis. Whether it’s clients and coworkers in the office or the youth I engage with outside of the office, I am inspired simply by helping, encouraging, and educating them. 

What advice would you give to a future volunteer or employee?

My advice would be if you love what you do and if it comes from the heart then never stop pursuing it. 

Describe the most incredible view you’ve ever seen.

The most incredible view that I have ever seen is when I was on a plane as a little girl. I was on my way to Jamaica and I looked out of the window. I felt like I could see the whole world and that’s when I knew that the world is bigger than we know.

Describe yourself using only film titles.

Jumanji –  I am adventurous,  ready to take on new things and continue to work on my imperfections. Trolls – I want to save the world and make everything glitter again in people’s lives by encouraging them.  


We truly appreciate all of your hard work and dedication to our mission! 

Lakewood Ranch Women's Club Holidays on Broadway

LWRWC's Holidays on Broadway Raised Over $9,000 for HOPE and Other Local Charities

On Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019, about 130 people attended the Lakewood Ranch Women’s Club’s (LWRWC) spectacular “Holidays on Broadway “Dinner Theatre Charity Fundraiser at the beautiful Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club.

A fabulous silent auction with 41 tempting items and a Giving Tree contributed to the fundraising success. All proceeds will benefit the LWRWC ‘s adopted 501(c)(3) charities, HOPE Family Services, helping victims of domestic violence, SMART (Sarasota Manatee Association of Riding Therapy) dedicated to enhancing the physical, emotional, and cognitive growth of children and adults with special needs, and SOLVE Maternity Homes, helping pregnant women in need and their precious babies for over 40 years. Holidays on Broadway Charity Fundraiser truly represented the fun, friendship and community service that signifies the Lakewood Ranch Women’s Club and the wonderful LWR Community, because supporting charity and celebrating together is what great communities do! It takes a community to pull off an event of this magnitude and with the help of the Lakewood Ranch Business Community and individual sponsors and donors, Holidays on Broadway raised over $9,000 to help LWRWC's adopted charities with their most critical needs. All of the sponsors and donors are true “Holiday Angels” for helping to make wishes come true for those in need!

HOPE 2                    

"HOPE's Table at Holidays On Broadway," Photography by Allyson Sokol                        

Attendees enjoyed favorite holiday songs performed by the very talented Belle Canto Women’s Vocal Ensemble, a gourmet dinner, and music and dancing provided by JB Baxter from More than Music. The highlight of the evening was a fabulous musical show performed by Jeffery Kin, Artist Director of the incomparable Players Centre for Performing Arts and performers, Eliza Morehouse, Kay Siebold, and Nancy Creighton, who wowed the audience with their magnificent vocal and dancing talents. Jeffery charmed us with a lovely rendition of “We Need A Little Christmas” and Eliza ‘s gorgeous voice matched the title of the song she sang- “Astonishing” from the Broadway Show, Little Women. Kay and Nancy performed a wonderful crowd-pleasing tap dance routine to “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” followed by a group sing-along finale to the ever-popular classic -“White Christmas.”

LWRWC has over 320 members and is a not-for-profit service club founded to improve the quality of life in the LWR community. To learn more about LWRWC fundraising events and the charitable organizations they support, or to join, please visit

December HOPE Hero: Kathyrn

Kathryn - “Angels at Work” Coordinator

About our HOPE Hero: 

Kathryn began her career as a counselor at a battered women's shelter in Camden, NJ. She then went on to work in the field of alcohol and substance abuse. After retiring to Florida, Kathryn found HOPE. In 2003, Kathryn helped to start a service group in her community to assist HOPE, which is now known as “Angels at Work.”  They have continued to grow over the years and are now able to serve other local organizations as well. 

What have you learned while volunteering?

I’ve learned that we can all do amazing things if we come together. Our group, “Angels at Work”, all live in a 55 & older community in Ellenton and strive to make a difference in our corner of the world. We may not be able to change everything but we can change some things. Our group is dedicated to bringing light, hope and smiles to the faces of those who do not have much to smile about when their lives are in crisis. We believe that HOPE Family Services saves lives and we want to support that effort however we can. 

What motivates you to volunteer with this organization?

I love the feeling of doing something that makes a difference for others. Another motivation is the wonderful community that backs me up and the many residents, who believe in what we are doing. We are shedding a light on the issues of domestic violence and homelessness.

What advice would you give to a future volunteer?

Find what you love to do, find a group that has the same values and goals. Then get involved, you will be the better for it. You will grow in ways you can only imagine!

We truly appreciate all of your hard work and dedication to our mission! 

A Letter from our CEO, Laurel Lynch 💜

Thanks to your generosity more than 2,300 survivors received life-changing resources from HOPE Family Services (HOPE) this past year. With your help, these survivors and their children have been able to heal and live their lives without fear.

HOPE is more than just a shelter... It’s an empowerment-based organization with a variety of life-saving services all designed to keep people safe from their intimate partner. HOPE provides survivors of domestic violence with services ranging from a 24-hour helpline/chatline to children’s counseling and more. We help both adults and children move from a victim to survivor and ultimately, a thriver. Simply put, HOPE happens here.

This transformative experience is demonstrated in survivors like Claudia. She came into HOPE’s shelter when her former husband threatened to kill her and take their 2-year-old daughter. Thanks to donations from supporters like you, our staff was able to provide safety, counseling, food and welcome baskets upon entering HOPE’s shelter. One of HOPE’s attorneys assisted Claudia with securing an Injunction for Protection (restraining order) against her former husband. With the help of HOPE, Claudia and her daughter have now relocated to a neighboring county and feel much safer in their new location.

We’re here to thank you on Claudia’s behalf. We are so grateful to have supporters like you making success stories like these a possibility for domestic violence survivors.

Today, we embark on our Year-End Campaign. Our goal is to raise additional funds to keep our services free and confidential and to help more women and children like Claudia and her daughter.

We’re reaching out to you because you’ve already demonstrated your compassion for survivors. You have the power to ensure that every woman has the opportunity to be free from violence, stay safe, and live her dreams. Would you be willing to make a special year-end contribution to make a life-changing impact on a survivor’s story?

Please join us by making your gift on our website,, or by sending a check in the enclosed envelope.

Thank you for your continued support.

Best wishes,

Laurel Lynch, HOPE Family Services CEO

 P.S.  You can learn more about the amazing work made possible by your donations via our website, Facebook, and Instagram. 


$25 - Provides a welcome basket with linens and personal hygiene items for a shelter resident. 

$50 - Provides a monthly bus pass to help a survivor seeking employment and housing.

$100 - Provides safety planning and intake services for a woman in crisis.

$250 - Provides assistance from one of HOPE's lawyers to secure an Injunction for Protection.

$500 - Provides 3 meals a day to all shelter residents for one week.

$1000 - Provides trauma-informed counseling sessions for children.



November HOPE Hero: Katie

Katie - HOPE Board Secretary

About our HOPE Hero: 

Katie is a Manatee County native and loves raising her son and twin daughters here in Bradenton. She has served on HOPE’s Board of Directors for four years and currently holds the position of Board Secretary. Katie considers herself a “2nd generation” Board Member because her father was the Board President 20 years ago!

 What have you learned while volunteering?

HOPE has given me a new level of awareness about the impact of domestic violence. I knew the basics prior to volunteering, but HOPE has taught me even more about the unfortunate details of domestic violence in our own community. 

 Tell us about your most memorable accomplishment with this organization.

Besides our tremendous fundraising efforts, one of my fondest memories with HOPE is having the opportunity to help a friend who found herself as a victim of domestic violence. I was able to give her trusted advice on where she should go to get the help she needed. 

What advice would you give to a future volunteer?

Get involved!! No matter your background, or place in the community, you can make a DIFFERENCE. 

 Is there something that excites you so much it keeps you awake the night before? 

Definitely traveling - I love it! I used to travel a lot with my husband while he was with the Army and it always excites me to explore new places. 


We truly appreciate all of your hard work & dedication to our mission! 

Hops for HOPE 2019

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HOPE Partners With Good Liquid Brewing Co. To Promote Domestic Violence Awareness Month


HOPE Family Services (HOPE) in partnership with Good Liquid Brewing will host “Hops for HOPE” in an effort to recognize Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The event will take place at Good Liquid Brewing on Tuesday, October 22, 2019, from 5 pm - 9 pm. The night will include specialty craft beer, music, food, and more!

During “Hops for HOPE”, Good Liquid Brewing will offer an exclusive purple beer to support Domestic Violence Awareness Month. $1 from each pint sold will be donated to HOPE Family Services. Proceeds will support the life-changing services HOPE offers to those affected by domestic violence. The community is encouraged to show their support for victims and survivors during Domestic Violence Awareness Month by attending this event. 

“Events with community partners, like Good Liquid Brewing, are fun ways to bring attention to the issue of domestic violence and spread awareness of the services HOPE offers to our community,” said Laurel Lynch, CEO of HOPE Family Services. “Having community support is essential and allows us to continue to provide all of our services free of charge.”


October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM), which first began in 1981 by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence as a Day of Unity to connect battered women’s advocates across the country.

DVAM statistics from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence: 

  • On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.
  • 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience severe intimate partner violence. 
  • 1 in 15 children are exposed to intimate partner violence each year, and 90% of these children are eyewitnesses to this violence.
  • 72% of all murder-suicides involve an intimate partner.


October HOPE Hero: Rosemarie

October HOPE Hero

Rosemarie - HOPE Board President


About our HOPE Hero: 

Rosemarie has an inspiring heart for helping those affected by domestic violence. Prior to moving to Florida, she lived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and for 12 years served on the Board of Sojourner Truth House, the local domestic violence agency. Since 2003, Rosemarie has been dedicated to supporting the mission of HOPE Family Services; serving as a Board member for 16 years! She currently serves as Board President and is committed to sharing HOPE’s resources with the community. 


What have you learned while volunteering?

HOPE has an incredible staff that is dedicated to keeping the organization organized and running smoothly. Most people don’t know, HOPE’s programs for survivors and their children cover not only emergency action and long term care but also support prevention education for youth in the community.

Is there something that excites you so much it keeps you awake the night before?

Packers football!!! From February to July, I go into a mild slump waiting for football to start again. I also love having visitors; friends who come from out of state and stay for a week or more. I also love to have guests for dinner and try new recipes, even though it can be risky.

 What advice would you give to a future volunteer?

 Learn as much as you can about all of the programs HOPE offers. Share your passion for HOPE with friends and the people around you as often as you can. You never know when services may help someone who wasn't familiar with HOPE.



 What would your pet say about you if we asked for a reference?

 My dogs, Ditto and Toby, would say, “She's our mom, she loves us and takes good care of us.” Ditto would say that she doesn't like it when I jump on her. Toby would say that she makes sure I get my three pills a day at different times, but I remind her by barking anyway. We all love our neighbors and their canine friends too!


We truly appreciate all of your hard work and dedication to our mission! 

September HOPE Hero(es): HOPE's Administrative Staff


This month, we wanted to recognize our entire administrative staff: Char, Elsa, Kayla, Lynn, and Maria. Each of them are truly passionate about HOPE’s mission and are essential to HOPE’s day-to-day operations. They have answered a few questions to help you get to know them a little better.

Here’s a little background on their roles at HOPE: 

  • Char is our Chief Financial Officer and has been with us for 20 years! 
  • Elsa began working with us in our Donor Relations role but now heads Contract Compliance for HOPE.  
  • Kayla is our Development Manager. Her role is to coordinate our volunteer groups and donations, schedule and attend speaking engagements and events, and work with HOPE's marketing and social media team.
  • Lynn is an Executive Assistant at HOPE and is currently pursuing a business degree with a focus on leadership and management. 
  • Maria works as a receptionist at our Outreach Office. Her role handles scheduling appointments, receiving clients when they come in, taking calls and making everyone that comes and or calls feel safe. Maria is the calm reassuring voice for a caller trying to negotiate a storm in their lives. 


Q: What have you learned on the job? 💡

Char: While working at HOPE, I've come to realize that I will learn something new every day!

Elsa: I have learned to be grateful and appreciate all that I have and to listen and believe when a participant shares her/his experience. 

Kayla:  Survivors come first, that's why we are here. We need our community to bring awareness of domestic violence, support survivors and hold batterers accountable.

Lynn: I’m originally from Canada, so working for HOPE has given me an opportunity to learn quite a bit about the not-for-profit world on this side of the border.

Maria: I have learned many things! I’ve learned how to create a safety plan for a survivor and to be a good listener when someone is in crisis. 


Q: What’s your favorite pizza order? 🍕

Char: Thin crust with pepperoni and pineapple is definitely my favorite.

Elsa: It’s a tie between Chicken Alfredo and Pepperoni.

Kayla: Hmm...a Wood-Fired Margherita Pizza with fresh mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and maybe some arugula and a balsamic glaze drizzle.

Lynn: It would have to be Canadian bacon, red onion, jalapeno, and pineapple.

Maria: Pan pizza, pepperoni with jalapeños, yummy!


Q: What advice would you give to a future volunteer? 🙌

Char: HOPE is a great place to work (and volunteer) if you like to help people and maybe have a laugh along the way.

Elsa: If you are compassionate, can listen, and believe the participants with an open mind - you are in the right place.

Kayla: Be compassionate, patience, non-judgmental and expect the unexpected. When you learn the experiences of individuals you otherwise would have never met, and see how hard they’re working to rebuild their lives, you start to see people differently, in general.

Lynn: Get to know the people you’re working with, have a sense of humor and live the mission of non-violence, safety, and lending a hand. 

Maria: Be a good listener -  Let participants share their situation and remember that it's all about helping them to be safe. Also, if you don't know or are unsure of how to help them, always ask others in the organization for assistance.


Q: What would your pet say about you if we asked for a reference? 🐶

Char: My girls, CoCo and Chloe, would say I give the best belly rubs and I love to go for a W-A-L-K (which we only spell out in our house)!

Elsa: My beloved, Ziva, who is no longer with me, would say, "My Mommy is loving, giving, caring, and protective, and reprimands with kindness, when necessary."

Kayla: Lady would say, she always wears a smile and gives the best hugs, cuddles, scratches, and treats. She really likes the outdoors and going to the beach. (and that's my favorite because I often get to go with her).

Lynn: Simon would report, she's an efficient cookie distributor, highly talented in the tummy rub department, and completely lacks self-control when kissing my head.

Maria: Oh my, at this time I have kittens I'm nursing because their mommy passed away. I am feeding them and cuddling them and I think they will say, "Thank you for your patience and your time with all eight of us!"


Q: What motivates you to work with this organization? 💪

Char: I have the pleasure of working with a group of compassionate, hardworking women who never cease to amaze me in their ability to find ways to help.

Elsa: My passion and dedication to serving domestic violence survivors!

Kayla: What we’re doing here at HOPE is so essential to people’s lives and we're helping to create a healthier existence for everyone. Our awesome team of staff and volunteers is truly what motivates me to come to work every day.

Lynn: I’ve always been interested in social justice and women’s issues; HOPE’s method of empowering survivors is inspiring and should be adopted by more organizations serving others.

Maria: My motivation is knowing that I can help someone leave an abusive relationship, stay safe, and change a life. 

Bradenton Yacht Club Features Work for HOPE Family Services

The blog below is an excerpt from the Bradenton Yacht Club's Monthly member magazine, "Poop Deck". This article can be found on page 17. 


It’s finally time for our first Great Mates dinner meeting of the year. It will be held on Thursday, September 19th at 6 pm. Check the Poop Deck for reservation information or call the Club at 941-722- 5936. All BYC members are invited. If you have never been to a Great Mates meeting, please come. If you haven’t attended a meeting in while, please give us another try. We have a professional comedian, Juanita Lolita, to entertain us at the September meeting. It should be a lot of fun.

Hope Family Services is the charity chosen to be the recipient of our March 7, 2020 Gala. Hope is a private not-for-profit corporation whose primary purpose is to provide services to victims of domestic violence. We will have some information to share with you about the organization at the September meeting.

On July 11th, Mayor Wayne Poston was kind enough to join us at the Hope Chest Thrift Store on 1215 8th Avenue in downtown Bradenton to draw the names of the two winners of our Sail through Summer Giveaway to benefit Hope Family Services. One winner won a donated 12 ft. Sailboat and the other won 2 weeks of sailing lessons for a child at Bishop Sailing Center. Whether you have items to donate or want to shop to find some treasures, Hope Family Services will benefit from your generosity to The Hope Chest Thrift Store.

At our October 17th dinner meeting, Palmetto Mayor Shirley Bryant, as well as Brian Carter, President of Bishop Museum will speak to us. Mary Ann Gamrot has a lot of ideas for our entertainment, some of them still tentative. For our January 16th meeting she is thinking of WORLD TRAVELER NIGHT. We know that so many of you have stories about unusual travel experiences. Hopefully, you’d like to share your stories with us, whether they be funny, scary or exhilarating Mary Ann would love to have you get in touch with her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 

She would welcome any entertainment ideas you may have as well. So, bring your $1 to the September meeting to renew your membership for the upcoming year or to join the Great Mates for the year. Visit our website at for information. – Sharon Goslee 



Economic Empowerment Program

Economic Empowerment Program

Domestic Violence Isn't Always Physical...

When most people read or hear about domestic violence, their minds often think of physical abuse. However, domestic violence can include other forms of abuse such as emotional, sexual and financial abuse. As defined by the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence (FCADV), domestic violence is a pattern of behaviors, violence, or threats of violence that one person uses to establish power and control over an intimate partner.

According to the annual report to the legislature by FCADV, financial abuse occurs in 98% of all domestic violence cases. In the annual report, survivors stated that abusers utilized a multitude of economically-related tactics to gain and maintain power and control over them. Some tactics that an abuser can utilize to maintain power and control include:

  • Ruining their partner’s credit
  • Giving an allowance to their partner
  • Denying access to income or financial accounts
  • Making financial decisions without consulting their partner
  • Not paying child support so they can’t afford rent, food, and other needed items
  • Preventing their partner from working or demanding they quit their job
  • Stalking or harassing their partner at work

Experiencing financial abuse can prohibit a survivor from leaving an abusive relationship since they don’t have the financial security to move into a safe place. At HOPE Family Services, we have established the Economic Empowerment program where the participant can meet with an advocate to create a financial safety plan and work on achieving financial independence.

Our Economic Empowerment program can assist participants with developing a spending plan or budget, securing affordable housing, and achieve higher education such as a GED, certifications, or degrees. The program also helps with assistance in job search strategies, resume development, and job interview skills to help obtain employment. We work with our participants based upon what their goals are so that they can achieve economic stability.

For more information email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (941) 747-8499 


Handbags & Happy Hour 2019

Handbags & Happy Hour 2019

We’re counting down the days to Handbags & Happy Hour! Meet us at the Lakewood Ranch Golf & Country Club on Thursday, October 24, 2019, at 4:30 pm. 

HOPE Family Services (HOPE) and Women’s Resource Center (WRC) are excited to be collaborating once again to bring awareness of the life-changing services offered to women in our region. We loved the first-ever Handbags & Happy Hour event last year and are thrilled to bring it back for 2019. 

Join us for an evening full of fun & fashion – it’s women supporting women! You can expect delicious appetizers, a premium open bar, a wide variety of gorgeous designer handbags, jewelry and other raffle prizes. This event will also feature pop-up shops, a photo booth, music, and much more!

Invite your friends to a fabulous girls’ night out! Guests are encouraged to bring purses to donate to women who are working to change their lives at HOPE Family Services and the Women’s Resource Center. 

Every ticket to Handbags & Happy Hour helps to ensure women in our community have support to empower themselves and transform their lives. Thank you for your belief in HOPE & WRC!


If you have any questions or would like to learn more about sponsorship opportunities, please email Lynn Lavigne-Quinn at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by calling (941) 747-8499.

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Masala Giving Circle Grant

On May 15th, the Masala Giving Circle, a philanthropic organization of African-American women, held its Annual Grant Award Ceremony at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. Nearly $20,000 was provided to four organizations with missions to improve the quality of life for African-Americans in Manatee and Sarasota Counties. Since its founding, the Masala Giving Circle has awarded nearly $60,000 into the community.

HOPE Family Services (HOPE) was honored to be one of the organizations recognized by this amazing giving circle and thanks to their generosity, $2,500 was awarded to provide multicultural hair care products, education, and empowerment to victims and survivors of domestic violence who reside in HOPE’s Emergency Safe Shelter. HOPE’s goal is to provide hair care products to all survivors of domestic violence, including African Americans/Blacks, who reside at HOPE’s Emergency Safe Shelter. HOPE staff want to make sure all residents are provided with basic needs. Ensuring they have what they need helps them move forward to a healthy and independent life. 

With the Masala Giving Circle grant, HOPE staff are also able to provide empowering educational classes for Women of Color. Through the classes, staff teach residents how to minimize bullying of their children, which often happens when incorrect products and techniques are used. We have seen an increase in children’s and adults’ self-confidence by using new products, styles, and techniques. Being sensitive to the needs of all clients is important and thanks to the Masala Giving Circle, their needs are met.

“Masala Giving Circle exists to promote economic and personal empowerment in our community,” says Marilyn Thompson, the group’s president. “Since our inception, our giving philosophy has been to carry on traditions of support passed down through African ancestry and do our part to make the African-American communities stronger and more self-sustainable.”

We are so grateful to the wonderful women of the Masala Giving Circle for supporting women of color in our community and supporting HOPE’s mission


Pictured below are photos from the Masala Giving Circle Annual Grant Awardee Ceremony & products purchased with the grant awarded to HOPE. 

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Manatee Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Donation

Manatee Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Donates $710 to HOPE Family Services Emergency Safe Shelter

 HOPE donation Aug 2019

(Pictured from left to right are Barbara McCrea of MUUF, Elsa Hanna of HOPE, and Rev. Fred L Hammond of MUUF.)

Bradenton, FL, August 15, 2019. - The small congregation of Bradenton’s Manatee Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (MUUF) recently donated $710.00 for the Emergency Safe Shelter needs of HOPE Family Services in Bradenton.  The Special Collection was specifically designated to fund the needs of the Shelter which is one of the many services provided by HOPE to promote safety, strength, and well-being for those affected by domestic violence.

HOPE is Manatee County’s state-certified domestic violence service provider.  Elsa Hanna, a HOPE staff member, was present for the donation.  Bill Hayes, Special Collection Coordinator for MUUF, said: “Our Fellowship is committed to social justice and it is a pleasure to support you with this financial help.”

HOPE provides a safe place in a confidential location for victims of domestic violence.  The Shelter is designed to give victims time in a safe place, so they can evaluate their options and gain skills that empower them to live a life safe from an abusive partner.  Mothers and children arrive at the Shelter with few belongings – if any.  Mothers have urgent demands on what little money they may have and are unable to replace what they couldn’t bring with them.  There are always ongoing Shelter needs, that’s why the Special Collection was specifically designated to fund the needs of HOPE’s Emergency Safe Shelter.  To find out more about domestic violence and HOPE’s services visit their website at or contact HOPE’s Outreach Office at 941-747-8499.

MUUF is a friendly beacon for religious freedom, supporting lifelong spiritual growth and working for social justice with compassion and love.  For more information about MUUF call 941-746-0067 or visit the MUUF website at

August HOPE Hero

August HOPE Hero

Carol - HOPE Volunteer

About our HOPE Hero: Carol 1

Carol was born and raised in Pennsylvania. She found herself in Bradenton after retiring from her job, of 24 years at Universal Orlando. Carol began helping at HOPE during the Children’s Group sessions. She listened to music with the kids, played games, and helped with homework. Her role at HOPE now is working in the Outreach office, where she helps staff with reports for local, state, and federal agencies.


What have you learned while volunteering?

HOPE does amazing things for survivors and their families. I’ve learned that domestic violence is widespread and while there are many resources available to participants, there is a need for even more. 


What motivates you to volunteer with this organization?

I worked with a sister domestic violence agency in the Orlando area before moving to Bradenton and wanted to continue to give back.


What advice would you give to a future volunteer?

The biggest advice I can give is to be committed to the organization. It isn’t always easy to find the time, but you must be willing to give some of your time to helping others.


Tell us about your most memorable accomplishment with this organization.

One evening while I was helping with the Children’s Group, I was asked to help with a homework assignment. The student needed to invent a product and describe its use, using some words provided by the teacher. Extra credit would be given if they used words from another list. We selected a product, completed the outline, and the child finished the rest of the essay at home. The next time I saw the child, I asked what grade they received and they told me it was the first "A" they had ever received!


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We truly appreciate all of your hard work & dedication to our mission! 

July HOPE Hero

July HOPE Hero

Cheryl - HOPE Board Member

About our HOPE Hero: 

Cheryl is a Florida native and grew up in Brandon before making her way to Bradenton in 1981. Cheryl loves her job, but when she isn’t working as a Realtor with Michael Saunders & Company, she is volunteering as a Board Member for HOPE Family Services. She says hearing success stories from survivors always keeps her motivated to volunteer.                                                                                                                       

What have you learned while volunteering?

I've learned there is a tremendous need for HOPE to help victims of domestic violence. HOPE helps in so many ways such as: preparing safety plans, providing counseling, shelter, legal assistance and more.


Describe the most incredible view you’ve ever seen.

I've been lucky enough to travel to some pretty exotic locations. I can't pick one, so here are my top 3: the most amazing shades of blue waters in Tahiti, waterfalls in Hawaii, Cadillac Mountain/Acadia National Park in Maine.


What advice would you give to a future volunteer?

Find what moves you and help in any way you can; share HOPE's message when you have the opportunity. I have a friend and board member, Mindy Hill, to thank for introducing me to HOPE.

Tell us about your most memorable accomplishment with this organization.

I am very proud to represent HOPE within our Michael Saunders MSC Foundation and pleased to contribute through the foundation to help support the vital work HOPE does to save lives. It makes me so happy to help contribute to HOPE!

Describe yourself using only film titles.

Working Girl (I'm always working!)

Psycho (Some days...) 

As Good As It Gets (most days)

We truly appreciate all of your hard work and dedication to our mission! 

Sail Through Summer 2019

Bradenton Yacht Club’s Great Mates Host Giveaway Benefiting HOPE Family Services

The Great Mates, a 501(c)3 of the Bradenton Yacht Club (BYC) partnered with HOPE Family Services for their Sail Through Summer giveaway. The prizes for this giveaway were a 12-ft. Zuma sailboat and a two-week sailing camp session for a child, aged 8-13 at The Bishop Sailing Center at BYC (either July 15-26th or July 29-August 9th). 

Manatee County residents were able to enter for both giveaway prizes at HOPE Chest Thrift Store from June 10 - July 10, 2019. The HOPE Chest Thrift Store, located in downtown Bradenton, is open to the community and operated by HOPE Family Services to benefit survivors of domestic violence. One drawing entry was provided free per family visiting the store, but in exchange for a donated item from  HOPE’s “Wish List,” (such as non-perishable foods, diapers, toilet paper, formula, etc.) for HOPE’s safe shelter residents, the donor received five drawing entries. 

During the month of the “Sail Through Summer” giveaway, HOPE Chest saw an increase in donations as well as traffic to the store. There were over 100 entries to the “Sail Through Summer” giveaway, which directly will benefit the resources HOPE Family Services provides to survivors of domestic violence in Manatee County. 

On July 11, 2019, board members and staff from HOPE Family Services, members from The Great Mates, and the public joined together at HOPE Chest for the announcement of the 2019 Sail Through Summer winners. The giveaway drawing at HOPE Chest also included light refreshments, bites, and, of course, shopping. City of Bradenton Mayor, Wayne Poston attended the event and drew the two winning tickets. 

Congratulations to both Olivia Zapata, winning the Zuma Sailboat & Landon Sinphay, winning a two-week Sailing Camp at BYC’s  Bishop Sailing Center!


Pictured: Front, Left to Right: Detective Yolanda Cox, Gail Henderson, Mayor Wayne Poston, Mary Ann Gamrot, Beverly Beaucage, Mirinda Hill, HOPE Chest Manager Dawn Simpson. Rear, Left to Right: HOPE Family Services President & CEO Laurel Lynch, Sharon Goslee, Katie Williams.

Thank you to everyone that participated in the 2019 Sail Through Summer giveaway and a special thanks to The Great Mates for selecting HOPE Family Services as their annual charity. We are so excited for the year to come!

HOPE Hero - Dawn


June HOPE Hero: Dawn - HOPE Chest Manager  💜


About our HOPE Hero:                                     dawn2

Dawn is originally from Kalamazoo, Michigan. She has a long history working in the customer service industry; starting at the age of 10 pouring root beer at her family’s drive-in diner. She is the Manager at the HOPE Chest Thrift Store (HOPE Chest) which is open to the public and serves as a resource for survivors of domestic violence to receive items they need to be successful. Dawn describes HOPE Chest as, “A wonderful place to find awesome treasures, while supporting survivors of domestic violence.”

What motivates you to work with HOPE?

I’m one of the lucky ones and I truly can’t wait to get to work in the morning! Just knowing that what we do every day helps change lives for the better is the biggest motivating factor for me. Just think, together with donors and shoppers, we are making a difference in our community.

Describe the most incredible view you’ve ever seen.

Seeing Lake Michigan from 3,500 feet up while skydiving. It was amazing how quiet it was up there and just so beautiful. 

What advice would you give to a future volunteer?

Our motto at the HOPE Chest is, “We get serious about having fun.” So, my advice would be, have fun and always remember by volunteering for HOPE you are saving lives. It doesn’t get better than that!

Describe yourself using only film titles.

Let's see... Beaches, Airplane, and some days it can feel like One Flew Over the Cuckoo‘s Nest. But those are some of my most favorite days!

What have you learned on the job? 

I've learned to never judge a book by its cover, and just how far a healthy dose of patience, kindness, and respect can go. Another big one for me is how much I still have to learn and grow.


We truly appreciate all of your hard work and dedication to our mission!


Reasons You Should Be Thrifting

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Donating and shopping at HOPE Chest helps to support survivors of domestic violence.

However, there are many other reasons to thrift this summer!  

Here's our list of the top reasons why you should be thrifting: 

  1. Stretch your budget 

If you’re looking for a good reason to shop at thrift stores, look no further than your own wallet. It’s no secret that thrift stores, like HOPE Chest, sell items for a fraction of the full price for new items. The idea of frugal living isn’t just good for people with limited financial resources - everyone can benefit. Looking for bargains can help you save money to put toward a financial goal, splurge on that item you want, or pay your expenses. 

Many thrift stores go a step further and offer greater savings on certain days. At HOPE Chest, we offer specials on the first Thursday of every month, including everyone’s favorite, all items over $1 are 50% off. 

Caution: After shopping at a thrift store, you might not want to purchase anything at full retail price - again. Thrift store shopping will save you some serious cash!

  1. You can create your own style 

If you’re in the market for new summer looks and you head straight to a department store to pay full price, you’re bound to run into other people wearing the same outfits. Discovering a new look means finding your next staple piece. Thrift shops also have a diverse assortment of clothing, meaning you’re less likely to find yourself wearing the same top or as a friend or co-worker. Thrift shopping is a way to try a new look, trend, brand or style without sacrificing our savings account. 

After all, we’re all unique — shouldn’t our wardrobes reflect us? 

  1. It’s fun to treasure hunt

Just like auctions, yard sales, or flea markets, you never know what you’ll find at a thrift store. With donations coming in daily, there are always hidden treasures to find. Avid thrifters call it the thrill of the hunt and it can get competitive; searching through racks for your own personal treasure can be exciting, suspenseful, and addictive. 

Pro tip:  If you like it, hold onto it, because you may lose the opportunity to grab it later!

  1. Thrift stores help the community

Most thrift shops, like HOPE Chest, are run by charitable or non-profit organizations that use their retail platform to provide much-needed services to the community. At the time survivors need it most; participants of HOPE Family Services (HOPE) are able to shop free of charge at HOPE Chest, from socks to home furnishings. By shopping at HOPE Chest your proceeds help to pay for utilities and repairs at HOPE’s Emergency Safe Shelter. Whether you donate to HOPE Chest or shop at HOPE Chest you are saving lives and supporting survivors of domestic violence in Manatee County, FL. 

  1. There is SO much more than just clothes

Whether you’re looking for a handbag, kitchenware, clothing, or anything in between, thrift stores have it all. At most stores, you can find sections with kitchen appliances, artwork, toys, furniture, jewelry, shoes, books and much more. For many, thrift stores a go-to place for their sizeable furniture selections, including quality items and great discounts. HOPE Chest offers an array of items and even has rotating seasonal decorations in the Holiday Room! 

  1. It’s environmentally friendly 

Donating and buying from a thrift shop is an excellent way to reuse and recycle. The reuse of items such as clothes, electronics, furniture, etc. decreases the waste going to landfills and the number of new items that need to be created. Thrift shopping is also an eco-friendly alternative to fast fashion, which is the process of getting new and trendy items to consumers as quickly and cheaply as possible. Buying second-hand means you don’t have to sacrifice your style to be kind to Mother Earth. 

Lakewood Ranch Women’s Club Donates to HOPE’s Children’s Reading Library

On Wednesday, May 8, 2019, the Lakewood Ranch Women’s Club (LWRWC) hosted its annual Speakers Series Fundraiser Luncheon that raised over $2,000 and 825 books to benefit HOPE Family Services Children’s Reading Library, “The Book Nook.” The luncheon featured internationally acclaimed author, Lucetta Zaytoun.

The event was held at the LWR Golf & Country Club with more than 80 women in attendance, opened with beautiful music by gifted violinist, Margot Zarzycka, who plays with the Sarasota Orchestra. After a warm welcome from LWRWC President, Kathleen Cleveland, and Event Chairs: Cheryl Breining and Eileen Buzzard, HOPE Family Services CEO, Laurel Lynch, expressed her gratitude to LWRWC for the donation and for bringing the joy of reading to children and their mothers at HOPE’s Domestic Violence Shelter. Laurel explained that inspiring children to read will positively impact their futures. The original idea of the LWRWC was for mothers in the shelter to read to their children, but it is just as valuable (if not more so) for children to read to their mothers.

Keynote speaker, Lucetta Zaytoun, was deeply moved by the mission of HOPE Family Services because she is a courageous survivor of domestic violence. Lucetta shared her own horrific story of her escape with two toddlers from a physically abusive husband, with only two trash bags filled with clothing and toys. After finding the strength to overcome her trauma, she married a man with four children and became a devoted mother to all six kids. When the children were grown, she discovered that her husband was in love with another woman. Finding herself with no career, Lucetta turned tragedy into triumph with a remarkable global journey, backpacking through third world countries, and learning to overcome her fears and find her true identity. When she returned to the US, she became a certified life coach, a bestselling author and an international speaker.  Lucetta wrote a best-selling memoir of her incredible solo journey around the world entitled “It’s Already Tomorrow Here: Never Underestimate the Power of Running Away.” By conquering fear, Lucetta gained remarkable success in her personal and professional life.

The giving women of Lakewood Ranch Women’s Club consistently raise awareness and drive community support for organizations like HOPE Family Services. We cannot thank them enough for their donation of 825 books and $2,000 for HOPE's children's library in our shelter. The donation could not have come at a better time because they will help enhance our summer reading program, which helps children in our shelter overcome the summer learning slide, who are at an even higher risk of the summer slide. Our new Children’s “Book Nook” will help decrease the summer slide by providing the tools needed to achieve their academic goals. We are so grateful for HOPE Heroes like the Lakewood Ranch Women’s Club.

Below are some photos from the book drive fundraiser and the finished Book Nook in our safe shelter!

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Supporting a Friend with a Mental Health Issue

Are you worried someone close to you might be battling with their mental health? You’re not alone. In fact, 1 in 5 Americans live with a mental health condition, many undiagnosed.

Like any other health problem, someone with a mental health issue needs extra love and support.  You may not be able to physically see the issue, but it doesn’t mean that you’re powerless to help. If you are unsure of how best to approach someone who may be struggling, these tips may help.

How to know when to help

It’s important to understand the warning signs that come with different mental health issues. Some signs that a friend or family member may need your help include: 

  • Suddenly they lack interest in hobbies and other interests they used to love
  • They are talking about taking their life or feeling hopeless
  • They are avoiding their close friends and family members
  • Feeling very sad or withdrawn for more than two weeks
  • They seem emotionally numb like they don’t feel anything anymore
  • They used to be healthy, but now they’re always saying they feel a bit sick or “off”
  • Not eating, throwing up or using laxatives to lose weight; significant weight loss or weight gain
  • Drastic changes in mood, behavior, personality or sleeping habits.
  • They seem to be anxious or overwhelmed about situations or objects in life that seem normal to you and to others
  • Repeated use of drugs or drinking heavily to cope
  • They have mentioned or seem to be hearing strange voices or having unsettling thoughts

What you can do to help

Start the conversation

Just a simple conversation can go a long way in helping your friend. Share your observations with your friend. Focus on being nonjudgmental, compassionate and understanding. Make sure to actively listen and use “I” (instead of “you”) comments to get the conversation started.


  • I've noticed that you haven't been acting like yourself lately. Do you want to talk about it?
  • I am someone who cares and wants to listen. What do you want me to know about how you are feeling?
  • I’ve noticed you’re [sleeping more, eating less, etc.]. Is everything okay?

Offer support

Keep in mind that your friend might not be ready to talk about what they’re going through or simply may not want your help right now. Be patient, understanding and provide them with hope. You can make sure they know they are not alone, it can be a comfort just to know that they have people that care.

 It’s also important to support their healthy behaviors. Strategies such as getting enough sleep, eating healthy, and exercising can be helpful when managing one’s mental health. Supporting your friend by eliminating or reducing alcohol or drug use is another great way to help him or her build healthy habits.

Be a friend

Being a friend means being there in easy times and more difficult times. If your friend is experiencing a mental health condition, this is a time when he or she needs you the most. Sometimes just talking about it might help your friend feel less alone and more understood.

 Here are some ways you can show you care:

  • Be a resource for them by giving them ideas on where they can go to get help.
  • Check-in with them regularly.
  • Learn more about mental health conditions.
  • Treat them with a non-judgemental attitude, empathy, and honesty.

Get Advice

Helping a friend with mental illness can be hard to handle by yourself. Don't hesitate to reach out to someone and talk about how you’re feeling as a friend/caregiver, especially  for advice to most effectively help your friend. Consider talking to a trusted individual in your life like a family member, counselor, teacher, faith leader, or friend.

 You can be the difference in helping a friend who needs support but is too afraid to seek help.  It could save his or her life!

Self-care Practices For All Areas of Your Life

Self-care Practices For All Areas of Your Life

Some weeks, you may feel on top the world… but others may feel never-ending. Life is full of factors that are out of your control, and that stress can actually affect your health. Stress can drain your energy, increase anxiety, cause headaches, weight gain, and lack of concentration.

Practicing self-care on a regular basis will help you to handle all of the challenges and uncertainties life can bring. Self-care simply means taking care of yourself in all areas of life: emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually, and socially. There is no prescribed formula that works perfectly for everyone. Craft your self-practice to suit what works best for you, so you will enjoy it.

Below are the areas of life everyone should incorporate in their self-care practice:

        1. Physical Self-Care

This aspect of self-care is the most straight forward and focuses on making sure that your body is well-nourished and happy. When you are consciously caring for your body, you will think and feel better. The three basic aspects of physical self-care are good nutrition, proper recovery time (sleep and rest), and exercise. Begin with practices that are fun and rewarding to you.

Small steps such as eating more of the greens you love, drinking more water, and being active will make an impact on your well-being. (Remember to find the balance and rest when your body needs it too.)

       2. Mental Self-Care

Constant thoughts running around in your head can drain you. Mental self-care includes activities that declutter your mind and reduce your stress levels. These activities look different for everyone. Fuel your mind by learning about a subject that fascinates you, and reading books or watching movies that inspire you.

Some easy ways to relax each day include yoga, doing a craft, unplugging from technology, decluttering your home, or going for a walk.

     3. Social Self-Care

Life gets busy and it can feel impossible to make time to nurture relationships with friends or family. Social self-care is identifying your social needs and maintaining close connections in your life. There isn't a certain number of hours you should devote to your friends or work on your relationships. Everyone has slightly different social needs. Build enough time in your schedule to create an optimal social life for your well-being.

     4. Spiritual Self-Care

In this case, spiritual self-care doesn’t refer to religion or believing in a sort of higher being (although if that is what helps you - great!). Instead, in this sense, spiritual self-care is the act of getting in touch with your values—what really matters to you. This practice will help you cope with stress and foster a calm mind.  

Spiritual self-care activities include cleaning your spaces, joining a community that shares your values, meditating, going for a walk, or volunteering for causes you care about. It’s up to you to engage in whatever form of makes you feel best!

     5. Emotional Self-Care

Emotional self-care doesn’t mean that you never have negative or uncomfortable emotions, like anger, anxiety, and sadness. It’s the practice of identifying and accepting all of your feelings in a healthy way. Allow yourself to process what you are going through.

Include activities that help you acknowledge and express your feelings on a regular basis. For example, writing down how you are feeling can help you feel more fully present and not confined to those feelings from the past.

Identify the ways you can incorporate these practices to develop your personal self-care practice. If you take a few moments each day to care for your wellbeing, then you will be rewarded with a positive outlook and decreased stress.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month or SAAM for short. During this month, champions of domestic violence prevention across the United States raise awareness about sexual violence, how to prevent it, and how to support those who are affected by it.  Each year the National Sexual Violence Resource Center selects a campaign theme. This year’s campaign theme, I Ask, supports the message that asking for consent is a healthy, normal, and a necessary part of everyday interactions.

 What is Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault includes any sexual behavior that is against the will of another person (often through manipulation, force or coercion). Types of sexual assault include rape, sexual battery, child sexual abuse, incest, and same-sex assault.

Did You Know?

  • Every 2 minutes someone in the USA is sexually assaulted. And every 9 minutes, that victim is a child.
  • Each year there are about 293,000 victims of sexual assault.
  • 1 in 5 women will be sexually assaulted while at college.
  • 42% of college women who are raped tell no one about the assault.
  • 1 in every 4 girls and 1 in every 6 boys will be sexually assaulted before their 18th birthday.

 What can I do?

Educating yourself and others, helping a friend who is being abused, speaking up, and being an engaged bystander are all examples of things you can do to help.

  • If a survivor shares their story with you, help them feel comfortable by being an active and supportive listener. It is important that they feel heard and believed.
  • Spread awareness through social media and educate those around you.
  • Learn more about laws and policies impacting survivors and prevention programming.
  • Participate in Denim Day - April 24th. Denim Day began after a 1998 Italian Supreme Court decision that overturned a rape conviction because the victim wore tight jeans. In a statement by the Chief Judge, he argued, “because the victim wore very, very tight jeans, she had to help him remove them, and by removing the jeans it was no longer rape but consensual sex.” Denim Day has grown into a national movement to raise awareness of rape and sexual assault.

Where can I go to get help?  

Always call the police in the event of an emergency. Domestic violence shelters, like HOPE’s Emergency Safe shelter,  accept rape and sexual assault victims who need a place to stay as space permits. HOPE Family Services also provides free group and individual counseling to those affected. Colleges and universities also offer resources and completely free counseling. Be sure to know where and how they work and what services they provide.

Another local agency, Centerstone, is a great resource and specifically works with sexual assault and trauma services. At the national level, RAINN and Take Back the Night are the two biggest organizations devoted to victim advocacy and sexual assault and rape prevention and care.

The National Sexual Assault Hotline is available by phone (800.656.HOPE) and online ( Talk with someone who is trained to help anytime, 24/7.

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