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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

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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.


HOPE bts thankyou

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!