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April 2021: HOPE Hero

April HOPE Hero

Sonja - HOPE Volunteer

About 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! 


March 2021: HOPE Heroes

March HOPE Heroes

Dawn - HOPE Shelter Director & Kristina - HOPE Program Director


About 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.


About 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 is Women's History Month

Women's History Month is a celebration of women's contributions to history, culture, and society. It has been observed annually in the month of March in the United States since 1987. Join us this month as we highlight women who have taken a stand for the 1 in 4 women who will be victims of domestic violence in their lifetime. Each of these women have made an impact and advocated for survivors of domestic violence. 


Donna Edwards 


In 1993, Donna Edwards was selected as the first woman of color to head a national domestic violence organization as the National Network Director to End Domestic Violence.


Jacquelyn C. Campbell, Ph. D, RN, FAAN


Dr. Campbell created the Danger Assessment, which helps victims identify abuse in their relationship. Prior to the DA’s creation, there were several non-evidence-based, non-validated lists of warning signs of potential lethality in domestic violence situations.


"Del" Martin 


Dorothy Taliaferro "Del" Martin was known as a feminist and gay-rights activist. In 1976, she published the book Battered Wives, which exposed the hidden problem of domestic violence and was the first general introduction to the problem of abuse. This book includes excellent critical summaries of the legal and political status of battered wives and the extent to which their immediate predicament must be understood in broad political terms.


Ellen Pence, Ph. D.


Dr. Pence was an advocate and activist who co-founded the Duluth Model and developed the Power Control and the Equality Wheel. These models create a better understanding of what domestic violence is and how it looks in a relationship.

Read this article for more information

February 2021: HOPE Hero

February HOPE Hero

Kimberly - HOPE Primary Prevention Advocate

Kim W

About 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!