STUART, Fla. – An enthusiastic and diverse group of more than 40 participants scattered across Martin County on a sunny Saturday as part of House of Hope’s first annual Hunt for Hope scavenger hunt presented by Crary Buchanan Attorneys at Law. On February 27, teams used House of Hope’s customized app to compete for unique prizes by completing various challenges and missions at local landmarks, businesses, and attractions in Stuart, Indiantown, Palm City, Hobe Sound, and Jensen Beach. The scavenger hunt was a clever new way for the organization to raise funds to support its critical programs.
Scavenger hunt challenges included problem-solving, performances, gathering items, taking videos or selfies, and other hilarious or thought-provoking tasks closely related to the House of Hope’s mission. Some of the group’s favorite tasks were performing a catwalk at the House of Hope Stuart Thrift Store in their best-thrifted outfit, packing food for distribution at House of Hope’s largest pantry in Stuart, making smoothies on the manpowered “smoothie bike” machine in the East Stuart Nutrition Garden, and learning about the history of the Golden Gate Center for Enrichment and the New Monrovia One-Room Schoolhouse. Children enjoyed showing off their best t-rex dinosaur impressions, having karaoke showdowns against their teammates, and reenacting scenes as National Geographic explorers.
“Hunt for Hope was designed to incorporate COVID-19 safety protocols while engaging participants in a fun, team-based scavenger hunt. We weren’t sure what to expect with Hunt for Hope being a brand-new event, but the feedback we received from participants was overwhelmingly positive,” said Rob Ranieri, Chief Executive Officer of House of Hope.
After teams completed the scavenger hunt, they went to Growing Hope Farm in Palm City for the outdoor after-party. In addition to the announcement of winners and prizes awarded, teams enjoyed delicious, boxed lunches from Jimmy’s BBQ Food Truck and received tours of the Growing Hope Farm to learn more about their nutrition initiatives.
The grand prize, valued at $4,700, was awarded to Team Nozzle Nolen, including Glenda Vander Wilt, Mark Davis, Shaun Jones, and Kevin Eaton and featured gift certificates for hotel stays, fine dining, and fun experiences like axe throwing and trampoline parks. Second-place prize, valued at $2,400, was awarded to the Super Scavengers including Sue and Tom Whittington, Brigite Babine, Kelly McIntyre, Farrah Taylor, and Lexington Taylor.
Team ESP including Elaine Matts, Sonita Farr, and Pattie Dunn, was awarded a Hunt for Hope medal for being the top fundraiser team, raising approximately $4,250.
Team Safari Madness, including Debbie Lovequist, Lorraine Cardarelli, Melanie Scanlon, and Darlene Kane won for best team theme.
More than fifty sponsors and in-kind donors supported the inaugural event for which House of Hope is grateful. Lead sponsor: Crary Buchanan Attorneys at Law. Other sponsors include: HBKS Wealth Advisors; Cleveland Clinic Martin Health; Pinder’s Nursery; and Nozzle Nolen. In-kind sponsors include: Anthony’s Apparel; Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza; April Daze Boutique; Balanced Body Works; Barre Necessities; Bella Bella Skin Care Pros; Berry Fresh Café; Black Marlin Restaurant; Carson’s Tavern; Children’s Museum of the Treasure Coast; Conchy Joe’s & Dolphin Bar; Diamonds by Terry Tea Room & Bistro; Dolphin Bar & Shrimp House; Dr. Breslauer of South Florida Orthopedics; Evelyn & Arthur’s; Florida Oceanographic Society; Game of Axes; Giuseppe’s Restaurant; Golf Gear; Gumbo Limbo Coastal Chic & Coastal Kids; Hard Exercise Works; Inn Shepard’s Park Bed & Breakfast; Jan’s Place; Jensen Beach Inn; Kilwins; Kyle G’s; Luna Italian Cuisine; Matilda’s; Miles Grant Country Club; Monarch Country Club; Monkee’s of Stuart; Must Boutique; Old Colorado Inn; Painting With A Twist; Piper’s Landing; Play Money; Quill & Press; River Palm Cottages & Fish Camp; RUSH Jensen Beach; Sailors Return; Salon Alchemy; Sam Matthews House; Seminole Inn; Shrimpers Grill & Raw Bar; Skin Serenity Spa; South Florida Shooting Club; Spritz City Bistro; Stuart Ceramics; Summer Crush Winery; Tootsies; Top Drawer Boutique; Transitions Float Studio; Urban Air; and YMCA of the Treasure Coast.
About House of Hope
Founded in 1984, House of Hope is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers Martin County residents to overcome hunger and hardship. House of Hope touches the lives of more than 7,000 people each month helping with basic needs such as food, clothing, furniture, financial assistance, as well as longer-term case management services that help build life skills for a more self-sufficient future. The organization has service centers and thrift stores in Stuart, Hobe Sound, Indiantown, and Jensen Beach. House of Hope’s Golden Gate Center for Enrichment in Stuart offers free programs, technology, and workshops designed to enhance life skills, earning potential, health, and overall well-being. House of Hope also operates the Growing Hope Farm in Palm City and several nutrition gardens that provide sustainable sources of fresh produce for clients as well as nutrition education and vocational opportunities to the community. For more information, visit hohmartin.org or call 772-286-4673. Updates and announcements can also be found on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Hohmartin, Instagram https://www.instagram.com/houseofhopemc/, and Twitter https://twitter.com/hohmartin.
Publix Super Markets Charities has awarded $5,000 to House of Hope in support of the agency’s healthy food initiative, which includes the Elisabeth Lahti Nutrition Center, Growing Hope Production Farm and four Client Choice Pantries. The generous contribution helps provide healthier food choices and the opportunity for a more nutritious lifestyle for thousands of Martin County residents served by House of Hope’s pantries. The Nutrition Center prepares fresh salads and sandwiches made available daily to clients, and processes, packages and freezes excess produce and meats in order to provide protein-rich food year-round. Tens of thousands of pounds of locally grown fresh produce grown at the agency’s Growing Hope Farm in Palm City or gleaned (picked and donated) from area farms are also processed in the Nutrition Center and distributed throughout the pantries. There is never a cost to anyone seeking food or other assistance from House of Hope.
This important grant awarded by Publix Super Markets Charities will help cover the expenses for the Elisabeth Lahti Nutrition Center, Growing Hope Farm, and Client Choice Pantries, including the purchase of packaging supplies, pantry food acquisitions, House of Hope's food distribution truck’s maintenance, and more. House of Hope CEO Rob Ranieri remarks, "Publix continues to make a difference in the lives of the families that House of Hope reaches. This grant from Publix Super Markets Charities is that much more valuable as we respond to an increased demand due to the pandemic. Publix maintains a caring corporate culture and is always willing to support us as we work to empower Martin County residents to overcome hunger and hardship."
Support for House of Hope’s healthy food and nutrition initiatives helps to provide access to healthy foods in under-served communities in an effort to reduce chronic disease in the populations most affected by them. By easing food insecurity and ensuring House of Hope clients have nutritious food on their tables, the Client Choice pantries may improve health, reduce health care costs, reduce the number of missed days from work and school, and improve the overall wellness of our community.
MARTIN COUNTY- House of Hope has always embraced change by recognizing opportunities and evolving to incorporate new ways to help empower thousands of local residents to overcome hunger and hardship each month. Most recently, by exponentially growing the number and scale of food partners, utilizing generous donations efficiently, and tackling the ambitious realm of producing farm-fresh food – House of Hope’s model has grown to position itself as a reliable food bank to fellow agencies. This shift has been in the making for months, however, the COVID-19 Pandemic created the pressing need to hit the ground running in order to meet the drastic increase in assistance being sought after. The agency jumped from serving 5,500 local residents monthly to averaging a staggering 7,000 per month through four House of Hope food pantries as well as thousands more via partnering agencies.
Traditionally, area charities had a struggle procuring the needed pantry staples and supplies to serve those in need usually resorting to purchasing these items. This expense being a significant chunk of budgets limited the resources available to fund other programs offered by those organizations. House of Hope’s substantial food distribution to partners exponentially increases the variety, quality and quantity of food items available and they are shared with House of Hope’s program partners at no cost. This not only improves the offerings for each of these various feeding programs, it frees up funding for these agencies to offer more robust and impactful additional services to the Martin County households they help. Approximately 7000,000 lbs of food have already been provided by House of Hope to area organizations during the COVID response.
Partners such as Farm Share, Restoration Bridge International, Publix, CROS Ministries have helped provide thousands of pounds of fresh food, much of it direct from growers across the Southeastern U.S. Dairy and eggs, for example, used to be next to impossible to procure and now House of Hope has such a steady supply that not only do the agency’s four Martin County pantries offer it often, program partners such as LAHIA, First United Methodist's Manna Kitchen, Safespace, and the Boys and Girls Club of Martin County have been able to access the previously impossible inventory.
House of Hope’s most unique game changers have been its new Growing Hope Farm and the Elisabeth Lahti Nutrition Center, both having exceeded the expectations set for these assets producing and preparing 8,000 units of nutritionally balanced meals and snacks each month. Hydroponically and aeroponically grown produce is harvested and prepared on the same day by staff and volunteers pairing with donated food items to create nutritionally balanced salads, sandwiches, meal kits and snacks to be distributed by House of Hope pantries and partner agencies. The initial goal of these programs was to improve the health and stability of families through nutrition, an initiative promoted as “Hope For Health.” The successes of these programs have helped that initiative to stretch far beyond House of Hope’s own pantry clientele now also impacting fellow agencies' recipients.
House of Hope Board Chairman, Hans VanDerlip shares, “House of Hope continues in its quest to serve the residents of Martin County to the best of our ability. In this time of unparalleled unpredictability, the staff and volunteers of House of Hope consistently go above and beyond. As the needs of our community change and evolve so will the manner in which we proudly and humbly serve.”
House of Hope has developed the following health and safety guidelines for our community related to coronavirus (COVID-19). As an organization focused on addressing the needs of our clients, especially during a crisis, we are committed to ensuring that our community is equipped to stay healthy during this rapidly evolving public health threat through different means like planning, messaging, supplies stocking, and additional cleaning.
In an effort to take every precaution and prioritize health and safety, House of Hope has put in place the following guidelines:
1. House of Hope employees and volunteers who are sick or living with sick individuals are required to stay home.
2. House of Hope’s locations are remaining open as normally scheduled at this time with the intent to continue offering services as usual. Some advocacy and volunteer appreciation events have been postponed. We encourage you to read any and all updates on our website, Facebook page, and emails as the situation develops.
3. If you have a medical condition that places you in a high-risk category (older adults or people who have a serious chronic medical condition like: Heart Disease, Diabetes, or Lung Disease), talk to your doctor before coming to House of Hope. Our staff will make every effort to be flexible in working with clients, partners, and/or volunteers in the high-risk categories by making alternate arrangements to provide services, meetings via phone or other necessary methods.
As always, the best thing we can do to prevent the spread of illness is:
1. Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds with soap and water.
2. Cover your sneezes and coughs with a tissue or cough into your elbow and then wash your hands.
3. Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
If you have any questions, concerns or feedback, please reach out to House of Hope by calling (772) 286-4673 or emailing Info@hohmartin.org.
FOR MORE INFO ON HOW HOUSE OF HOPE IS OPERATING AMID COVID-19 PROTOCOLS, VISIT https://www.hohmartin.org/covid
MARTIN COUNTY- As local need is expected to drastically increase by more than 50% - worse than post-natural disaster numbers, House of Hope is asking the public to get involved. Monetary donations, volunteers for food distribution procedures, and non-perishable food items are needed immediately to meet the rapidly increasing community needs. Daily operations have shifted to take unprecedented measures in order to implement precautions needed to protect volunteers, staff, and clients from exposure to COVID-19 risks while continuing to serve thousands of residents in need.
The local workforce is heavily tied to the restaurant and hospitality industries whose workers are now losing their jobs with no assurances of re-employment by any particular date. Any resident whose livelihood depends on tourism, dining out and recreational activities have already been drastically affected by the mandated closures and social distancing practices. Many of these workers have never received assistance from agencies such as House of Hope before and will need to learn where they may find help to combat food insecurity and possible eviction. Additionally, children home from school for the foreseeable future are no longer having free or reduced meals offered twice a day and many of these students will not have transportation nor the supervision to access daily feeding sites. Households arranging for alternative childcare options will experience new financial hardship and compromise for those still working. With more than 37,000 Martin County residents already living in food-insecure households, 40% of households regularly cannot afford a $400 decrease in their monthly income. The need for assistance by this population is expected to rise by 50-75%.
House of Hope CEO, Rob Ranieri, shares, “How cohesive the community can be in responding to this situation between the local government, nonprofit agencies, funders, our health department, the school district and the general public will dictate how our most vulnerable populations will fare. We’ve got to work together to prevent dramatic slides into homelessness; donations of food and financial support will be key.”
Along with the anticipated increase in demand for assistance comes the challenge of other resources decreasing drastically for the nonprofit. 80% of House of Hope volunteers are in the high-risk category for being susceptible to complications from COVID-19 and are no longer able to report for their normal shifts. Canceled and postponed fundraisers, slow business in the agency’s thrift stores and slower private donations have crippled the revenue available to House of Hope. With the highest urgency to procure food, hygiene items, pet food, diapers, and other supplies needed to offer crisis-support to thousands more Martin County residents now struggling, House of Hope has developed a comprehensive plan to utilize the public’s help in the most impactful ways possible.
For residents seeking to either give help or get help, House of Hope has been updating its website, social media channels, and newsletters to keep everyone informed as quickly as possible. With four service centers across Martin County now offering curbside prepackaged pantry distribution in Stuart, Hobe Sound, Indiantown, and Jensen Beach, those newly in need are encouraged to bring their photo ID and proof of residency in Martin County in order to receive emergency food service. For those seeking financial assistance, residents should call (772) 286-4673. For updated information about services and resources available, the public is invited to visit hohmartin.org/COVID before heading to the nearest service center.
MACY's JENSEN BEACH- Longtime supporter and two time Hope Award winners (Macy's and Geoff Leoberman, Jensen Beach store manager) generously provided House of Hope with over 300 garments to be distibuted via Project HOPE and partnering agency, 4C's. These formal fashions will be offered to Martin County clients in need for celebratory occasions that often pose financial burdens to households such as graduation, prom, homecoming, quincienas and weddings. Maintaining dignity has always been a hallmark of House of Hope's client choice pantries and this generous donation will help the agency supply local residents with a way to attend important milestones without taking on financial strains to participate.
“Macy’s is committed to giving back, sharing joy and being there for the community in times of need. This unprecedented time has brought challenges to many families in the communities Macy’s colleagues live and work, and Macy’s is proud to support House of Hope, an incredible organization whose impactful work plays a vital role in strengthening and enriching the local community and beyond,” said Geoff Lieberman, Macy’s Jensen Beach store manager.
During the last week of February, Girl Scouts will be delivering door hangers throughout Martin County to announce where they will be making the rounds collecting non perishable food donatoins on Saturday March 7. Recipients of the door hangers are urged to check their own pantries for items they'd like to contribute as well as to take advantage of BOGO sales in order to "Buy One Give One" for the food drive. Pet food items will also be accepted.
Unfortunately, the Girl Scouts will not be able to reach all of the homes in Martin County and ask that gated communities and/or condominiums set up their own collection bins leading up to March 7 for Girl Scouts to schedule convenient pick ups for so that those residents may also participate. Other places of business and/or houses of worship may contribute by coordinating directly with the Girl Scout Food Drive by contacting Deb Geiger at (772) 215-1677.
morning of Sept. 12. Community partners, businesses and private individuals were honored by House of Hope for their impactful contributions of passion, expertise, creativity and other resour
ces helpful to the agency’s mission to empower Martin County residents to overcome hunger and hardship.
The 20 awards presented this year recognized the philanthropy and community engagement demonstrated by those honored while also further telling the story of how critical collaborations have enabled House of Hope to extend its reach with enhanced services and opportunities for local residents. This year’s recipients included: All Saints Episcopal Church, Amanda Paxton of Stuart Macaroni Kid, Brian Bailey with Aequion Water Technology, Debby Stasevich, Dee Reiss, Fabio Vasconcellos, Geoff Lieberman with Macy’s Jensen Beach, Helping People Succeed, Impact Designs, Indiantown Chamber of Commerce, Johnson Honda of Stuart, Library Foundation of Martin County, Martin County Library System, Mi Cabaña Taco Truck, Robert & Patricia Ernest, The Chef’s Table, The District Table & Bar, Town of Jupiter Island, and Two Men & A Truck. >> READ MORE
On the chilly afternoon of Nov. 27, House of Hope and the City of Stuart proudly invited the community and several local notables to celebrate the official opening of the all-new East Stuart Community Garden located at 520 SE Florida Street in Stuart.
The newly cleared and fenced area features a series of raised garden beds and trellises which will function as part of House of Hope's Gardening to Grow Healthy Children and Families program focusing on increasing awareness of the health benefits of good nutrition and the basics of gardening. The program strives to change unhealthy eating habits and encourage a more active lifestyle through healthy cooking classes, demonstrations and gardening activities.
Through hands-on instruction, members of the community will participate in the planning, planting, maintenance and harvesting of the garden. While learning gardening basics, participants will also be educated about the health benefits of consuming more fresh fruits and vegetables, choosing healthy snacks, and the benefits of an active lifestyle. House of Hope currently operates the same model in both the Banner Lake and Golden Gate communities. <insert # of students/participants?>
The East Stuart Community Garden has been made possible through a collaborative effort between House of Hope, the City of Stuart, Children’s Services Council and several private donors.
For more information about House of Hope’s nutrition gardens, click here or contact the agricultural coordinator, Laura Lyman at (772) 286-4673 x 1018.
"We are proud of the fact that our supporters can trust House of Hope to be responsible stewards of every dollar and donation as we strive to empower Martin County residents to overcome hunger and hardship, ” House of Hope chairman of the board, Stephen Schramm, said. "We continuously strive to enhance our agency’s impact and Charity Navigator’s independent scrutiny has once again led to earning another four-star rating and stellar score."
Publix Super Markets Charities has awarded $7,500 to House of Hope in support of the agency’s Elisabeth Lahti Nutrition Center in Stuart. The generous contribution will be quintessential in providing healthier food choices and the opportunity for a more nutritious lifestyle for thousands of Martin County residents served by House of Hope’s four Client Choice pantries. In addition to preparing fresh salads and sandwiches made available daily to clients, the Nutrition Center also processes, packages and freezes excess produce and meats in order to provide protein-rich food year-round. Tens of thousands of pounds of locally grown fresh produce such as potatoes, peppers, and corn that are gleaned (picked and donated) from area farms are also processed in the Nutrition Center and distributed throughout the pantries. There is never a cost to anyone seeking food or other assistance from House of Hope.
This important grant awarded by Publix Super Market Charities will furnish the Elisabeth Lahti Nutrition Center with packaging supplies, commercial gleaning bins, pantry food acquisitions, House of Hope's food distribution truck’s maintenance, and more. House of Hope CEO Rob Ranieri remarks, "Publix continues to make a difference in the lives of the families that House of Hope reaches. This grant from Publix Super Markets Charities is the latest example of their caring corporate culture and their willingness to support us we work to empower Martin County residents to overcome hunger and hardship."
Support for House of Hope’s nutrition initiatives and Elisabeth Lahti Nutrition Center helps to provide access to healthy foods in under-served communities which is a cost-effective way to reduce chronic disease in the populations most affected by them. By easing food insecurity and ensuring House of Hope clients have nutritious food on their tables, the Client Choice pantries may improve health, reduce health care costs, reduce the number of missed days from work and school, and improve the overall wellness of our community.
Local agencies have partnered to bring the renowned “Bridges Out of Poverty” community support program to Martin County. This multifaceted model actively involves the public, law enforcement, social service agencies and their clients to participate in learning the effect that poverty has on the entire community and provide a better understanding of how to help people move out of poverty. Hosted by House of Hope and funded by the Martin County Community Foundation’s Francis Langford Fund, the Law Enforcement Training segment of the Bridges Out of Poverty program took place May 11 at the City of Stuart Police Department.
The law enforcement element of the training stems from Jodi Pfarr’s industry-standard book, Tactical Communication, which guides first responders to better utilize communication skills to control the scene, stay safe, and garner cooperation and respect with the people they encounter from all socio-economic backgrounds. The workshop is tailored to help first responders understand the driving forces in poverty in order to be more effective on each call and receive fewer complaints. Having local law enforcement eager to learn from this course is a critical component to the effectiveness of the program overall given their daily interaction with the community and various situations they are tasked with managing.
Staff from City of Stuart Police, Martin County Sheriff’s Office, and House of Hope participated in a daylong session facilitated by Gary Rudick. The 35-year veteran of law enforcement informs “This isn’t a hug-a-thug program, instead it serves to create better communication and understanding between police officers and members of the community. [This training] can help officers create a better perception and reputation which helps to build trust. Everything works better when everyone trusts and works together.”
City of Stuart Chief of Police, David Dyess states “The training will prove to be extremely helpful to the officers when working with the public. Communication is the key to every successful law enforcement officer, and the Bridges out of Poverty course certainly provides officers tools to enhance our skills with all citizens of the community.”
President and CEO of the Martin County Community Foundation, Elizabeth Barbella adds "Our local experts identified this investment as essential to enhancing the way organizations and first responders, including law enforcement, interact with and empower those who are struggling to overcome poverty and hunger to achieve stability and self-sufficiency. We salute House of Hope for taking a leadership role in guiding this game changing work for our community and applaud our local law enforcement community for embracing this valuable opportunity."
Other components of the Bridges Out of Poverty curriculum have been underway since early this year including a series of poverty simulations which invited the general public to participate. Local leaders and influencers who were in attendance consistently reported that the experience was enlightening and important as it has inspired a different outlook and concern for the community around them. House of Hope will soon be rolling out the client portion of the training, “Getting Ahead in a Just Gettin' By World” which is a facilitated program to help individuals build their own personal plan to get out of poverty and create sustainability. The objective is to provide an all-inclusive learning program that will benefit the individual and the community.
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