With an estimated 6,000 students in Martin County needing assistance in preparing for the upcoming school year, House of Hope is partnering with local businesses, organizations and residents for its annual “Tools for School” supply drive in order to fulfill the needs of as many students as possible.
The goal is to alleviate the financial strain of back to school costs for struggling families while ensuring local students are supplied for success from the very start of the new school year. House of Hope staff and volunteers will soon stuff back packs full of school supplies for hundreds of children as well as providing opportunities for fresh haircuts and vouchers for new shoes. To be eligible for students to receive a backpack Martin County families must be enrolled for Project HOPE services at any of the four House of Hope pantry locations: Stuart, Hobe Sound, Jensen Beach or Indiantown.
The school supply drive will occur from now until July 19, with distribution to the schools being scheduled before the start of classes August 12.
Items needed include: pocket folders, erasers, glue sticks, scissors, colored pencils, highlighters, flash drives, hand sanitizer, tissue, composition books, backpacks, markers, spiral notebooks, calculators, binders, pencils, pens, pencil cases, crayons and lined paper.
The 2019 Stamp Out Hunger food drive weighed in at over 70,000 pounds of food collected for Martin County residents in need — the equivalent of more than 60,000 meals. The nation's largest one-day food drive was conducted across the county Saturday, May 11 organized annually by the National Association of Letter Carriers. This year, donations collected in Martin County will stay in Martin County helping to restock House of Hope’s four Client Choice pantries and several partnering agencies including church pantries, feeding sites for the homeless, and local homebound senior feeding programs. The much-needed items such as canned vegetables, soup, tomato products, pasta, cereal, and more come just in time to combat summer hunger, the spike in need experienced by local residents who are experiencing seasonal unemployment or decreased hours as well as school lunch programs ending for the summer.
Local postal carriers generously signed on to participate by collecting thousands of donated bags of food from their routes while also delivering the mail. Hundreds of volunteers donated their time and muscle to help gather, transport, and sort the influx of donations from generous local residences. This years' volunteer force included efforts by the Stuart Police Department, United Way of Martin County's Leaders United, Martin County High School football team, Jensen Beach High School Chinese Club, First United Methodist, Jensen Beach Christian Church, Holy Redeemer, and many other local individuals and families.
House of Hope has many groups and individuals to thank in addition to the many volunteer teams starting with the National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 1690 and the thousands of local residents who put food by their mailboxes to contribute to the drive. The daylong event could not happen without support from community-minded sponsors including HBKS Wealth Advisors, Circular Recycling, Hooks Construction, Cafe Martier at Stuart Post Office Cafe, Martin County Fairgrounds, Crary Buchanan Attorneys at Law, and Brooklyn Joe’s Italian Restaurant.
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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.
House of Hope received a $4,000 grant from Westfield Insurance Foundation thanks to an ongoing collaboration with Stuart Insurance. Stuart Insurance’s own Margaret Kiess has been volunteering in House of Hope’s Client Choice pantry in Stuart for the past five years and her active participation serves as a conduit between the agencies. Paired with Stuart Insurance’s repeated holiday contributions to House of Hope, their ongoing support has been essential in Stuart Insurance’s grant nomination for House of Hope.
The grant is part of the Westfield Legacy of Caring program in which Westfield Trilogy agencies across the country were invited to nominate a local nonprofit focusing on family stability or safety. This funding will help Project HOPE address the issues of local poverty, hunger, homelessness and unemployment by providing individual case management services which establish personal goals to guide people toward self-sufficiency; provide nutritious food and nutrition education to increase healthy living habits; provide financial and other forms of assistance, and offer basic life and career skills training opportunities through House of Hope’s innovative job training program, offering motivated individuals marketable skills to earn a living wage. With a focus on the unemployed, those who work for low wages and exist paycheck to paycheck, support for Project HOPE will help to stabilize individuals and families while aiming to break the cycle of poverty.
“Westfield Insurance Legacy of Caring Fund and Stuart Insurance are extremely proud to provide ongoing support for House of Hope's mission to empower Martin County residents to overcome hunger and hardship,” states Cabot Lord, president at Stuart Insurance, Inc. “There is not another charitable organization that does a better job in our community of efficiently providing resources to those that are in need.”
House of Hope’s longtime Partner in Hope, Macy’s Jensen Beach reached a new milestone in giving through their annual Bag Hunger campaign. Macy’s supported House of Hope in three impactful ways: monetary contributions, non-perishable food donations and volunteerism.
“Macy’s Jensen Beach is proud to support House of Hope through our corporate giving initiatives, including our Bag Hunger campaign and Partners in Time volunteer days,” said Geoff Lieberman, vice president store manager of Macy’s Jensen Beach. “Together, with the help of our colleagues and customers, Macy’s is committed to alleviating hunger and making life shine brighter in our community.”
House of Hope’s landmark program, the Golden Gate Center for Enrichment, has published the summer schedule of expanded offerings now available to the community at no cost. The new summer programming aims to provide something for everyone with unique educational activities for families and individuals wishing to beat the heat while enhancing their education, earning potential, financial stability and/or goals for better health.
House of Hope CEO, Rob Ranieri, shares, “we continue to look for diverse and relevant programming to impact the community in improving the health and wellbeing of individuals and families. We are fortunate to have so many great partnerships sharing their resources at the Golden Gate Center for Enrichment.”
In operation for less than a year, The Center has provided over 1,200 episodes of service to more than 400 participants of all ages. In addition to the normal calendar of programs and services offered year-round such as the computer lab, library services, career coaching, health and nutrition programs and support groups, The Center is proud to add family activities for the summer such as:
· Book Club for Kids
· Free Movie Night series
· Hands-on “Gardening for Healthy Families” workshops
· 2018 Summer Reading Program
Seniors are invited to register for new classes including:
· Medicare Savings Program and Extra Help in Florida
· Preventing Falls
· Positive Thinking: When Life Gives You Lemons
· Battling the Aging Brain
Opportunities for teens and adults include:
· “Ask a Nurse” women’s health screenings and consultations
· “We Know Money” financial literacy workshops
· English for Speakers of Other Languages
· Various health screenings, immunizations and consultations
· Support groups such as smoking cessation, men’s LGBTQ, and sexual abuse survivors
Hundreds of volunteers donated their time on Saturday to help sort the influx of donations from local residences. Local postal carriers generously signed on to participate by collecting thousands of donated bags of food from their routes while also delivering the mail.
According to House of Hope CEO, Rob Ranieri, “The latest reports tell us that there are 17,704 Martin County residents living below the poverty line and an additional 19,600 that are “food insecure”. Every bag left for your postal carrier to pick up created a significant local impact by helping House of Hope to provide these individuals and families with adequate nutrition.”
House of Hope has many groups and individuals to thank, starting with the National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 1690 and the thousands of local residents who put food by their mailboxes to contribute to the drive. Two shifts of Stamp Out Hunger volunteers were stationed at the Palm City, Stuart and Stuart Annex, and Hobe Sound postal offices to load the collected food into trucks transported by volunteer drivers to the Martin County Fairgrounds. At the fairgrounds, hundreds of volunteers including the following groups sorted tons of donated non-perishables: Edgewater Property-Realty, Martin County High School Football Team, The Chinese Club from Jensen Beach High School, Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, United Way of Martin County’s Leaders United, and House of Hope volunteers.
In addition to the hard-working volunteers, the daylong event could not happen without support from community-minded sponsors including Circular Recycling, Hooks Construction, Waste Management, Cassidy’s Ice, Manero's Restaurant, Martin County Fairgrounds, Impact Designs, Crary Buchanan Attorneys at Law and Brooklyn Joe’s Italian Restaurant.
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.
The second annual Top Chef Martin County benefiting House of Hope turned up the heat April 14 with a packed audience of longtime supporters and many newcomers cheering on the feisty cooking competition while enjoying music and dancing, gourmet tasting stations, boutique shopping and highly coveted raffle prizes. Local amateur chefs Dina Roosth, Melissa Zolla, Dr. Brian Moriarty, Jennifer Stull-Wise and Tina Kraft spent weeks leading up to the event raising funds to support House of Hope’s mission to empower Martin County residents to overcome hunger and hardship. The overall score was determined by combining individual fundraising tallies with culinary scores. The expert judging panel comprised of Jason Stocks (chef/owner of District Table & Bar), Rachel Pias (chef/owner of Banyan 320) and Adam Fetterman (2017 Top Chef Martin County victor) determined the winners.
With her own take on “gamberi e grits” or Italian shrimp and grits, local artist Tina Kraft was named Top Chef Martin County Overall Winner. She also took home the honor of Best Dish for the highest individual points scored on her preparation. Fellow contender Dina Roosth was awarded the honors for Top Fundraiser, having raised over $10,000 for House of Hope’s mission. Each of the competitors submitted fabulous dishes resulting in very close scores across the board.
House of Hope thanks the following community-minded sponsors: Loving Chiropractic of Stuart, Andy and Lorraine Popky, Circular Recycling, Wallace Mazda, Jim & Elaine Matts, The Firefly Group, FPL, Deborah Lovequist, The Wong Family Foundation, Patricia Churchill, Gordon & Doner, Advanced Diagnostic Group and Whiticar Boatworks.
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It's a simulation, not a game. House of Hope, Martin County Community Foundation, and the United Way of Martin County are collaborating to host “Dare to Care: A Poverty Simulation” workshop Wednesday, April 25, 2018, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at the IRSC Chastain Campus in the Clare & Gladys Wolf Technology Center located at 2400 SE Salerno Road in Stuart.
Participants will be assigned an identity and typical circumstances of someone who is facing poverty in order to experience how dynamic and interwoven the common challenges are for local residents. The task is to obtain food, shelter, and other basic necessities by accessing various community resources during the course of four 15-minute "weeks." They will interact with volunteers posing as service providers such as agency workers, law enforcement, teachers, government entities, employers and more. This inclusive simulation will challenge perceptions and perspectives, inspiring new understanding and empathy for what so many fellow Martin County residents face.
The event is limited to 80 participants and space is filling up fast. Check-in begins at 8:30 a.m. and light refreshments will be served throughout the day. To register for the Dare to Care Poverty Simulation, CLICK HERE or call Lauren Mustelier at (772)286-4673 x 1004.
House of Hope is excited to invite Martin County students to participate in the first ever “Stamp Out Hunger Student Art Contest.” Student artists are asked to use their creativity and talent to help raise awareness about the National Association of Letter Carriers’ Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive and the issue of hunger facing our community.
All contestants will be invited to attend the Stamp Out Hunger Kick Off Party at House of Hope May 9th, 2018 where the art contest winners will be announced.
Three grand prize winners will receive a $100 Visa gift card, a t-shirt with their artwork, and a plaque of recognition. The three winning pieces will also have their artwork printed on limited edition t-shirts and other items that will be available to purchase and/or order.
When creating the artwork, contestants should consider elements such as:
More than 150 guests attended a private fundraiser thrown by Dr. Daniel and Marlena Husted in support of House of Hope’s nutrition garden programs at their grand waterfront home Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018. A clarinet foursome musically set the mood as the crowd gathered within the Husted’s extensive fountain-centered garden while they sipped libations from the Tito’s Vodka Martini bar. The weather was perfect, the venue exquisite, and the attendees were dressed to thrill.
Dr. Daniel Husted, a prominent orthopaedic surgeon based in Stuart, and his wife Marlena, appealed to their extensive connections within the medical community aiming to raise support for House of Hope’s rapidly growing nutrition initiatives. The program focuses on improving the community’s health via nutrition education, cooking and gardening skills, along with enhanced access to fresh produce via the agency’s four Client Choice pantries. Martin County has high levels of childhood obesity -- more than 30% -- and in certain economically challenged communities, that number is a high as 60%. With these same communities struggling with higher-than-normal rates for adult diabetes and other obesity-related illnesses, growing support from the local medical community provided a logical strategy.
House of Hope and 200 smiling guests celebrated the 19th Annual Hearts for Hope Luncheon Jan. 25 at Piper’s Landing Yacht and Country Club. The event’s new theme emphasized “Our Bountiful Community.” In the spirit of House of Hope’s flourishing nutrition gardens and health initiatives, the agency included several community minded growers and artisans as part of an organic green market to help showcase the variety of healthy resources in Martin County. The exclusive green market offered a variety of locally grown organic produce, fermented foods, hand crafted soaps and nutritious fruit spreads. Ground Floor Farm demonstrated how to create kimchi and Hani Honey took guests up close and personal with a working bee hive used to produce their popular local honey. Fresh produce from House of Hope’s aeroponic greenhouse and production garden was also featured.
Fictitious identities were assigned to 75 participants for the first ever Dare to Care Poverty Simulation held Jan. 17 at the Chastain Campus of Indian River State College. Notables from local government, law enforcement, education institutions, media, nonprofits and faith-based organizations played roles ranging from 7 year old impoverished children to 89 year old retirees struggling to make ends meet. Several private citizens and partner agency representatives added to the diverse group ensuring a wide variety of backgrounds and perceptions being brought to the table. The objective was to provide a unique learning experience for changing perceptions, inspiring empathy, and facilitating solution based thinking regarding local poverty issues.
Check back for information about our next Dare to Care: Poverty Simulation being hosted in April 2018.
We are now accepting sign-ups for gleaning volunteer opportunities! Gleaning is harvesting fresh produce remaining at the farm after a field has been professionally picked. This produce is often smaller or larger than what supermarkets consider “shelf-worthy” but it is still just as nutritious! Once harvested, the produce is distributed to our pantries instead of being plowed back into the soil. Volunteer today to help us keep nutritious fruits and vegetables available for our pantry clients.
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