Tell us a little about yourself and how you became involved with Place of Hope.
I grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio and worked as a management consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers before meeting my husband and moving to Boca Raton over 20 years ago. After volunteering at my church and my children’s school for many years, I began looking for a place to serve the community more broadly. Initially I struggled to find an impactful, well-run charity whose mission I felt drawn to support. Additionally, I was overwhelmed trying to sort through options, considering there are nearly 5,000 non-profits in Palm Beach County alone. I was first attracted to Place of Hope because of their local and national reputation as a leader in providing services to foster children and aged out foster children. Then, upon taking a tour and meeting the staff, I was stunned by their top-notch facilities and programs and by how they so evidently loved and cared for the children living there.
You were recently awarded the Jay DiPietro Hero of Hope Award from Place of Hope. Tell us about the award and what it means to you to win this honor.
The Hero of Hope Award is given to an individual or corporation that has shown leadership and philanthropy in our community and specifically has helped further the mission of Place of Hope. I am deeply humbled to receive the award and honored to work alongside the many remarkable people involved with Place of Hope. Place of Hope is truly an excellent organization that attracts extraordinary volunteers, and it is an absolute joy to work alongside them as we serve the youth in our community.
You are an Angel Mom for Place of Hope. What does that entail?
Angel Moms are ambassadors for Place of Hope and advocates for the children and young adults that live there. Angel Moms serve in a wide variety of ways, all suited to their interests and talents. Some work directly with the youth as mentors, teach special skills, or lead enrichment activities. Others volunteer at the front desk, while still others serve on committees planning our annual Angel Moms brunch and other events. One of my favorite aspects of the Angel Mom program is that everyone with a heart for helping these youths can find a way to have a meaningful impact.
Why should people get involved with Place of Hope?
Place of Hope is an incredible organization that has all three critical “pillars” – (i) a worthy and high-impact mission, (ii) extremely talented leadership, and (iii) outstanding execution – all right here in our community. Place of Hope strives for excellence in all areas, and consistently earns national awards for its work. Every single time I take someone on a tour they say they’ve never seen anything like it. The facilities are first-rate, the staff is remarkable, and the entire campus permeates with an amazing hope. All of this is the direct result of a committed team of staff and volunteers working together to support the youth with everything they need to successfully transition to adulthood.
What has been your most rewarding experience so far with Place of Hope?
Place of Hope is endlessly rewarding because I’ve seen over and over that it truly is a place of hope. The kids in foster care are there because they have been abused and neglected by those that were supposed to care for them, and then often shuffled around by a system that was supposed to protect them. But when these kids arrive at Place of Hope they are surrounded by people genuinely rooting for their success who work tirelessly to help them achieve their goals.
When people learn that I work with foster kids, aged out foster kids, homeless youth and human trafficking victims I usually receive a response along the lines of “oh my, bless you, that’s so depressing”. The reality, however, is quite the opposite because together we have the opportunity to make a real difference in these lives. Further, Place of Hope does it all with such love and grace that volunteering there is actually incredibly uplifting and rewarding!