Valerie's House breaking ground on $3 million 'forever home' for grieving SWFL families
Valerie's House is about to get bigger.
The Southwest Florida nonprofit which is dedicated to providing grief counseling for children and their families will break ground Friday on a new 7,000-square-foot facility in Fort Myers.
The "forever home" will be built on land donated by the city of Fort Myers under a $1-a-year-for-99-years land lease at 3551 Shoemaker Lane off Veronica S. Shoemaker Boulevard.
The group has raised $2.5 million of the $3 million needed for its new home. Several room sponsorship opportunities remain available.
“This home will always be a place for grieving families to call their own,” said Angela Melvin, founder and CEO. “Regardless of what happens in the future, having this home means no child will ever have to grieve alone in our community."
Valerie's House has helped more than 2,000 children and their families since its founding in 2016. Melvin named it after her mother who was killed in a car accident in 1987.
An estimated one in seven children in Florida is predicted to lose a parent or sibling before the age of 25, according to the 2022 Childhood Bereavement Estimation Model.
Valerie’s House currently offers peer support groups and other activities at locations in Fort Myers, Naples, Punta Gorda, and Port Charlotte. Valerie's House is a United Way partner agency and is fully supported by community donations.
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The new home is designed as an Old-Florida-style structure, with special rooms like a volcano room which allows children to work out any anger or other emotions they have because of their loss.
The new facility will allow Valerie’s House to help more children and provide wrap-around services, such as individual grief counseling to help support families in need.
Lennar Homes is project manager for construction which is expected to be completed by mid-2023.
About Valerie’s House
Valerie’s House opened in January 2016 and has served more than 2,000 children and their families from Lee, Collier, Charlotte, and Hendry counties. The organization provides a safe, comfortable place for children to share, grieve and heal together following the death of a close family member. Valerie’s House has three locations: 1762 Fowler St. in downtown Fort Myers, 819 Myrtle Terrace in Naples and group therapy meetings at several churches in Charlotte County. For more information, visit valerieshouse.org