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HOPE Helps, Inc is a 501(c)3 designated
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Disney Gives $120K to Support Basic Needs for Local Children
Surprises Continue as “Shine On” Prize Patrols Give $1.2 Million Over 40 Days

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., April 19, 2011 – Several organizations that provide essentials such as food and shelter for local families in need got an unexpected boost in support from Walt Disney World Resort this morning.

As part of a 40-day celebration across Central Florida to shine a spotlight on organizations that improve the lives of children, Mickey Mouse made a surprise visit to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida to recognize and reward their efforts. The impromptu moment also set the stage for a special gift totaling $120,000 to benefit four local organizations that help the community’s most vulnerable families.


Recipients of Disney funding are:

  • Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida    $60,000
  • Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida   $50,000
  • New Beginnings                                                 $5,000
  • HOPE Foundation                                              $5,000

“We are so grateful to be one of the beneficiaries of Disney’s generosity,” said Dave Krepcho, president and CEO of Second Harvest of Central Florida. “We’ll focus this funding on helping our efforts to combat childhood hunger in Central Florida, which unfortunately is a huge problem. With Disney’s support, we are going to be able to provide hundreds of thousands of meals to kids in need.”

Between now and May 22, Disney will give more than $1.2 million in Disney Helping Kids Shine Grants throughout Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Lake and Polk counties. Additionally, prize patrols will recognize 15 students in the five-county area as Disney Dreamers and Doers Shining Stars for their outstanding character.

“As part of our 40th anniversary, Walt Disney World is celebrating its commitment to Central Florida by giving support to organizations and programs that make a positive impact on children in our community,” said Nancy Gidusko, director of Walt Disney World Community Relations. “It’s an exciting time for some very deserving organizations that educate, develop and care for local youth.”

Walt Disney World’s philanthropic focus is on helping families meet basic needs, youth development and education.

Disney Helping Kids Shine grant recipients demonstrate alignment with Disney’s goal of improving children’s lives by focusing on one or more of the following areas: connecting with adults, character development, constructive use of free time and compassion.

Follow the 40-day “Shine On” journey across Central Florida and track the total giving at, where prize patrol reports and pictures will be posted.

kidThe TV newsmagazine 60 Minutes aired a wrenching piece on poverty among America’s children — now reaching nearly 25 percent of the young population. And ground zero for the piece was Central Florida, land of massive home foreclosures, personal bankruptcies and stubbornly high unemployment. 

But what the piece didn’t say was how to help the kids who were interviewed — students who cried about going to bed hungry and feeling guilty for being another mouth for their parents to feed.

Blessedly, a lot of viewers have demanded to know a way to make a difference. The Sentinel’s TV critic, Hal Boedeker, has put together a list of school-based agencies that help the kids, but there are community resources devoted to aiding such families as well. Here are a few:

The HOPE Foundation — based in Oviedo, the charity has a Kids of HOPE feeding program that supplies eligible children with food during summer and holiday breaks, including the upcoming spring break. (To be eligible, the kids have to qualify for the free or reduced-price lunches at school.) The rest of the year, HOPE has a food pantry open three days a week and providing nonperishable food, produce, meat and fresh bread, all at no charge.

If you want to help, the nonprofit welcomes monetary donations, food (see list of items needed) and volunteers.

Christian HELP in Casselberry helped more than 11,000 families with food in Seminole, Orange and surrounding counties last year. The charity provides food, help with rent and utilities and extensive employment services to help adults find decent jobs.

You can donate by clicking here. During March and April, all contributions to Christian HELP will be matched by the national Feinstein Foundation.

Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida supplies groceries to more than 600 nonprofit organizations and food pantries in the region and also runs programs specifically for kids. Among them: the after-school Kids Cafe and the Hi-Five Kids Pack Program for weekends. You can donate, sign up to volunteer or get more information on holding your own food drive by clicking here.

The Community Food and Outreach Center in Orlando provides food to families and individuals in two ways. The Emergency Food Box program is designed to meet immediate needs and the Cost-Share Grocery Program provides qualifying families with low-cost food, hygiene and household products. The program subsidizes a family’s monthly grocery budget by 60 to 80 percent.

The charity welcomes donations and volunteers.

HOME — or Helping Others Make the Effort – is a Kissimmee-based charity that tries to rescue families from homelessness. Those motel-dwelling families shown by 60 Minutes subsisting alongside the highways to Disney World? Many of them get some help through HOME, although demand far outstrips supply in Osceola. Still, HOME helps people apply for food stamps and offers case management, life skills education, and — when funding is available — emergency motel vouchers, first month’s rent or money to stave off eviction.

You can donate or volunteer by clicking here.

The Osceola Council on Aging — despite the misleading name — actually helps all generations, including families with children age 5 and under. One program provides emergency assistance for utility bills; another helps with emergency food, shelter or medical care. The nonprofit welcomes donations and volunteers.

Finally, the Heart of Florida United Way has an Emergency Food and Shelter Program, which last year distributed more than $6 million in federal funds to alleviate hunger, homelessness and other urgent needs in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties. You can contribute to that program by clicking here.

magicyouthIt was hard to find a happier group of people Wednesday morning than the local nonprofit leaders invited to the new Amway Center — purportedly to honor their hard work in the community.

But since they all had applied to the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation for grants this year, most suspected there might be a little more to it.

As it turned out, there was a lot more to it. For the first time since 2002, the Magic gave out a total of $1 million in grants. And for the first time ever, Orlando’s NBA team gave individual grants of $100,000 apiece. Amid a lot of cheering, clapping, laughter and tears of joy, checks were handed out to the following charities:

  • The Adult Literacy League for its “Read to Me!” book club that helps pre-schoolers get a solid start on reading skills. $30,000.
  • The Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida for its after-school and summertime youth-development programs for disadvantaged kids. $50,000.
  • Boys Town of Central Florida for its emergency shelters and family-treatment homes that offer sanctuary to low-income children who are abused, neglected, abandoned or homeless. $50,000.
  • Coalition for the Homeless for its rapidly growing children’s services program, which offers meals, shelter, mental-health therapy, early-childhood education, tutoring and support for homeless kids. $42,000.
  • Conductive Education Center of Orlando for children with disabilities who need help with life skills and literacy. $30,000.
  • Crealde School of Art for its outreach program for at-risk minority youth. $28,000.
  • Education Foundation of Osceola County for its Bookmark Buddies program, providing  reading mentors and tutoring materials to third-graders who are reading below grade level. $20,000.
  • Elevate Orlando for its long-term mentoring and after-school adventure programs that develop leadership and teamwork skills in urban youth. $45,000.
  • Florida Hospital for Children for its “Healthy 100 Kids,” a pediatric wellness program to treat and prevent childhood obesity in uninsured children. $100,000.
  • Foundation for Orange County Public Schools for its “Read2Succeed” program, which provides one-on-one tutoring and mentors to second-graders who are struggling with their reading skills. $20,000.
  • Foundation for Seminole County Public Schools for its “Take Stock in Children” program that offers at-risk students scholarships, tutoring and mentors. $20,000.
  • Harbor House of Central Florida for its “Project Courage” effort to educate teens to recognize and prevent domestic violence. $100,000.
  • Hebni Nutrition Consultants for its “KYDS Take Charge!” program, a culturally appropriate nutrition-education program targeting African-American students at risk for childhood obesity. $35,000.
  • The Hope CommUnity Center for its “Strong Families — Strong Futures” program offering in-school and after-school mentoring, tutoring and leadership-development for middle- and high-school students. $100,000.
  • HOPE Foundation for the Homeless for its “Kids of HOPE” Summer Lunch program, which ensures that kids from impoverished families get a good, healthy lunch even when school programs are closed. $30,000.
  • Howard Phillips Center for Children and Familiesfor its “Teen Xpress” program, which provides free medical and mental-health care to low-income teens across Orange County, largely via a mobile medical unit. The grant will cover follow-up efforts for kids who are found to have more serious medical issues, such as asthma, diabetes and obesity-related high blood pressure. $100,000.
  • Jewish Family Services of Greater Orlandofor its family-stabilization program, which helps parents with serious financial problems learn how to manage their money, improve their employment skills and better deal with their spouses and children. $50,000.
  • Orlando Ballet for its program offering dance instruction, transportation and attire to low-income third-graders. $50,000.
  • Valencia Community College Foundation, which directs the “Take Stock in Children” program in Orange County. Like the Seminole County effort, the program provides at-risk kids with mentors and college scholarships if they keep up their grades and stay out of trouble. $100,000.

For Immediate Release:

HOPE receives Grant from
Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation

Oviedo, Florida - HOPE is honored to be a recipient of a Grant provided by the Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation, Winter Park, FL. "Being awarded this grant from the Foundation is extremely exciting because it greatly enhances our ability to serve more families and as a result, enables us to continue our mission" said Krissy Todd, Founder and CEO of HOPE. We will now be able to hire much needed staff, provide additional training for current staff, which in turn, allows us to better serve our clients", Todd said.

The Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation investment in HOPE's capacity building comes at a critical time.  The economy is poor, the need is overwhelming and HOPE is committed to meeting that need.  This funding will be a key factor in HOPE's ability to respond to meeting the needs of families in crisis in our community.

The grant is provided by the Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation, whose mission is "Creating innovative civic solutions, helping people help themselves."  The Foundation carries on the trust imparted to it by its namesake Mrs. Edyth Bush, a woman who dedicated her life to promoting philanthropy throughout the community.   Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation and HOPE  both focus on programs designed to help the disadvantaged in the Central Florida community, and HOPE looks forward to working hand-in-hand in this common goal.  For more information about Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation -

A critical component of HOPE's success is the productive work relationships we cultivate in our local community, including government, social services, business, and the faith community.

To this end, with the joint leadership of HOPE's Executive Director, Krissy Todd, Debra Groseclose, Director of Prevention at CBC of Seminole, and partners in government and local churches, the Pathways to Home collaborative was founded a little over 16 months ago.

Pathways to Home is a Seminole County Collaborative consisting of 16 partner agencies, supported by 50 additional agencies, with the express vision of solving the issue of housing in Seminole County. The approach is holistically based, coordinating services in an integrated manner in order to ensure that families who qualify for the program work with case managers and a network of personal support on their road to self sufficiency. All case managers receive solid and continuous support from the program's full-time program manager and case manager.


Currently, the collaborative assists 32 families with a unified case management approach called Family Team Conferencing, and the case load is spread among the 16 partner agencies.

HOPE is proud to announce that, along with our current client base, we are successfully helping two families as part of the collaborative. A very important qualifier for the program entails the family's willingness to become self-sufficient within a period of two years. Both of the families that we are currently helping have displayed not only this willingness, but are also taking the first steps on their journey out of crisis.

Richard and Angelica*, our very first Pathways clients. Richard is a military veteran who has served this wonderful country for over twenty years abroad. Due to the recession Richard lost his job, and he and his family had to move into a low-cost housing unit to make ends meet with the savings they had left. This serves as a reminder to us all that the line between crisis and self-sufficiency is a very fine one, and it may only take a single job loss or medical emergency to place us - me and you - in the very same position.

Throughout the entire crisis, Richard, husband and proud father of 3 children, never lost his commitment to serving others: he continued volunteering with the Homeless Speakers Bureau in order to raise the level of awareness regarding the issue of homelessness in Central Florida. We are proud to announce that, through the efforts of Pathways in securing a working relationship with the Florida Manufacturing Extension Program's MOST (Mobile Outreach Skills Training) program, Richard took part in an intensive two week manufacturing-based skills training program, and is currently working at a company in Sanford (after finishing the training, it took two weeks to place Richard with the company - truly phenomenal). HOPE is also working with Richard in order to secure needed medical and dental services for his family, as well as car repairs to ensure Richard's upward journey.

kitchen yard

Our second Pathways family is Tina and Jack*, a Mom and Dad with 2 Year old son Brian, and a baby due in July. Due to unsteady employment the family had no income, and they have been homeless and living in their van. The mother wasn't able to work due to high risk pregnancy, and housing opportunities were not available to them.

HOPE and Pathways have been working with this family for about 6 weeks, as part of a year-long program to help them become self-sufficient. "It is not a quick fix or band aid, says Christine Wright, Resource Coordinator at HOPE, it is about taking the family and working hand and hand with them and guiding them through this process." Like Richard, Jack also completed the "MOST" program which helped him to learn a new trade and secure a job through Pathways in his trade.

HOPE assisted Tina and Jack with emergency housing at a hotel until suitable affordable housing could be found, their stay at the hotel ended up being for three weeks. HOPE also helped them with food and gas so Jack could get to his job training and finally to his new job.

bath bed

"We've worked intricately with Tina and Jack to find a home that would be affordable and HOPE helped the family with the move in costs. It was quite emotional for everyone when we were able to move this family into their new home this past week, said Christine Wright. With assistance from HOPE and Pathways we are taking this family from homelessness to self sufficiency, and will guide them over the next year", she said.

HOPE is blessed with the support from our community to be able to help many families like this throughout the year. Through the Family Team Conferencing process, HOPE will be working with both of these families and many others as true partners with them in their journey to self sufficiency. In a time of uncertainty and limited resources, HOPE is committed to solving the issues facing our community in new and innovative ways.

If you would like to learn more about the Pathways to Home collaborative, please contact me at 407-668-5039 or at

A special message from our client Tina:
"without the Pathways program, my husband would still be unemployed and we'd still be living in our van. We are very grateful and thankful to receive the constant support from those at HOPE, especially Christine. We have received food, toiletries, items for our baby, financial assistance, and just knowing there is someone there to talk to has been so important and critical to our family in moving forward... thank you"