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Valerie’s House seeking sponsors for November fundraiser

By MEGHAN BRADBURY - | Jul 5, 2024

Valerie’s House is seeking sponsorships for a special fundraiser to be held this November.

“The fundraiser is for all the families. We see families from all kinds of loss. It’s a celebration of how far we have come — and recognizing that we have a lot more work to be done in this community and we need the funding and the support from the region to continue to do this work, which is never ending,” said Valerie’s House CEO and Founder Angela Melvin Churchill.

The inaugural Sunset Soiree will be held at the new Family is Forever home, 3551 Valerie’s House Way in Fort Myers on Thursday, Nov. 21, complete with cocktails, dinner, surprises and stories of inspiration from children and families who have been impacted by the deaths of loved ones.

Much of the night will focus on memorializing a tribute to those lost too soon — whether from cancer, sudden heart attack, accident, or overdose.

“These children and families need Valerie’s House — without it they would be alone in their grief. To find the will and drive and coping skills to move forward after a sudden loss of a parent, brother, and sister — that is a lifelong battle,” Melvin Churchill said. “We have been in the community going on nine years. The house opening last year only elevated us even more to where more families know about us and finding out about us. We have the house and the property — we will continue to support what it takes to be healing inside of the home. That is an ongoing free service that we offer to families with therapists, family support counselors, mentors, family assistance funds, funeral expenses for families that need us after the loss.”

One in eight children will lose a parent or sibling, up from last year’s statistics of one in nine.

Jeff and Jacque Miloff are the event chairs and Dave and Cheryl Copham are serving as the honorary chairs.

Sponsorships for the event range from $2,500 to $25,000 and includes tickets, mentions on social media, publication printing and branding at the event. Individual tickets are $250. For more information, visit ValeriesHouse.org/events.

The title sponsor is Victory Lane Chevrolet. Melvin Churchill said the owner and operator, Jamie Layne, who lives in Cape Coral, sits on the board. Layne and her family have experienced loss and understand the impact of addiction, she said.

Valerie’s House is one of the top five grievance homes in the country, as they are growing so fast.

“In a way it can be overwhelming. We have more to do — never stop,” she said.

The inaugural event is a wonderful opportunity to share the property with the community, give tours, hear the impact that is being made there in the house each and every day and celebrate the first year in the house. The new Forever Home opened Nov. 30, 2023.

“It will be a time where we can share and celebrate and raise much-needed funds,” Melvin Churchill said.

Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed a $1 million request for Valerie’s House in his latest budget, which she said was not good.

“We were really surprised. It was all focused on families that lost loved ones to fentanyl. One third of our population of children lost someone impacted by drugs and addiction, so that money would have provided counseling, mentoring, family services and prevention,” she said of opioids addiction.

Prevention is part of their work, so a family member does not go down the same path.

“We are preventing families from going down a dark path — helping them heal,” Melvin Churchill said. “We are the root cause of so much that happens in the community for addiction and someone who lost a loved one that way. This crisis is like nothing we have ever seen before.”

More than 5,000 children and their families have been helped at Valerie’s House since its founding in 2016 by Melvin Churchill, whose mother, Valerie, was killed in a car accident in Fort Myers in 1987.

Valerie’s House offers peer support groups, as well as other activities at its Fort Myers, Naples, Punta Gorda, and Port Charlotte locations.