FORT MYERS, Fla. – June 26, 2023 – Valerie’s House, a nonprofit organization in Southwest Florida helping children grieve the loss of a loved one, has awarded $54,000 in college scholarships for graduating high school seniors who have come through and found support in the Valerie’s House grief support program..
It’s the second year that Valerie’s House has offered the scholarships of $1,000 to $2,500 per year for four years. Six local students were chosen based on an essay they each wrote about their personal grief story and how their loss shaped them as the person they are and the person they want to become.
The scholarship recipients are:
● Jason Bishop of Fort Myers, who graduated from Bishop Verot High School and plans to attend Florida Gulf Coast University;
● Jacob Jordan of Fort Myers, who graduated from North Fort Myers High School and plans to attend Florida Gulf Coast University;
● Kaitlyn McCormack of Naples, who graduated from Barron Collier High School and plans to attend Florida SouthWestern State College;
● Sam Mejia of Naples, who graduated from Lorenzo Walker Technical High School and plans to attend Florida Gulf Coast University;
● Bailey Spotz of Fort Myers, who graduated from Cape Coral High School and plans to attend Florida Gulf Coast University; and.
● Kendall Sulmasy of Naples, who graduated from The Village School in Naples and is undecided on which college to attend.
“We believe it is important to empower our youth to strive for big things and to know that loss doesn’t have to limit their dreams,” said Valerie’s House Founder and CEO Angela Melvin. “We are very grateful to our donors who have made this scholarship program possible.”
The scholarship funds may be used for classes, materials, or anything they need during the school year.
“The students are asked to check in with Valerie’s House each college semester and tell us something that they worked through that was challenging during the semester, and something great that they believe they might have accomplished, “ Melvin said.
To donate and help the Valerie’s House Scholarship Fund, visit www.valerieshouse.org/donate
Valerie’s House first opened its doors with 20 children and their caregivers on the evening of January 11, 2016 in a small house in downtown Fort Myers. Since then, the organization has grown to help more than 2,000 children and expanded into three locations across Southwest Florida, including one in Naples and Punta Gorda.
One in seven children in Florida is predicted to lose a parent or sibling before the age of 25, according to the 2021 Childhood Bereavement Estimation Model.
Valerie’s House provides a safe, comfortable place for children and their families to heal together following the death of someone they love. Valerie’s House offers support groups and other activities at a home on 1762 Fowler Street in Fort Myers and a home in Naples at 819 Myrtle Terrace. Valerie’s House also holds group meetings in Charlotte County. Valerie’s House is a United Way partner agency and is fully supported by community donations. More information can be found at www.valerieshouse.org.