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Valerie’s House Announces $50,000 in

College Scholarships

FORT MYERS, Fla. – August 8, 2022 – Valerie’s House, a nonprofit organization in Southwest Florida helping children grieve the loss of a loved one, has awarded $50,000 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 first year that Valerie’s House has offered the scholarships of $2,500 per year for four years for a total of $10,000 per student. Five 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:

  • Alexis Dehetre of Fort Myers, who graduated from Mariner High School and plans to attend Florida Gulf Coast University;
  • Mackenzie Francois of Naples, who graduated from Gulf Coast High School and plans to attend Florida Gulf Coast University;
  • Taylor Gagnon of Fort Myers, who graduated from Bishop Verot High School and attends Nova Southeastern University;
  • Coral Morley of Naples, who graduated from Naples High School and plans to attend the University of Georgia; and
  • Allison Stenza of Naples, who graduated from Barron Collier High School and plans to attend Florida Atlantic University.

“This is the next step in the grieving process to help these young adults who have lost a loved one,” 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 to check in with us every semester and tell us something that they worked through that was challenging during the semester, how they worked through it or something great that they accomplished, “ said Staci VanSlambrouch, mentor and family support coordinator who is in charge of the scholarship program.

To donate and help the Valerie’s House Scholarship Fund, visit

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 at First United Methodist Church in Punta Gorda at 507 W. Marion Ave. and at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church at 2565 Tamiami Trail in Port Charlotte. Valerie’s House is a United Way partner agency and is fully supported by community donations.  More information can be found at

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