Supporters of Valerie’s House sipped cocktails, enjoyed fine dining and listened to the stories of children who had lost a parent or family member at Sunset Soiree, the signature event of the charity that helps grieving children.
A sold-out crowd of 475 people opened their hearts and their wallets at the event at the historic Shangri-La Springs in Bonita Springs Thursday, Oct. 11, and raised $205,000 through sponsorships, ticket sales, children’s artwork and both silent and live auctions. The annual event makes it possible for Valerie’s House to offer grief support free to all families.
“We are forever grateful for the support of our community and the love they have shown to Valerie’s House children who most need our comfort and compassion. By attending Sunset Soiree, our guests helped us fulfill our vision that no child will grieve alone,” said Valerie’s House Founder and CEO Angela Melvin. .
Valerie’s House has helped 350 children and their families since its founding in 2016 by Melvin, whose own mother was killed in a car accident in Fort Myers in 1987. The non-profit organization uses art and music to help children identify, express and process their grief.
The highlight of the evening was an emotional presentation of poetry and music performed by Valerie’s House teens with many attendees shedding a tear or two in response.
Florida Gulf Coast University President Dr. Michael Martin and his wife Jan were the honorary chairs of the event with ABC-7 Anchor Krista Fogelsong serving as mistress of ceremonies.
“Jan and I have both seen Valerie’s House in person and met with the children there and were touched by the work they do. There is nothing else like Valerie’s House in all of Southwest Florida,” Dr. Martin said.
Auction items included art created by the children of Valerie’s House as well as vacation packages, jewelry and dining experiences.
A unique heart pendant created by Brad and Colbi Congress of Bradley Jewelers received the highest bid of the night at $10,000 and can be special ordered and inscribed with a loved one’s name.
The Golisano Children’s Hospital was the presenting sponsor of the event. Other major sponsors included FineMark National Bank & Trust, Sanibel Captiva Bank and Enterprise Holdings.
For more information about Valerie’s House or to register a family for programs, visit www.valerieshouseswfl.org/contact-us/, call 239-204-5804, or write [email protected]. Valerie’s House is fully supported through community donations that can be made online at www.valerieshouseswfl.org or by mail to Valerie’s House, Inc., P.O. Box 1955, Fort Myers, FL 33902.