Locals Vie for Honors at House of Hope’s 2022 Top Chef Competition

Six local people who love food, love to cook, and love the mission of House of Hope will compete on Monday, June 6, for bragging rights to be called the Top Chef of Martin County.

The fourth annual Top Chef competition will be held this year from 7 to 10 p.m. at The District Table and Bar in Stuart. Contenders will learn which protein they’ll be working with a week in advance, but what ingredients are on hand and what the “Special Surprise Ingredient” is for 2022 will be a secret until the competition begins. Some of the ingredients will come straight from House of Hope’s Growing Hope Farm.

During the event, 11 local restaurants will be serving small bites to attendees to stave off their hunger as they watch the chefs prepare their delicious dishes.

“This is a really fun and lively event,” said House of Hope Chief Executive Officer Rob Ranieri. “Our volunteer chefs, none of whom are actually professional chefs, always surprise and impress us with the dishes they prepare.”

The event also has a serious side. House of Hope is seeing an ever-increasing number of Martin County residents who are food insecure and need the services of the organization to feed their families. Funds raised from this fun, food event will go directly to feeding hungry neighbors.

The 2022 competitors are: Donna Forcella, Donna Jenson, Julian Maiucci, Pete Morello, Marybeth Peña, and Joe Tomasiello. Judges will award prizes to the Top Fundraiser and the Best Dish, with the Overall Winner prize going to the chef who excels in a combination of both categories.

Sponsorship support from the following people and organizations is appreciated: Colab Farms, Whiticar Boatworks, Coastal Drive Magazine, The Firefly Group, Florida Power and Light, HBKS Stephen Schramm, Elaine and Jim Matts, McCarthy Summers Law Firm, Rick Carroll Insurance, and the Wong Family Foundation.

Only 200 tickets are available, and tickets from the 2020 event are being honored, so space is limited. To purchase tickets, become a sponsor, or support a favorite chef, go to www.hohmartin.org.

About House of Hope

Founded in 1984, House of Hope is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers Martin County residents to overcome hunger and hardship. House of Hope touches the lives of more than 7,000 people each month helping with basic needs such as food, clothing, furniture, financial assistance, as well as longer-term case management services that help build life skills for a more self-sufficient future. The organization has service centers and thrift stores in Stuart, Hobe Sound, Indiantown, and Jensen Beach. House of Hope’s Golden Gate Center for Enrichment in Stuart offers free programs, technology, and workshops designed to enhance life skills, earning potential, health, and overall well-being. House of Hope also operates the Growing Hope Farm in Palm City and several nutrition gardens that provide sustainable sources of fresh produce for clients as well as nutrition education and vocational opportunities to the community. For more information, visit hohmartin.org or call 772-286-4673. Updates and announcements can also be found on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Hohmartin, Instagram https://www.instagram.com/houseofhopemc/, and Twitter https://twitter.com/hohmartin.


Healthy Habits Bloom

House of Hope’s Adina Topfer educates students at the House of Hope Traveling Nutrition Garden on Monday at Palm City Elementary School. “The children are really getting a lot out of it. It’s a great asset to the community and House of Hope is thrilled to be able to bring it to Martin County,” Topfer said. The Traveling Nutrition Garden gives Martin County students the opportunity to learn about how fruits and vegetables are grown, nutrition and healthy eating.

Brielle Budnick, 8, of Palm City, explores the House of Hope garden. 


House of Hope Welcomes Mike Meier as Growing Hope Farm Manager

Mike Meier, an active proponent of sustainable urban farming and an advocate for community service, joins House of Hope this month as Farm Manager at Growing Hope Farm.

Growing Hope Farm in Palm City is House of Hope’s innovative answer to providing fresh fruits and vegetables to individuals and families in need throughout Martin County. The farm features nearly 65,000 cubic feet of hydroponic greenhouse operations and raised beds for vegetables. The farm will soon add a small grove of fruit trees and berry bushes along with a packing house. 

“Our Growing Hope Farm is key to our mission to provide a complete spectrum of food and nutritional support to our clients,” said House of Hope CEO Rob Ranieri. “It’s become a big business, with more than 6,000 packages of produce distributed each month. It’s also an essential business as we work to improve the nutritional value of the food available to our neighbors who are trying to overcome hunger and hardship.”

Meier is currently a City Commissioner in Stuart, elected in 2018. He served as Mayor in 2020. A third-generation Stuart resident, he was formerly a tech company analytics director but returned to Stuart to pursue his dream of sustainable urban farming. With two partners he founded Ground Floor Farm, an urban farming operation in Stuart which specialized in growing fresh market crops. He has been the Director of Operations for Colab Farms, based in Indiantown.

“Mike is the ideal person for this position,” Ranieri said. “He has a head for the work and a heart for our mission. With Mike as manager, we expect to boost our productivity and connect with other growers in the region as our new packing house comes on line.”

For Meier, this new role fits perfectly with his philosophy for the future of farming. “I'm a firm believer in the importance of sustainable food systems and helping communities bridge the gap between farm and plate,” Meier said. “Growing Hope Farm is making a tremendous impact on the amount and quality of food available locally, and I’m proud to become a part of the effort.”

About House of Hope

Founded in 1984, House of Hope is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers Martin County residents to overcome hunger and hardship. House of Hope touches the lives of more than 7,000 people each month helping with basic needs such as food, clothing, furniture, financial assistance, as well as longer-term case management services that help build life skills for a more self-sufficient future. 

The organization has service centers and thrift stores in Stuart, Hobe Sound, Indiantown, and Jensen Beach. House of Hope’s Golden Gate Center for Enrichment in Stuart offers free programs, technology, and workshops designed to enhance life skills, earning potential, health, and overall well-being.

House of Hope also operates the Growing Hope Farm in Palm City and several nutrition gardens that provide sustainable sources of fresh produce for clients as well as nutrition education and vocational opportunities to the community. For more information, visit hohmartin.org or call 772-286-4673. Updates and announcements can also be found on Facebook, Instagram Instagram, and Twitter.


The 30th annual Treasure Coast Music Teachers Association Music-Thon was a major success

Courtesy of Cindy Kessler - Special to Treasure Coast Newspapers USA TODAY NETWORK – FLORIDA

JENSEN BEACH – Back in December, music filled the air when Treasure Coast Music Teachers Association presented its 30th Annual Music-Thon at the Treasure Coast Square in Jensen Beach. Shoppers, friends and families were entertained throughout the day by more than 175 young artists on stage at the entrance to Ma cy’s. Performances included piano, voice, violin, viola, cello, flute, Little Prodigy of Music Vocal Choir, Lighthouse Suzuki String Orchestra, and Redeemer Lutheran Chimers.

A donation of $6,000 from the proceeds of the Music-Thon was presented to House of Hope, a charitable organization serving the Treasure Coast for nearly 40 years. House of Hope touches the lives of about 7 ,000 people per month with services that include basic needs — food, clothing, furniture, financial assistance — and long-term case management, which helps people build life skills for a more self-sufficient future.

The agency has service centers and thrift stores in Stuart, Hobe Sound, Indiantown and Jensen Beach. Several nutrition gardens and the newly constructed Agricultural and Vocational Production Farm provide a sustainable source of fresh produce for clients, as well as nutrition education and vocational opportunities to the community.

House of Hope’s Golden Gate Center for Enrichment in Stuart offers free programs, technology, and workshops designed to enhance life skills, earning potential, health and overall well-being. To learn more about House of Hope, visit hohmartin.org


Hunt for Hope Scavenger Hunt benefit is set for Feb. 26

STUART – Neighbors will follow clues, gather serious or silly items, carry out fun tasks, take selfies or videos at sites all around Martin County, and in the end will support the important work of House of Hope.

The second annual Hunt for Hope event to be held Feb. 26 will include teams of two to five people who will get clues from an app at 10 a.m. sharp to begin the timed competition that ends at 1 p.m.

Participants are only allotted three hours to choose which activities appeal to them and accomplish those tasks.

Prizes will be awarded at an outdoor party beginning at 1 p.m. at House of Hope’s Growing Farm, 2484 SE Bonita St., in Palm City.

A grand prize and a second-place prize for the most points earned in the game, plus a prize for best team theme and most money raised through Hunt for Hope Crowdfunding.

Team registrations may be accessed online hohmartin.org/huntforhope. The team fee of $200 includes lunch. Each team must be able to fit in one vehicle, and team members are to be older than 11 years.

Younger children are welcome to tag along and join in the fun. Sponsorships for the event may be accepted online or at House of Hope.

House of Hope is a nonprofit organization that empowers Martin County residents to overcome hunger and hardship that touches the lives of more than 7,000 people each month helping with basic needs such as food, clothing, furniture, financial assistance, as well as longer-term case management services that help build life skills for a more self-sufficient future. The organization has service centers and thrift stores in Stuart, Hobe Sound, Indiantown, and Jensen Beach.

House of Hope’s Golden Gate Center for Enrichment in Stuart offers free programs, technology, and workshops designed to enhance life skills, earning potential, health, and overall well-being.

House of Hope also operates the Growing Hope Farm in Palm City and several nutrition gardens that provide sustainable sources of fresh produce for clients as well as nutrition education and vocational opportunities to the community.

“All of our participants last year said that this was one of the most entertaining fundraisers they’d ever been a part of,” said Rob Ranieri, CEO of House of Hope. “We welcome this chance to bring people together in a safe and fun way. The teams will get to know Martin County and also more about House of Hope and our mission to empower people to overcome hunger and hardship.”

For information, call 772-286-4673, or visit hohmartin.org.


House of Hope Unveils its Garden on Wheels, an Innovative New Way to Teach Good Nutrition

STUART, Fla. – House of Hope, a leader in innovative ways to feed the community and improve nutritional status, has a fun new way to teach both children and adults about good nutrition.

The Traveling Nutrition Education Garden will soon be making its way through neighborhoods throughout Martin County, bringing growing plants and useful information to schools, churches, neighborhood gatherings and special events.

The eye-catching garden on wheels is a collaboration between House of Hope and Cleveland Clinic Martin Health, with support from the Children’s Services Council of Martin County (CSC). “We can’t have a garden everywhere in the community, but our Traveling Nutrition Education Garden can go everywhere,” said House of Hope CEO Rob Ranieri. “It gives us a chance to bring our living plants and knowledgeable staff directly to people who need the information and make the lessons fun and practical.”

At the ribbon-cutting ceremony on November 17, Cleveland Clinic Martin Health CEO Rob Lord noted that this is the only mobile garden of its kind in the state of Florida and one of only a few in the country.

“We’re delighted to be a partner in this effort,” Lord said, “because we know all too well the direct correlation between health and nutrition. If nutrition improves, health improves, and fewer people have to be admitted for hospital care.”

The Children’s Services Council has been a partner in the effort from the very beginning, explained CSC Executive Director David Heaton during the unveiling ceremony.

“This is really a cutting-edge project that will help kids understand the value of high-quality food. The lessons will help them for a lifetime.”

A team from the engineering company UNew, led by intern Matthew Maus, volunteered to design the traveling garden and made it look like an actual garden. Complete Fabrication volunteered its welding services.

The Traveling Nutrition Education Garden is ready to roll. Groups and organizations can contact House of Hope at 772-286-4673 to schedule presentations and can track its participation at various community events on the House of Hope website www.hohmartin.org.

About House of Hope

Founded in 1984, House of Hope is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers Martin County residents to overcome hunger and hardship. House of Hope touches the lives of more than 7,000 people each month helping with basic needs such as food, clothing, furniture, financial assistance, as well as longer-term case management services that help build life skills for a more self-sufficient future. 

The organization has service centers and thrift stores in Stuart, Hobe Sound, Indiantown, and Jensen Beach. House of Hope’s Golden Gate Center for Enrichment in Stuart offers free programs, technology, and workshops designed to enhance life skills, earning potential, health, and overall well-being.

House of Hope also operates the Growing Hope Farm in Palm City and several nutrition gardens that provide sustainable sources of fresh produce for clients as well as nutrition education and vocational opportunities to the community. For more information, visit hohmartin.org or call 772-286-4673. Updates and announcements can also be found on Facebook, Instagram Instagram, and Twitter.


House of Hope Is Serving Up Thanksgiving Dinner With All the Fixings

STUART, Fla. – For many, Thanksgiving means turkey with all the fixings, but for the thousands of people in our community who are food insecure, that traditional meal is unaffordable.

House of Hope is once again holding its annual turkey drive to help its 7,000 clients and its partners at local food pantries and soup kitchens provide those customary Thanksgiving holiday meals. What’s different this year is “all the fixings.”

“While boxed and canned items are always in demand, our goal at House of Hope is to add fresh vegetables to the mix and help people learn to eat more nutritious meals.” said Rob Ranieri, CEO of House of Hope.

In an innovative approach to getting fresh food to their clients, House of Hope developed hydroponic greenhouses as well as conventional in-ground beds at their production farm in Palm City. “We’re growing our own,” Ranieri said, “so we can be sure our clients benefit from fresh produce along with staples in their diet.”

Every Tuesday and Friday, staff and volunteers harvest the latest crop. When Thanksgiving dinners are distributed during the week of November 15, they’ll include traditional items as well as fresh produce from the House of Hope production farm.

“The demand for food assistance continues to break all records,” Ranieri said. “We have gone from distributing one million pounds of food in the fiscal year before the pandemic to 1.5 million pounds two years ago. In the fiscal year that ended on September 30, we broke the 2.1 million pound mark.”

Community generosity is essential, and at least 400 turkeys are needed. Anyone able to donate turkeys and other foodstuffs can bring them to the House of Hope offices at 2484 SE Bonita Street in Stuart by November 12. Thanksgiving distribution will be available at all four of the House of Hope food pantries in Stuart, Jensen Beach, Hobe Sound and Indiantown.

“People need food, and we’re prepared to help them. With the generosity of our community and the harvests from our garden,” Ranieri said, “we can make this Thanksgiving one that’s filled with the spirit of gratitude and also healthy food.”

About House of Hope

Founded in 1984, House of Hope is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers Martin County residents to overcome hunger and hardship. House of Hope touches the lives of more than 7,000 people each month helping with basic needs such as food, clothing, furniture, financial assistance, as well as longer-term case management services that help build life skills for a more self-sufficient future. 

The organization has service centers and thrift stores in Stuart, Hobe Sound, Indiantown, and Jensen Beach. House of Hope’s Golden Gate Center for Enrichment in Stuart offers free programs, technology, and workshops designed to enhance life skills, earning potential, health, and overall well-being.

House of Hope also operates the Growing Hope Farm in Palm City and several nutrition gardens that provide sustainable sources of fresh produce for clients as well as nutrition education and vocational opportunities to the community. For more information, visit hohmartin.org or call 772-286-4673. Updates and announcements can also be found on Facebook, Instagram Instagram, and Twitter.


House of Hope Panel Explores Link Between Poverty and Health

September Panel Discussion Now Available on YouTube

STUART, Fla. – Leaders from several nonprofit organizations came together on Friday, September 24, at the Council on Aging’s Kane Center to explore the questions of how poverty and health are interrelated in the lives of Treasure Coast residents and what challenges that relationship presents to the community.

The panel discussion “At the Crossroads of Poverty and Health” was sponsored by House of Hope, with panel participants Rob Ranieri, CEO of House of Hope; Karen Ripper, CEO of Council on Aging/Kane Center; Samantha Suffich, CEO of the Martin County Healthy Start Coalition; and Mary Beth Pena, Nurse Program Specialist and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist for Florida Department of Health in Martin County.

Moderator Pat Austin posed a situation to each of the panelists about real life experiences of people who find themselves with limited financial resources. The panelists explored how these individuals could get services in the community but also how their immediate problems were quickly compounded.

“We have all had experiences within our organizations that led us to conclude that poverty often leads to poor health,” said Ranieri, “and that poor health often limits a person’s ability to build financial resources. It can become a ruthless cycle. Numerous studies support these conclusions. It is up to us in our own community to find solutions.”

The panelists tackled topics such as access to care, collaboration among nonprofit agencies, and opportunities to improve both the economic status and health status of the people they serve.

Both the panelists and the attendees agreed that the questions are worth pursuing from other aspects, such as education, mental health, jobs, living wage, and policy decisions. Future panels are being considered to further inform the community and involve more agencies and individuals in driving improvement.

The September panel discussion is available for viewing on our website at: hohmartin.org/crossroads or on our YouTube channel at: At the Crossroads of Poverty and Health Panel Discussion - YouTube

About House of Hope

Founded in 1984, House of Hope is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers Martin County residents to overcome hunger and hardship. House of Hope touches the lives of more than 7,000 people each month helping with basic needs such as food, clothing, furniture, financial assistance, as well as longer-term case management services that help build life skills for a more self-sufficient future. 

The organization has service centers and thrift stores in Stuart, Hobe Sound, Indiantown, and Jensen Beach. House of Hope’s Golden Gate Center for Enrichment in Stuart offers free programs, technology, and workshops designed to enhance life skills, earning potential, health, and overall well-being.

House of Hope also operates the Growing Hope Farm in Palm City and several nutrition gardens that provide sustainable sources of fresh produce for clients as well as nutrition education and vocational opportunities to the community. For more information, visit hohmartin.org or call 772-286-4673. Updates and announcements can also be found on Facebook, Instagram Instagram, and Twitter.


Publix Super Market Charities Supports House of Hope’s Efforts to Keep Martin County Residents Healthy

Publix Super Market Charities generously awarded House of Hope a $7,500 grant to support its Hunger Relief Programs, which will go a long way to help the agency meet the continued elevated need since COVID impacted the area. Through four food pantries across the county, House of Hope now provides 7,000 services each month, which is 30% higher than before COVID. Almost four times more (25+) area nonprofits now rely on House of Hope for regular food bank services to provide nutritional food to clients of their soup kitchens, shelters, youth programs and church pantries. There is never a cost to anyone seeking food or other assistance from House of Hope. The agency’s production farm in Palm City keeps pantries stocked with farm-fresh produce for clients and food bank partners, and the onsite nutrition center produces 1,600 packages a week of nutritionally balanced, produce- and protein-packed meals, sandwiches, and salads. Low income communities are plagued with higher rates of diabetes and obesity, and by prioritizing the availability of fresh, healthy food for agency clients, House of Hope helps the low income community reduce obstacles that diet-related diseases can put on their success. 

This valuable grant from Publix Super Market Charities supports the operations and continued improvements of House of Hope’s Client Choice Pantries, Elisabeth Lahti Nutrition Center, and Growing Hope Production Farm. House of Hope CEO, Robert Ranieri, enjoyed the opportunity to take Publix District Manager, Lillian Cook, on a tour of the Stuart facility to see the agency’s nutrition center, warehouse and largest food pantry (pictured). Publix Super Market Charities continues to make a difference for its neighbors and helps serve HOPE to Martin County!


2021 Hope Awards Honor Friends of House of Hope at Annual Recognition Breakfast

STUART, Fla. – House of Hope supporters----individuals, businesses, and organizations from across Martin County---never expect thanks for all they do to help the organization empower residents to overcome hunger and hardship.

Once a year, though, House of Hope friends and sponsors gather to show gratitude and celebrate their efforts with the Hope Awards.

“Our award recipients this year and every year make a huge impact on our community,” says Rob Ranieri, CEO of House of Hope. “They contribute their passion, expertise, creativity and resources to help us carry out our mission.”

This year’s Hope Awards Recognition Breakfast was held on September 9 at Monarch Country Club in Palm City, with HBKS Wealth Advisors as the Presenting Sponsor. A special moment in the ceremony was the awarding of the Barbara Trimble Legacy Award, named after a long-standing philanthropist of House of Hope and other community non-profits. For their contributions to House of Hope over many years of service, the Barbara Trimble Legacy Award was presented to Marni and David Abate. David Abate accepted the award on behalf of himself and his wife, who recently passed away.

The Hope Award recipients for 2021 are:  Richard and Janet Galante - Community Ambassadors; Bob Plunkett from Global Irrigation Solutions, LLC; Florida Department of Health in Martin County; Andrea Dean from Helping People Succeed; Ed Ciampi, Board of County Commissioners; Niki L. Norton of n2 Architecture + Design; Carlita Fiestas-Nuñez from IFAS; Triumph Aerospace-Vought; Town of Ocean Breeze; Karner Surveying, Inc.; Arthur Ondich; Noel Espinal; Kirk McLean; Dene Roker; Jim McNey; Tim Arthur; and Jesse Katz.

“These award winners have given hope to every client who has benefited from House of Hope programs,” says Ranieri “From our food and nutrition services to financial assistance, clothes closet, case management, and information and referral, House of Hope keeps our neighbors safe, housed, healthy and secure. We can only do it because of the generous support of our friends.”

About House of Hope

Founded in 1984, House of Hope is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers Martin County residents to overcome hunger and hardship. House of Hope touches the lives of more than 7,000 people each month helping with basic needs such as food, clothing, furniture, financial assistance, as well as longer-term case management services that help build life skills for a more self-sufficient future. 

The organization has service centers and thrift stores in Stuart, Hobe Sound, Indiantown, and Jensen Beach. House of Hope’s Golden Gate Center for Enrichment in Stuart offers free programs, technology, and workshops designed to enhance life skills, earning potential, health, and overall well-being.

House of Hope also operates the Growing Hope Farm in Palm City and several nutrition gardens that provide sustainable sources of fresh produce for clients as well as nutrition education and vocational opportunities to the community. For more information, visit hohmartin.org or call 772-286-4673. Updates and announcements can also be found on Facebook, Instagram Instagram, and Twitter.


House of Hope Panel Explores Poverty and Health Connection

STUART, Fla. - The link between poverty and health is a profound one. It’s also a fact of life for many people on the Treasure Coast and across the nation.

House of Hope is sponsoring a panel of community nonprofit leaders to explore how poverty affects health and how health in turn affects economic status. At 10 a.m. on Friday, September 24, the panel will meet at the Kane Center in Stuart in a session that will be held both in-person and carried on Zoom.

The discussion is entitled “At the Crossroads of Poverty and Health” and will feature Karen Ripper, CEO of the Council on Aging of Martin County; Samantha Suffich, CEO of the Martin County Healthy Start Coalition; Marybeth Pena, Nurse Program Specialist and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist for Florida Department of Health in Martin County; and Rob Ranieri, CEO of House of Hope.

“Poverty means more than limited resources for basics like food and housing,” says Ranieri. “It may also mean poor health, which in turn traps people in poverty. It’s a ruthless cycle that affects our friends and neighbors.”

The community is invited to participate by registering at https://tinyurl.com/HOHdiscussion. There is no charge for admission. Covid protocols will be observed.

The session will be recorded and available to the public after September 24.

About House of Hope

Founded in 1984, House of Hope is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers Martin County residents to overcome hunger and hardship. House of Hope touches the lives of more than 7,000 people each month helping with basic needs such as food, clothing, furniture, financial assistance, as well as longer-term case management services that help build life skills for a more self-sufficient future. 

The organization has service centers and thrift stores in Stuart, Hobe Sound, Indiantown, and Jensen Beach. House of Hope’s Golden Gate Center for Enrichment in Stuart offers free programs, technology, and workshops designed to enhance life skills, earning potential, health, and overall well-being.

House of Hope also operates the Growing Hope Farm in Palm City and several nutrition gardens that provide sustainable sources of fresh produce for clients as well as nutrition education and vocational opportunities to the community. For more information, visit hohmartin.org or call 772-286-4673. Updates and announcements can also be found on Facebook, Instagram Instagram, and Twitter.


House of Hope Receives Community Impact Grants from Martin County United Way

STUART, Fla. – House of Hope is the recipient of three generous Community Impact grants totaling $100,000 from the United Way of Martin County for 2021-22. The grant awards will help to sustain House of Hope programs that are vital in meeting the basic needs and life skills of Martin County residents for food and household needs as well as encouraging their health and employment opportunities.

The grants specifically support House of Hope’s Client Choice pantries, Project HOPE (Helping Others Progress through Empowerment), and the Golden Gate Center for Enrichment programs and services. All programs and services of House of Hope are provided at no cost to the individuals and families served by the organization.

“We are fortunate to have innovative nonprofit organizations like House of Hope working tirelessly to respond to our community's needs,” said United Way of Martin County President/CEO Carol G. Houwaart-Diez. “Beyond the three community impact grants receiving funding this year, they have also been an incredible partner working with us throughout the pandemic to administer CARES Act funds and COVID Relief funds to support our most vulnerable neighbors.”  

During the Covid19 pandemic, House of Hope reached new highs in the number of individuals and families who needed assistance. Thanks to donors and volunteers, the staff distributed almost two million pounds of food within twelve months.

“House of Hope has always been at the heart of meeting community needs for basics like food and household goods,” said Rob Ranieri, CEO of House of Hope. “We’ve become very innovative in how we produce and distribute fresh food, educate our clients, and help them make connections to break their cycle of poverty. We’re grateful to United Way for sustaining their support as we look to the challenges and opportunities for the coming year.”

House of Hope operates four Client Choice pantries throughout Martin County (Indiantown, Hobe Sound, Stuart, Jensen Beach).  Four nutrition gardens located in lower-income neighborhoods are a source of fresh produce and provide a base for House of Hope to provide nutrition education for over 800 children and adults. Growing Hope Farm is expanding to have two hydroponic greenhouses as well as aeroponic and in-ground growing to provide more than 1400 packages of fresh, high quality produce each week to the Client Choice pantries and partners.  

Project HOPE seeks to move individuals and families past their crisis, stabilize the households, and work with clients to develop a plan toward economic self-sufficiency that will break the cycle of poverty. Outside of COVID emergency protocols, every client that enters House of Hope receives some level of case management to start the process. In addition, the case management team makes over 1,200 referrals a month to connect clients to programs and services provided by a vast partner network.

The Golden Gate Center for Enrichment is a hub of activity offering a variety of classes and programs focused on the fields of health and nutrition, education, job skills and job training, the arts, and family-friendly social opportunities. Classes and programs are delivered by House of Hope staff and volunteers and by partners and businesses that bring their expertise and knowledge to the participants. Some of the available classes and programs include English as a Second Language, financial literacy, computer instruction, career coaching, smoking cessation, early learning, homework helpers, and diabetes education sessions.

About House of Hope

Founded in 1984, House of Hope is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers Martin County residents to overcome hunger and hardship. House of Hope touches the lives of more than 7,000 people each month helping with basic needs such as food, clothing, furniture, financial assistance, as well as longer-term case management services that help build life skills for a more self-sufficient future. 

The organization has service centers and thrift stores in Stuart, Hobe Sound, Indiantown, and Jensen Beach. House of Hope’s Golden Gate Center for Enrichment in Stuart offers free programs, technology, and workshops designed to enhance life skills, earning potential, health, and overall well-being.

House of Hope also operates the Growing Hope Farm in Palm City and several nutrition gardens that provide sustainable sources of fresh produce for clients as well as nutrition education and vocational opportunities to the community. For more information, visit hohmartin.org or call 772-286-4673. Updates and announcements can also be found on Facebook, Instagram Instagram, and Twitter.


House of Hope Approaches 2-Million Milestone

STUART, Fla. – For most organizations, approaching a 2 million mark would be cause for celebration. For House of Hope, it’s both a cause for celebration and a concern for the community. In 2019, pre-Covid, House of Hope distributed more than 970,000 pounds to those in need in Martin County. In 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, that number jumped to nearly 1.5 million pounds. Rob Ranieri, CEO of House of Hope, anticipates they will exceed the 2-million-pound mark before the end of 2021.

The Covid pandemic has made every basic need more urgent and more challenging to fill. Certainly, no need is more basic than food. “People who would never have imagined that they would be wondering where they would get their next meal have come to our doors seeking food during the pandemic,” Ranieri says. “It’s taken determination, creativity, and all of our community partners working together to address this growing issue of food insecurity in Martin County.”

Generous donors in the community supply food to the House of Hope Food Pantry or make cash donations, and grocery stores such as Publix and state-wide partner Farm Share supplement the donations. During the pandemic, the Martin County Board of County Commissioners and the United Way of Martin County stepped forward as partners, using federal CARES ACT dollars to assist House of Hope in feeding the increased number of hungry families and individuals.

Several years ago, House of Hope’s leadership realized they needed to do things differently if they were going to not only supply food but supply good nutrition. “Nutrition and health are a major part of the equation at House of Hope. The link between poor health and poverty is irrefutable. Part of our mission is giving people the skills and knowledge to make better food choices.  We want to not only feed people but feed them well,” Ranieri says.

Growing Hope Farm in Palm City is an innovative House of Hope program that uses hydroponic farming to grow fresh fruits and vegetables which are then made available to low-income residents through House of Hope’s four pantries and network of food partners. 

“We know fresh foods improve our diets,” Ranieri says, “but they are often cost-prohibitive for the people we serve.” By growing their own, using both staff and volunteers, House of Hope is able to offer regular access to healthy, fresh foods, delivering 1,400 packages of produce weekly.

A $100,000 grant House of Hope recently received from Impact 100 Martin will make it possible to expand the program during the coming year. With the help of previous grants and donations, the expansion also includes completing a dedicated packing house with its own cold storage and the planting of a fruit tree orchard.

The Elizabeth Lahti Nutrition Center, on-site at House of Hope’s main location in Stuart, is a pristine commercial kitchen where 1600 packages of healthy meals and salads are prepared for clients and partners every week, in addition to sandwiches provided daily to clients experiencing homelessness.

Particularly during Covid, the entire community has stepped forward to help with the unprecedented need for food. Support from the Community Foundation Martin-St. Lucie, the United Way of Martin County, and the Martin County Board of County Commissioners, as well as the local Funders Consortium and individual donations, have assured that no one who is hungry is turned away.

“It’s difficult to predict whether the 2-million-pound mark is a once-in-a-lifetime high or whether we will need to sustain ever-higher needs for food,” Ranieri says. “Whatever happens, House of Hope will rise to the challenge, and with our partners, we’ll continue to be an innovative beacon of hope in Martin County for those in need.”

About House of Hope

Founded in 1984, House of Hope is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers Martin County residents to overcome hunger and hardship. House of Hope touches the lives of more than 7,000 people each month helping with basic needs such as food, clothing, furniture, financial assistance, as well as longer-term case management services that help build life skills for a more self-sufficient future. 

The organization has service centers and thrift stores in Stuart, Hobe Sound, Indiantown, and Jensen Beach. House of Hope’s Golden Gate Center for Enrichment in Stuart offers free programs, technology, and workshops designed to enhance life skills, earning potential, health, and overall well-being.

House of Hope also operates the Growing Hope Farm in Palm City and several nutrition gardens that provide sustainable sources of fresh produce for clients as well as nutrition education and vocational opportunities to the community. For more information, visit hohmartin.org or call 772-286-4673. Updates and announcements can also be found on Facebook, Instagram Instagram, and Twitter.


A $100,000 grant from Impact100 Martin helps House of Hope provide healthier food to more people

STUART, Fla. –House of Hope is a recipient of a $100,000 grant from Impact100 Martin to expand its “Feeding Families for Success” program. The impact grant provides critical funding for enhancing production capabilities at the Growing Hope Farm in Palm City and the Elisabeth Lahti Nutrition Center in Stuart.

Both Growing Hope Farm and the Lahti Nutrition Center are innovative approaches to feeding the hungry in Martin County. They provide fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables so that House of Hope can not only feed people but also provide them with healthy food.

Thanks to the Impact 100 Grant, Growing Hope Farm will increase capacity within its hydroponic greenhouse, adding almost 5,000 plants to its trellis growing systems. The farm is already producing 1,400 packages of food weekly to improve the diets of those who seek help from House of Hope.

The Elisabeth Lahti Nutrition Center, which currently produces 1,600 packages each week of healthy meals and salads for clients and partners, will use the grant funding to create more productive workspace and automate tasks such as dishwashing and food processing. The expansion will allow for more meals to be delivered to food pantries each week.

“We know that healthy children are better learners, and healthy adults are ‘better earners’ – becoming more successful in the workforce and increasing their chances for financial independence,” says Rob Ranieri, Chief Executive Officer of House of Hope. “House of Hope is very grateful to the outstanding philanthropists of Impact100 Martin for supporting us in our efforts and to the Community Foundation of Martin-St. Lucie. which has been an essential partner in our community outreach.”

Expansion plans reflect the growing need for food assistance within the community, particularly since the start of the Covid-19 epidemic. Beginning in March 2020, House of Hope registered more than 700 new families and 1,500 individuals. “The people coming through our doors were faces we’d never seen before. People who had never before in their lives needed help putting food on the table were struggling to survive. It was heartbreaking,” explains Ranieri.

Increased production from Growing Hope Farm and Lahti Nutrition Center will add to the nutritious foods that can be distributed to more than 7,000 clients a month served through House of Hope’s four food pantries and an additional 3,500 people who are served through 24 community food partners. 

“Sadly, a year after the impact of the pandemic first began to be felt, the need for our food pantries and food bank partners hasn’t declined,” says Ranieri. “House of Hope is continuously evolving and improving to meet that community need. We’ve risen to the challenge.”

To learn more about House of Hope, visit www.hohmartin.org.

About House of Hope

Founded in 1984, House of Hope is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers Martin County residents to overcome hunger and hardship. House of Hope touches the lives of more than 7,000 people each month helping with basic needs such as food, clothing, furniture, financial assistance, as well as longer-term case management services that help build life skills for a more self-sufficient future.

The organization has service centers and thrift stores in Stuart, Hobe Sound, Indiantown, and Jensen Beach. House of Hope’s Golden Gate Center for Enrichment in Stuart offers free programs, technology, and workshops designed to enhance life skills, earning potential, health, and overall well-being.

House of Hope also operates the Growing Hope Farm in Palm City and several nutrition gardens that provide sustainable sources of fresh produce for clients as well as nutrition education and vocational opportunities to the community. For more information, visit hohmartin.org or call 772-286-4673. Updates and announcements can also be found on Facebook, Instagram Instagram, and Twitter.


House of Hope put the FUN in raising FUNds during their first annual Hunt for Hope Scavenger Hunt

STUART, Fla. – An enthusiastic and diverse group of more than 40 participants scattered across Martin County on a sunny Saturday as part of House of Hope’s first annual Hunt for Hope scavenger hunt presented by Crary Buchanan Attorneys at Law. On February 27, teams used House of Hope’s customized app to compete for unique prizes by completing various challenges and missions at local landmarks, businesses, and attractions in Stuart, Indiantown, Palm City, Hobe Sound, and Jensen Beach. The scavenger hunt was a clever new way for the organization to raise funds to support its critical programs.

Scavenger hunt challenges included problem-solving, performances, gathering items, taking videos or selfies, and other hilarious or thought-provoking tasks closely related to the House of Hope’s mission. Some of the group’s favorite tasks were performing a catwalk at the House of Hope Stuart Thrift Store in their best-thrifted outfit, packing food for distribution at House of Hope’s largest pantry in Stuart, making smoothies on the manpowered “smoothie bike” machine in the East Stuart Nutrition Garden, and learning about the history of the Golden Gate Center for Enrichment and the New Monrovia One-Room Schoolhouse. Children enjoyed showing off their best t-rex dinosaur impressions, having karaoke showdowns against their teammates, and reenacting scenes as National Geographic explorers.

“Hunt for Hope was designed to incorporate COVID-19 safety protocols while engaging participants in a fun, team-based scavenger hunt. We weren’t sure what to expect with Hunt for Hope being a brand-new event, but the feedback we received from participants was overwhelmingly positive,” said Rob Ranieri, Chief Executive Officer of House of Hope.

After teams completed the scavenger hunt, they went to Growing Hope Farm in Palm City for the outdoor after-party. In addition to the announcement of winners and prizes awarded, teams enjoyed delicious, boxed lunches from Jimmy’s BBQ Food Truck and received tours of the Growing Hope Farm to learn more about their nutrition initiatives.

The grand prize, valued at $4,700, was awarded to Team Nozzle Nolen, including Glenda Vander Wilt, Mark Davis, Shaun Jones, and Kevin Eaton and featured gift certificates for hotel stays, fine dining, and fun experiences like axe throwing and trampoline parks.  Second-place prize, valued at $2,400, was awarded to the Super Scavengers including Sue and Tom Whittington, Brigite Babine, Kelly McIntyre, Farrah Taylor, and Lexington Taylor. 

Team ESP including Elaine Matts, Sonita Farr, and Pattie Dunn, was awarded a Hunt for Hope medal for being the top fundraiser team, raising approximately $4,250.

Team Safari Madness, including Debbie Lovequist, Lorraine Cardarelli, Melanie Scanlon, and Darlene Kane won for best team theme.

More than fifty sponsors and in-kind donors supported the inaugural event for which House of Hope is grateful. Lead sponsor: Crary Buchanan Attorneys at Law. Other sponsors include: HBKS Wealth Advisors; Cleveland Clinic Martin Health; Pinder’s Nursery; and Nozzle Nolen. In-kind sponsors include: Anthony’s Apparel; Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza; April Daze Boutique; Balanced Body Works; Barre Necessities; Bella Bella Skin Care Pros; Berry Fresh Café; Black Marlin Restaurant; Carson’s Tavern; Children’s Museum of the Treasure Coast; Conchy Joe’s & Dolphin Bar; Diamonds by Terry Tea Room & Bistro; Dolphin Bar & Shrimp House; Dr. Breslauer of South Florida Orthopedics; Evelyn & Arthur’s; Florida Oceanographic Society; Game of Axes; Giuseppe’s Restaurant; Golf Gear; Gumbo Limbo Coastal Chic & Coastal Kids; Hard Exercise Works; Inn Shepard’s Park Bed & Breakfast; Jan’s Place; Jensen Beach Inn; Kilwins; Kyle G’s; Luna Italian Cuisine; Matilda’s; Miles Grant Country Club; Monarch Country Club; Monkee’s of Stuart; Must Boutique; Old Colorado Inn; Painting With A Twist; Piper’s Landing; Play Money; Quill & Press; River Palm Cottages & Fish Camp; RUSH Jensen Beach; Sailors Return; Salon Alchemy; Sam Matthews House; Seminole Inn; Shrimpers Grill & Raw Bar; Skin Serenity Spa; South Florida Shooting Club; Spritz City Bistro; Stuart Ceramics; Summer Crush Winery; Tootsies; Top Drawer Boutique; Transitions Float Studio; Urban Air; and YMCA of the Treasure Coast.

About House of Hope

Founded in 1984, House of Hope is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers Martin County residents to overcome hunger and hardship. House of Hope touches the lives of more than 7,000 people each month helping with basic needs such as food, clothing, furniture, financial assistance, as well as longer-term case management services that help build life skills for a more self-sufficient future. The organization has service centers and thrift stores in Stuart, Hobe Sound, Indiantown, and Jensen Beach. House of Hope’s Golden Gate Center for Enrichment in Stuart offers free programs, technology, and workshops designed to enhance life skills, earning potential, health, and overall well-being. House of Hope also operates the Growing Hope Farm in Palm City and several nutrition gardens that provide sustainable sources of fresh produce for clients as well as nutrition education and vocational opportunities to the community. For more information, visit hohmartin.org or call 772-286-4673. Updates and announcements can also be found on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Hohmartin, Instagram https://www.instagram.com/houseofhopemc/, and Twitter https://twitter.com/hohmartin.


Publix Super Markets Charities supports better nutrition for Martin County residents 

Publix Super Markets Charities has awarded $5,000 to House of Hope in support of the agency’s healthy food initiative, which includes the Elisabeth Lahti Nutrition Center, Growing Hope Production Farm and four Client Choice Pantries. The generous contribution helps provide healthier food choices and the opportunity for a more nutritious lifestyle for thousands of Martin County residents served by House of Hope’s pantries. The Nutrition Center prepares fresh salads and sandwiches made available daily to clients, and processes, packages and freezes excess produce and meats in order to provide protein-rich food year-round. Tens of thousands of pounds of locally grown fresh produce grown at the agency’s Growing Hope Farm in Palm City or gleaned (picked and donated) from area farms are also processed in the Nutrition Center and distributed throughout the pantries. There is never a cost to anyone seeking food or other assistance from House of Hope.

This important grant awarded by Publix Super Markets Charities will help cover the expenses for the Elisabeth Lahti Nutrition Center, Growing Hope Farm, and Client Choice Pantries, including the purchase of packaging supplies, pantry food acquisitions, House of Hope's food distribution truck’s maintenance, and more. House of Hope CEO Rob Ranieri remarks, "Publix continues to make a difference in the lives of the families that House of Hope reaches. This grant from Publix Super Markets Charities is that much more valuable as we respond to an increased demand due to the pandemic. Publix maintains a caring corporate culture and is always willing to support us as we work to empower Martin County residents to overcome hunger and hardship."

Support for House of Hope’s healthy food and nutrition initiatives helps to provide access to healthy foods in under-served communities in an effort to reduce chronic disease in the populations most affected by them. By easing food insecurity and ensuring House of Hope clients have nutritious food on their tables, the Client Choice pantries may improve health, reduce health care costs, reduce the number of missed days from work and school, and improve the overall wellness of our community.


House of Hope evolves during pandemic to better serve struggling households

MARTIN COUNTY- House of Hope has always embraced change by recognizing opportunities and evolving to incorporate new ways to help empower thousands of local residents to overcome hunger and hardship each month. Most recently, by exponentially growing the number and scale of food partners, utilizing generous donations efficiently, and tackling the ambitious realm of producing farm-fresh food – House of Hope’s model has grown to position itself as a reliable food bank to fellow agencies. This shift has been in the making for months, however, the COVID-19 Pandemic created the pressing need to hit the ground running in order to meet the drastic increase in assistance being sought after. The agency jumped from serving 5,500 local residents monthly to averaging a staggering 7,000 per month through four House of Hope food pantries as well as thousands more via partnering agencies. 

Traditionally, area charities had a struggle procuring the needed pantry staples and supplies to serve those in need usually resorting to purchasing these items. This expense being a significant chunk of budgets limited the resources available to fund other programs offered by those organizations. House of Hope’s substantial food distribution to partners exponentially increases the variety, quality and quantity of food items available and they are shared with House of Hope’s program partners at no cost. This not only improves the offerings for each of these various feeding programs, it frees up funding for these agencies to offer more robust and impactful additional services to the Martin County households they help. Approximately 7000,000 lbs of food have already been provided by House of Hope to area organizations during the COVID response.

Partners such as Farm Share, Restoration Bridge International, Publix, CROS Ministries have helped provide thousands of pounds of fresh food, much of it direct from growers across the Southeastern U.S. Dairy and eggs, for example, used to be next to impossible to procure and now House of Hope has such a steady supply that not only do the agency’s four Martin County pantries offer it often, program partners such as LAHIA, First United Methodist's Manna Kitchen, Safespace, and the Boys and Girls Club of Martin County have been able to access the previously impossible inventory.

House of Hope’s most unique game changers have been its new Growing Hope Farm and the Elisabeth Lahti Nutrition Center, both having exceeded the expectations set for these assets producing and preparing 8,000 units of nutritionally balanced meals and snacks each month. Hydroponically and aeroponically grown produce is harvested and prepared on the same day by staff and volunteers pairing with donated food items to create nutritionally balanced salads, sandwiches, meal kits and snacks to be distributed by House of Hope pantries and partner agencies.  The initial goal of these programs was to improve the health and stability of families through nutrition, an initiative promoted as “Hope For Health.” The successes of these programs have helped that initiative to stretch far beyond House of Hope’s own pantry clientele now also impacting fellow agencies' recipients.

House of Hope Board Chairman, Hans VanDerlip shares, “House of Hope continues in its quest to serve the residents of Martin County to the best of our ability. In this time of unparalleled unpredictability, the staff and volunteers of House of Hope consistently go above and beyond. As the needs of our community change and evolve so will the manner in which we proudly and humbly serve.” 


House of Hope now taking precautions regarding COVID-19

House of Hope has developed the following health and safety guidelines for our community related to coronavirus (COVID-19). As an organization focused on addressing the needs of our clients, especially during a crisis, we are committed to ensuring that our community is equipped to stay healthy during this rapidly evolving public health threat through different means like planning, messaging, supplies stocking, and additional cleaning.

In an effort to take every precaution and prioritize health and safety, House of Hope has put in place the following guidelines:

1. House of Hope employees and volunteers who are sick or living with sick individuals are required to stay home.

2. House of Hope’s locations are remaining open as normally scheduled at this time with the intent to continue offering services as usual. Some advocacy and volunteer appreciation events have been postponed. We encourage you to read any and all updates on our website, Facebook page, and emails as the situation develops.

3. If you have a medical condition that places you in a high-risk category (older adults or people who have a serious chronic medical condition like: Heart Disease, Diabetes, or Lung Disease), talk to your doctor before coming to House of Hope. Our staff will make every effort to be flexible in working with clients, partners, and/or volunteers in the high-risk categories by making alternate arrangements to provide services, meetings via phone or other necessary methods.

As always, the best thing we can do to prevent the spread of illness is:

1. Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds with soap and water.

2. Cover your sneezes and coughs with a tissue or cough into your elbow and then wash your hands.

3. Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.

If you have any questions, concerns or feedback, please reach out to House of Hope by calling (772) 286-4673 or emailing Info@hohmartin.org

FOR MORE INFO ON HOW HOUSE OF HOPE IS OPERATING AMID COVID-19 PROTOCOLS, VISIT https://www.hohmartin.org/covid


House of Hope Seeks Support in Preparing for Drastic Spike in Needy Households

MARTIN COUNTY- As local need is expected to drastically increase by more than 50% - worse than post-natural disaster numbers, House of Hope is asking the public to get involved. Monetary donations, volunteers for food distribution procedures, and non-perishable food items are needed immediately to meet the rapidly increasing community needs. Daily operations have shifted to take unprecedented measures in order to implement precautions needed to protect volunteers, staff, and clients from exposure to COVID-19 risks while continuing to serve thousands of residents in need.

The local workforce is heavily tied to the restaurant and hospitality industries whose workers are now losing their jobs with no assurances of re-employment by any particular date. Any resident whose livelihood depends on tourism, dining out and recreational activities have already been drastically affected by the mandated closures and social distancing practices. Many of these workers have never received assistance from agencies such as House of Hope before and will need to learn where they may find help to combat food insecurity and possible eviction. Additionally, children home from school for the fores