Casey DeSantis’ Hope Hero Program Receives $400,000 from WellMed

November 18, 2022 Updated 2:36 PM ET

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TALLAHASSEE (FLV) – Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis celebrated that Florida’s Aging Network received a $400,000 grant from the WellMed Charitable Foundation to support seniors in recovering from Hurricane Ian.

The assistance will be distributed via Florida’s Hope Florida – A Pathway to Purpose Hope Hero volunteer program.

“We’ve seen the power of our Hope Hero volunteers in full force following Hurricane Ian’s devastation in counties where seniors made up more than half of the population,” said DeSantis. “Our vision is to have a network of businesses, nonprofits and caring individuals who can help support vulnerable seniors. I’m so appreciative of the WellMed Charitable Foundation for helping us turn that vision into a reality.”

The Hope Hero program was announced in August 2022 part of the Hope Florida expansion to the Florida Department of Elder Affairs.

Hope Florida – A Pathway to Purpose was launched in 2021 and has “served nearly 50,000 individuals,” the governor’s office said. The initiative is meant to “unite the private sector, faith-based institutions, non-profits, and government entities” to “uncover opportunities” for those in need.

“Hope Heroes is a wonderful demonstration of how public/private partnerships help us do more than we could individually. We’re so proud to support an initiative that addresses the needs of older Floridians struggling with the damage from Hurricane Ian, and that also builds a strong foundation of volunteerism and service for years to come,” said Carol Zernial, WellMed Charitable Foundation Executive Director.

“Upon the First Lady issuing a call for volunteers after Hurricane Ian, we saw over 200 people sign up to help seniors in Southwest Florida. The feedback from those on the ground has been inspiring and emotional,” said Department of Elder Affairs Secretary Michelle Branham. “Hope Hero volunteers are caring citizens who want to help their older neighbors. We are so grateful to the WellMed Charitable Foundation for giving this program the resources to expand.”

“We are proud to be partners in this collaboration where the needs of seniors can be prioritized and met, especially following such devastation in Southwest and Central Florida,” said Lisa Bretz, CEO of Advantage Aging Solutions.”

Read more about the initiative here.

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