First Lady Casey DeSantis announced Aug. 30 the expansion of her Hope Florida initiative to the Florida Department of Elder Affairs. The expansion, called Hope Florida – A Pathway to Purpose, will provide support for Florida’s elders by increasing assistance for seniors in need while helping to facilitate opportunities for seniors looking to serve.
This announcement comes on the heels of the First Lady’s Hope Florida – A Pathway to Prosperity initiative, which she launched in 2021 to break down traditional community silos to unite the private sector, faith-based institutions, non-profits, and government entities to maximize resources and uncover opportunities for Floridians in need. Implemented by the Florida Department of Children and Families, Hope Florida – A Pathway to Prosperity has served nearly 50,000 individuals, helping them find an individualized path to prosperity, economic self-sufficiency, and hope.
With the expansion, the Department of Elder Affairs and the state’s eleven Area Agencies on Aging established their own Hope Navigators, who will further break down traditional community silos by uniting seniors and caregivers with community partners, giving seniors direct access to help locating immediate needs. In addition, the Hope Navigators will help identify ways for these seniors to find purpose, which could take the form of volunteering or mentoring. To be paired with a Hope Navigator, call 850-300-HOPE.
For seniors who wish to give back to society, Hope Florida – A Pathway to Purpose is simplifying opportunities for seniors to help meet the needs of their communities. One way to serve is with Elder Affairs’ newly established “Hope Heroes Program,” through which retirees can learn how to support seniors in need. To become a Hope Hero or to learn about additional volunteer opportunities, call 800-96-ELDER or visit helpcreatehope.com.
With Hope Florida – A Pathway to Purpose, faith and private sector entities in Florida’s communities who want to help meet the needs of seniors can also sign up to receive real-time alerts of requests for assistance in their area and, when able, volunteer services in response.
To sign up to receive alerts regarding needs in your community, call 800-96-ELDER or visit helpcreatehope.com.
Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs
The Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs is a nearly 1,500-member constitutionally chartered State Veterans’ Affairs department responsible for serving the nation’s third largest veteran population. The department operates a network of eight state-run veterans’ nursing homes and one assisted living facility, and provides statewide outreach through a network of veterans’ claims examiners to connect Florida’s 1.5 million Veterans, their families, and survivors with earned services, benefits and support. FDVA has approximately 100 Veterans’ Claims Examiners, known in veterans’ circles as “VCEs,” co-located with the VA Regional Office in Bay Pines, each VA Medical Center and many VA Outpatient Clinics throughout the state. All outreach services are free to the Veteran. These “Hope Navigators,” who are often the first-line contact with our state’s Veterans, can be reached by calling (727) 319-7440. You may also contact them via e-mail at VSO@fdva.state.fl.us.
County Veteran Service Offices
Information on current federal, state and local veterans’ programs, entitlements and referral services is also available in Florida through a network of County Veteran Service Offices. The counselors, who are county employees and wartime veterans, are trained and accredited annually by the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs. All services are provided free of charge. A list of offices can be found online at www.FloridaVets.org/benefits-services.
Florida Veterans Foundation
The Florida Veterans Foundation is the Direct Support Organization of the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Now in its 13th year, the non-profit Foundation operates for charitable and educational purposes under Section 501(c)(3). It works closely with Florida’s 67 County Veteran Service Offices, which are “frontline” for Florida veterans, their families and survivors. The Foundation is a safety net for Florida veterans and partners with major Veteran Service Organizations to assist veterans in need with employment, housing, transportation and benefits assistance. The Foundation website, www.HelpFLVets.org, also provides important emergency assistance information, including links to the Florida Veterans Crisis Line at 1-844-MyFLVet (693-5838) or 2-1-1.
Veterans Florida (Florida is for Veterans, Inc.)
Veterans Florida is a non-profit corporation created by the State of Florida and the state’s designated SkillBridge assistance organization. They provide powerful tools to help veterans find a new career, start a business, and connect with helpful resources in the Sunshine State. Through their Career Services Program, they connect veterans with employers who are eager to hire veterans for jobs that put their particular military skills to use. They also assist veterans in creating a winning resume and preparing for job interviews. Employers receive veteran recruiting assistance and may apply for our Workforce Training Grant. The Veterans Florida Entrepreneurship Program provides all the knowledge needed to successfully launch and operate a business. Visit www.veteransflorida.org to learn more.