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Nonprofit with 100-year, $1 lease with city opens in Fort Myers

  • By Louis Llovio
  • | 1:30 p.m. March 28, 2024
  • | 2 Free Articles Remaining!
Valerie's House has opened a new facility in Fort Myers.
Valerie's House has opened a new facility in Fort Myers.
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A 7,000-square-foot center for children dealing with grief has opened in Fort Myers on a piece of land owned by the city and leased for $1 per year to the organization that will operate it.

The property was developed by the nonprofit Valerie’s House, which raised $3 million to build and prepare the home at 3551 Valerie’s House Way — previously 3551 Shoemaker Lane.

The property, between Schoolhouse Road East and Veronica S. Shoemaker Boulevard, has been owned by the city since 1992. It was assessed at $141,918 last year.

Valerie’s House was founded by Angela Melvin Churchill in 2016 and named for her mother, Valerie, who was killed in a Fort Myers car accident in 1987. The organization “provides a safe, comfortable place for children to share, grieve and heal together following the death of a close family member.”

In addition to the new Fort Myers facility, it has locations in Naples and Punta Gorda. And in 2021 it opened one in Pensacola.

The new Fort Myers facility allows the organization to offer wraparound services to kids in need including individual grief counseling, parenting classes and retreats to support families who need it.

“From the moment you walk through the doors we want families to feel at home,” Churchill says in a statement.

“Along with a beautiful outdoor space for the children to play and large dining area for family meals, there also are rooms dedicated to every age group. From little ones, to teens, to caregivers, each group has their own space designed for them to come together to support one another through healing activities and discussions.”

According to its 2022 Form 990 posted on the nonprofit research company Candid Guide Star’s website, Valerie’s House has $6.5 million in total assets.



Louis Llovio

Louis Llovio is the deputy managing editor at the Business Observer. Before going to work at the Observer, the longtime business writer worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Maryland Daily Record and for the Baltimore Sun Media Group. He lives in Tampa.

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