By Jennifer Meek, Director of Marketing for Charlotte Products Ltd.
What began as a commitment to volunteer as much as possible in our community as a team has turned into a guiding light that has helped shape our mission, values, and the ways we work together as a team here at Charlotte. The Charlotte Cares program is a company-wide initiative that encourages our team to volunteer in the local community and collectively participate in making a difference. We aim to inspire others to participate in creating safe healthy spaces for everyone, especially community members in need. Our latest Charlotte Cares Initiative helped to make a safe space for grieving children safer, during the height of the pandemic in the United States.
Valerie’s House, located in Fort Myers, FL, provides open-ended peer support groups and activities for children to heal after a significant loss in their life. The space serves as a community for grieving youth to come together, share, and mentor each other through their grief. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Valerie’s House, like many businesses, was forced to shut its physical space and move its programming to virtual. However, as time passed and the deaths in Florida alone from COVID-19 continued to increase, it was time for Valerie’s House to find a way to safely open its doors to the children who needed it most.
Ally O’Brien, Assistant Director of Group Support, called her brother Andrew Knopp, to ask for some advice on how the facility could vet its cleaning service providers to ensure they were doing everything possible to prevent infection and to keep Valerie House functioning safely. Ally knew Andrew would give her useful advice, because he worked in the public health industry and had recently been hired as the U.S. regional sales manager for Charlotte Products.
Andrew knew that the products and resources available through Charlotte Products would be a significant benefit to Valerie’s House, and soon was able to connect Ally with our Charlotte Cares program. Through this initiative, we were able to provide the products needed to clean and disinfect the building properly. Andrew and Charlotte V.P. of U.S. Sales, Jeff Schwantes, traveled to Fort Myers to personally train all staff on safe reopening procedures. In early August, Valerie’s House was able to safely reopen for its first peer support group in months.
“The Charlotte Cares program provided our families, volunteers, and staff with the comfort of being in a safe and clean environment,” says Ally O’Brien. “Having a clean and safe environment for our grieving families to come together in is important to our vision that no child will grieve alone. By the end of the first group night, our families were able to share that all of their apprehensions were put aside and they felt fully comfortable being in the Valerie’s House space. We cannot thank the Charlotte Cares program more for providing peace of mind to our families in a time in their lives that often brings so much uncertainty, anxiety, and turmoil.”
Ally started working at Valerie‘s House as an intern only a few years after her father died when she was just 16. “I know deeply how it feels to be a grieving child,” she says. “I also know that stability and security were at the top of my list of the things I needed as a grieving teen.”
Valerie’s House exists to provide a safe space for kids that are grieving and hurting. And now, in a time of uncertainty and fear, it is more important than ever before to make sure that children have stability and security. We are proud that we were able to help create a safer safe space for them.
We look forward to partnering with our suppliers, customers and industry organizations to bring the spirit of Charlotte Cares to many other communities across Canada and the U.S. to help create safer spaces for people everywhere.