PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — Valerie’s House, a non-profit in Pensacola with the sole mission of helping children grieve the death of a family member, will expand into a new home thanks to the generosity of a $500,000 donation from a Pensacola foundation.

The Chadbourne Foundation has donated $500,000 for the purchase of the new Valerie’s House in Pensacola.  The Chadbourne Foundation, under the leadership of Caroline and Brian DeMaria, made the donation after getting to know the mission by knowing participants who benefited from attending support groups at Valerie’s House in Pensacola. Valerie’s House – The Chadbourne Foundation Home for Grieving Families will be located inside a cozy, historic home at 904 East Gadsden Street. 

“When Valerie’s House Pensacola started providing grief support services in late 2020; they did so without a lot of fanfare and $5,000 in the bank,” Caroline C DeMaria, President, The Chadbourne Foundation, said. “VHP didn’t come to our community riding the coat tails of a big capital campaign. Rather, VHP hit the ground running with its proven grief support model, and immediately started providing grief support services to over 100 children and families. With a proven track record of implementing their mission of ‘no child grieves alone,’ The Trustees of The Chadbourne Foundation believe our sponsorship of the new permanent location is a good fit for our philanthropy and a sound investment in our community.”

Valerie’s House, The Chadbourne Foundation Home for Grieving Families, is the first free-standing location in the region with its sole mission to offer ongoing grief support for children and adults at no cost to families.  Valerie’s House is not a formalized counseling center, but a community and a platform for grieving families to come together and help each other through the grieving process. Valerie’s House is based on a national model and helps children share, connect, and build bonds with other kids their age. The program uses a variety of art, music and journaling activities. The vision of Valerie’s House is that no child will grieve alone.

Valerie’s House Pensacola founder Crista Brandt, whose own mother died when she was 11 years old, said the new home will allow the organization to help many more grieving children in a warm and inviting environment.

“We are very grateful for The Chadbourne Foundation’s generosity and their belief in our mission,” Brandt said.  “This new home will be a game changer in how our community is able to help families heal after a death in their family and it is a dream come true for our families.”

Valerie’s House expanded into the panhandle in late 2020 with Brandt’s leadership and in less than two years, has helped more than 100 children and their families find connection and healing in one of their various peer support groups.

 “When I was 11, my mother lost her battle with cancer. I didn’t know anyone that had a parent die or understand what I was dealing with,” Brandt said. “I held in my pain and it made it much worse for my family.  It’s our mission to make sure no child ever has to grieve alone in our community.”

Valerie’s House Pensacola has been utilizing the Big Brothers Big Sisters building off Creighton Road since opening in 2021 but has quickly outgrown the space.

Brandt says Valerie’s House is looking forward to the opportunities the new house will bring in helping grieving children and families in the community.

“We know grieving families need to be together and to have a place where they know they can be themselves and heal without judgement,” Brandt said. “That’s exactly what this home will be for our families. We are excited for the future.”

If you would like to get involved with Valerie’s House Pensacola’s new location, including volunteering, decorating and room sponsorships, reach out to Crista Brandt at crista@valerieshouse.org.