Dear Friend,

Thank you. Gracias. Mèsi. Obrigada. 

None of these words are truly enough. Not a single one, or even all of them combined together, can possibly convey the gratitude I feel for the privilege and the blessing of these last 50 years.

When my fellow Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and I landed in Central Florida with our “hearts as wide as the world” we did not know what to expect. We only knew the mission of our order, to make known God’s goodness, and our desire to live our faith through action and love. What we found was a community hungry for belonging, ready for change, and full of joy, inspiration, and HOPE.

It started with getting to know our neighbors, children playing in our front yard, volunteering at the schools, and joining community meetings. We helped to build a clinic, affordable housing, the farmworkers association, and a credit union. We stood alongside individuals as they fought courageously and tenaciously for a food stamp office, paved roads, streetlights, water service, and regular trash pickups, the kinds of things most of us take for granted as part of living in a city or town we call home. 

It hasn’t always been easy. But with your continued support, your trust in us, and your faith in our work, we have helped change the landscape of Central Florida and, more importantly, we have helped to change thousands and thousands of lives. SO you can understand why “thank you,” “gracias,” “mèsi,” and “obrigada,” do not feel like enough.

As Hope and the communities we work with move into the next 50 years, we must look to a new generation of leaders to further our progress and move us forward. Enter Hope’s new Executive Director, Felipe Sousa-Lazaballet, a blessing who has come full circle. As a youth activist leader marching in the “Trail of Dreams” Felipe has the lived experience to continue the march for social justice, equity, and belonging that started 50 years ago in South Apopka with a small group of nuns in a little house at the end of a cul-de-sac on S. Central Ave.

With Sincere Gratitude,

Sister Ann Kendrick


Hello Friend,

I also believe that words of thanks are not enough to express the true sense of gratitude I feel to be a part of Hope. It is a privilege to wake up each day knowing the legacy that sustains us and the future that is unfolding before us.  I am inspired every day by the individuals I work with, the staff, the community, and the partners that walk arm-in-arm beside us, including you. You, as a donor, a volunteer, a sponsor, a supporter, or a friend, you make the difference. You make Hope possible.

I may still be new to my role as executive director, but I am no stranger to Hope. In 2010, I arrived at Hope’s doorstep with three other young activists. Hope was a necessary stop on our march, on foot from Miami to Washington, DC as we advocated for our own lives and for the lives of those who now benefit from Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). We knew about Hope and its legacy of love and belonging for everyone. So, we came and we stayed for two nights. And today my office is a few feet away from where I slept on the floor, a spot marked with a handwritten note by Sister Ann that reads simply: “Felipe slept here”. 

I learned three life lessons during that march: we must follow our hearts to fight for what we believe is right; the fight for justice takes courage, perseverance, and tenacity; and love must be at the center of everything we do. Perseverance, courage, tenacity, and love are in abundant supply when we stick together. This is why your belief in us and the trust you place in us with your support means so much. Our services address the concrete conditions of peoples’ lives. Our advocacy creates changes in those conditions. And none of it is possible without the love, faith, and support of the people who believe in us.

So, now, more than ever, we are counting on you to help us honor the legacy of the last 50 years and pave the way for 50 years more. Imagine if everyone receiving this letter would give a donation of at least $10. How transformational would that be? Please consider giving generously in any amount that feels right for you, so we can embrace the future with hope.

With Sincere Gratitude,

Felipe Sousa-Lazaballet

Executive Director

407-880-4673 xt 237

[email protected]

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