TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — At a roundtable held at Leon Regional Juvenile Detention Center on Wednesday, First Lady Casey DeSantis announced the expansion of Hope Florida, a program designed to get people on a pathway to prosperity and economic self-sufficiency.
DeSantis launched the initial phase of Hope Florida in 2019, with the Prosperity and Economic Sufficiency Initiative, which centers around “Hope Navigators” whose job it is to find community resources available beyond government that could help families in need.
SUPPORT, MENTOR AND PROVIDE SERVICES
The First Lady is now expanding Hope Florida to include the Pathway to Potential Initiative, which is operated by the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) and includes 40 Hope Navigators who support, mentor and provide services to youth and families in need.
“The whole goal of the Pathway to Potential Initiative is to try to prevent kids from ever winding up in a place like this [Leon Regional Juvenile Detention Center],” Casey DeSantis began.
She explained that Pathway to Potential uses the Hope Navigator model to assist kids who are at risk, whether they be struggling at home, with substance abuse, or forming negative relationships. The Hope Navigators are subject matter experts within the Department of Juvenile Justice who can help triage the situation, provide an outlet to parents and impart struggling children with mentorship and guidance.
MENTORSHIP IS KEY, ATTENDEES AGREE
“I hear the same thing over and over as to how these kids turned their lives around. It's essentially one thing: mentorship. It’s someone who took interest in their lives and gave them value, meaning and hope so that they could succeed,” the First Lady stated.
Sen. Corey Simon (R-Dixie etc.) thanked DeSantis for her leadership and the expansion of this program: “I think one of the most important things I’ve done in my career is mentorship…. It’s how we make the impact. It’s being on the ground floor with these young people and trying to find the place where they fit in. And that’s what this program does.”
“We are here for you and we are going to see you through this and you are going to become a success,” Department of Children and Families Secretary Shevaun Harris said.
There are numerous ways to get involved in Hope Florida — Pathway to Potential whether it be as a mentor or someone who needs assistance, including calling the Hope Line (850-300-HOPE).
“You can have the best programs and resources in the world but if people don’t know they exist, then what good are they? We’re trying to put the pieces together by utilizing government in a meaningful but limited way, then getting out of the way and letting people live up to their God-given potential,” the First Lady concluded.