Presentations by Charities at the Annual Meeting

Philanthropy Co-Chair, Cheryl Gross, introduced the charity directors who each gave a presentation highlighting the positive impact that LWRWC support made in the lives of the people they serve.

Peggy Kerwin, Executive Director of Solve, shared that during the ten years that Solve has been a LWRWC Adopted Charity, LWRWC donated $100,000 to completely cover the cost of all the services for an expectant mother at Solve each year! Solve offers an oasis for pregnant women at-risk by providing safe housing, a structured program customized for each woman, and the tools needed to be successful in life. In her deeply moving remarks, Peggy described the trauma of being pregnant and homeless and how Solve becomes a family for those caught in the cycle of poverty, addiction, or abuse. Solve has been helping at-risk pregnant women and their precious babies for over 46 years and empowering them to become confident, capable parents, and thriving members of society. By meeting their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs, Solve is able to stop the cycle and positively impact future generations two lives at a time! Solve also offers the Evolve program for new mothers pursuing a higher education. In 2022, Solve welcomed 41 new expectant moms who safely delivered 32 healthy babies in 2022 and 6 healthy babies in Jan. 2023! Peggy urged us to check out three wonderful new Solve videos at

Rebecca Blitz, Executive Director of SMART, explained that SMART empowers lives through the healing power of horses and is dedicated to enhancing the physical, emotional, and cognitive growth of children and adults with special needs. Through therapeutic horse-related programs and activities, SMART riders and their families’ quality of life is significantly improved. Rebecca expanded SMART’S programs to serve more veterans with PTSD, sex trafficking victims, first responders, grieving hospice patient’s families, and Boys and Girls Clubs, as well as children with autism from “Beyond the Spectrum.” SMART recently adopted two adorable 27” tall mini horses, named Penelope and Rock, who serve as SMART “Ambassadors.” Candi Russell and Ilee Finocchiaro, the two remarkable, dedicated SMART volunteer riding instructors who accompanied Rebecca, also shared their deep love of SMART horses and their passion for helping people in need!

Kayla Terrel, Director of Development at Hope Family Services, accompanied by Deanna, a lovely, courageous mother of two and successful survivor of horrific domestic violence, poignantly illustrated how HOPE is in the business of saving lives and offers a safe place 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, for victims and survivors of domestic violence. Deanna, who is now a dynamic businesswoman and loving mother of two, was a likely target in fear for her life when she was rescued by HOPE. She credits HOPE Family Services with saving her life and says that she owes them everything! In addition to Emergency Safe Shelter, HOPE provides advocacy, counseling, children’s services, and parenting support. In 2022, HOPE helped over 1200 survivors. Throughout the pandemic, HOPE addressed the need of victims who were literally trapped with their abusers, to speak without saying a word by enabling them to simply text the word Survivor to 69922. HOPE is currently adding a children’s counseling center to help break the cycle of abuse and help children heal from trauma. Laurel Lynch, who served as HOPE’s CEO for many years, just retired and Char Young was selected as the new CEO.

The final speaker, Svetlana Ivashchenko, Executive Director, Children’s Guardian Fund, explained that CGF is dedicated to providing funding for the immediate and ongoing needs of children removed from abusive or neglectful homes in Florida’s 12th Judicial Circuit. CGF partners with the Guardian ad Litem program to meet emergency needs of 1200 children in foster and state care. CGF provides beds, cribs, summer camp and activities, academic tutoring, birthday and holiday gifts, clothing, and other essentials to enable normalcy and enrichment in the lives of children.