With the help of corporate donations, volunteers and staff, we’re making progressive changes that ultimately will have a positive effect on our students, families and working environment. As part of RED Day, an annual event dedicated to improving local communities, more than 50 employees from Keller Williams Atlantic Properties donated their time and efforts to give Hope Haven a renewed and energized lobby in the Skinner Building. Featuring bright colors, artwork and refreshed fabrics, it received an uplifting renovation. The team also transformed one of our larger offices into a comfortable and functional “welcome room” for clients, donors and employees. And, at the same time, our grounds and facilities received a much-needed cleanup— from playground equipment to squeaky clean windows and fixture updates. Keller Williams also supports our monthly birthday and holiday parties for our students and orchestrate a back-to-school drive August.


  • The University of Phoenix donated new furniture for our multi-purpose spaces and tutoring areas.
  • New laptops and interactive smart boards have been installed to enhance our student’s learning opportunities.
  • A more streamlined website update is in progress to allow for future online scheduling, online payment capabilities and statementing.
  • An on-site employment services lab is under development to help eligible students prepare for internships in the workplace.
  • Procurement of a 15-seat passenger van will help provide transportation for our summer camp

Hope Haven Helping to Draw Attention to Families Facing an Autism Diagnosis

Hope Haven Helping to Draw Attention to Families Facing an Autism Diagnosis

April is National Autism Awareness Month and what a great opportunity to not only promote autism awareness but autism acceptance and to draw attention to the tens of thousands facing an autism diagnosis each year.

In Jacksonville, FL, Hope Haven, one of the community’s leading nonprofit providers of specialized services for children and their families, serves more than 5,000 families each year.

Many families come to Hope Haven exclusively for education and or therapy-related services to help gain a sense of comfort, confidence, and enrichment. Options include the Hope Haven’s Discovery School for preschool, kindergarten and lower elementary students, and  Speech-Language, Occupational and Physical Therapy.

At the Discovery School, a team of highly qualified teachers and professionals provide children with an engaging, inclusive environment to learn, discover and thrive among a diverse group of students.

Renee and her son Liam are just one of the thousands of families who have have been a recipient of some of these services. Liam, age five, is in the kindergarten class at the Discovery School. Liam was diagnosed at an early age with moderate to severe autism. Renee discovered Hope Haven during the 2016-2017 school year after months of searching for summer camps focused on serving children with special needs.

Before Hope Haven, Liam was enrolled in the ESE program at a Duval County Public School. Having attended the summer camp at Hope Haven and learning about the Discovery School, Renee saw an opportunity to make the switch to private school. So far, the experience has been life-changing.

“The staff have been extremely flexible to meet the needs of our family. After completing a background check, they gave us and our outside ABA therapy to come onsite 4-5 days out to help him with behavioral issues. His therapists can pull him out of class, or point out things going on in class which allows the teachers to continue with the curriculum. While Liam is onsite, he can do his speech and occupational therapy with Hope Haven therapists as well. This has given both myself and Liam comfort and consistency staying at Hope Haven giving him in-house resources,” stated Renee.

“Since Liam has been at Hope Haven, we have seen major improvements. He’s potty trained, his speech is improving, behavioral issues are being fixed, and overall, Liam is flourishing. At five years of age, he can label every state on the map, including many other countries. He is thriving with addition and subtraction (100% thanks to his teachers) and has fallen in love with science where he can label all the planets in our solar system and even tell you the different clouds depending on the weather.”

Renee and her family couldn’t have had this opportunity without the financial assistance they received thanks to the Gardner Scholarship offered through Hope Haven. The scholarship covers Liam’s tuition, therapies, and other costs associated with their needs. Financial contributions are essential to helping more families like Renee and Liam find hope and transformation. All tax-deductible donations allow Hope Haven to serve under-resourced families on a sliding fee scale basis, by creating a fund that will offset their costs in accordance with their ability to pay.  

If you’re a family looking for hope, there are many great resources available if you have children or adults with special needs. Parents with preschool or kindergarten age students can also consider enrolling them in the Discovery School. For further information, parents can contact Hope Haven at or call (904) 346-5100 to talk about starting their child’s educational journey.



JACKSONVILLE, Fl. – Jacksonville University is hosting the World’s Largest Water Balloon Fight in hopes to win the Guinness World Record for the community. On March 3, 2018, over 150,000 water balloons will be loaded and ready for battle.

There is a one dollar entry to participate in the event, and all proceeds will be benefiting Hope Haven, a Children’s Clinic and Family Center.

Check-in will begin at 9:00 AM and the event will start at 11:30 AM. This family-friendly event will also have food trucks, live music, and additional entertainment.

Be a part of winning a World Record for your community and supporting a local non-profit that helps provide many services to families with special needs. To register in advance, visit

The University of Kentucky currently holds this record with 8,957 participants, achieved on August 27, 2011.

Hope Haven Names New Chief Executive Officer

Hope Haven Names New Chief Executive Officer

Hope Haven, one of Northeast Florida’s leading nonprofit providers of specialized services for children and their families, announced today that its Board of Directors has selected Stella E. Johnson as the organization’s new Chief Executive Officer.

Ms. Johnson currently serves as the Executive Director of the Family Nurturing Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the needs of children and families in crisis in North Florida. She will assume her new role with Hope Haven on September 18, 2017.

Hope Haven Board Chair, Dr. Nichelle D. Stone, MBA, EdD, commented, “We are thrilled to welcome Stella to Hope Haven. Through the course of her successful career, Stella has proven to be a visionary leader with expertise in strengthening and growing nonprofit associations. Stella has significant experience in fundraising and donor development, collaborating with community partners, working with board directors, managing budgets, optimizing programs, and leading change management and business systems improvement. Hope Haven will benefit from Stella’s thoughtful, inclusive, and collaborative approach in working with all stakeholders for the betterment of the organization and its clients.”

“I am very honored and excited by this opportunity to lead Hope Haven in its next stage of growth as a premier provider of services in our community,” said Ms. Johnson. “I’ve been dedicated to youth and family services for my entire career and am passionate about delivering high quality programs that make a positive difference for local children and families. I have lived in the Jacksonville area for more than 30 years, have established deep local connections, and am committed to the success of this community.”

“My initial priority will be getting to know client families, staff, community partners, funders, and volunteers. Over the coming year, I look forward to working with the dedicated Hope Haven staff to evaluate and enhance our services, expand the fund development program, engage with other organizations in collaborative efforts, and increase our recognition, regionally and nationally, as experts in our field. Most importantly, I’d like to help advance an organizational culture that supports staff in capitalizing on their strengths and interests as we improve the lives of those we serve.”

Ms. Johnson joins Hope Haven with an extensive background working with children and families in Florida. She was with the Family Nurturing Center for 10 years, including serving as the Executive Director for the last eight years. She has provided consultation services and program development for foster care, delinquency, and similar programs serving at-risk youth and families. Previously, she served as Program Services Director for the Capital City Youth Services in Tallahassee and Program Coordinator for the Youth Crisis Center in Jacksonville. Ms. Johnson has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of North Florida.


Following the departure of Hope Haven’s previous CEO in March 2017, Hope Haven’s Board of Directors appointed a search committee to conduct a thorough process to identify a successor. The search committee received input on the process, role, and potential candidates from a broad cross-section of staff, client families, donors, partners, and community members. Working with Peoplr, a top recruiting and executive search firm based in Jacksonville, more than 250 candidates were identified and screened during the process, culminating in the Board’s unanimous selection of Ms. Johnson as the next CEO.

Hope Haven Helping Families Take Control Of Their Mental Health

Millions of Americans are affected by Mental Health each year. It is estimated that 1 in 5 adults in the U.S.—43.8 million, or 18.5%—experiences mental illness in a given year.1

A rising problem occurring in the US is now being seen in mental health for children and teens. It is estimated 20% of youth ages 13-18 live a with mental health condition.1

Hope Haven’s mission is to ensure that children and families realize their full potential by providing specialized services and individualized educational opportunities.

Keeping to their promise, Hope Haven provides a variety of Mental Health Services to help children and families be more independent, educated and engaged in community life.

Licensed Mental Health Counselors provide an initial intake session in order to understand the presenting problem, identify the child’s strengths, and develop a plan for treatment and support.   Counselors seek to eliminate risk factors that may be present and to build and enhance protective factors.  Providing supports to the children and families early can often prevent the development of larger behavioral health issues later in life.

On the rise at Hope Haven are infant mental health cases.  We have found that early intervention for children and caregivers is key.

“Infant Mental Health considers emotional, social, and relational development during the ages of birth to age 5,” according to Emily Foltz-Holland, Director of Clinical Services at Hope Haven.

The focus is on building capacity for a secure relationship with a primary caretaker and growing/enhancing a baby’s ability for emotional regulation. Work is done jointly with the caretaker and the baby to ensure positive development for the baby, as brain development can be affected by stress, environmental factors, and relationships. It has been estimated that more than a million neural connections are formed in the brain each second during early development. Thus, infancy is a critical time to ensure loving, caring, stable relationships are present and to provide experiences that build emotional regulation to prevent mental health issues later in life.

Hope Haven is proud to have trained, qualified Licensed Mental Health Counselors who have clinical competency in the area of infant mental health.

Hope Haven also provides community outreach support to students and teachers in the greater Jacksonville area. Hope Haven finds value in providing services on site in a school setting, which eliminates the barriers of transportation and insurance.    Examples of partnerships with schools include The Guardian Schools, the Tiger Academy, and the Jewish Community Alliance.  Counselors are able to build social-emotional skills in the classroom setting and in small groups, ultimately building emotional wellness.

Hope Haven’s goal is to help break the stigma of Mental Health and bring awareness to the city of Jacksonville about their programs and services.

Hope Haven’s Tutoring Services Showing Signs of Renewal for Children and Families

Hope Haven’s Tutoring Services Showing Signs of Renewal for Children and Families

Learning can be challenging for any student, let alone students with specific learning disabilities.

Since 1970, Hope Haven has been assisting families with educational programs designed as inclusive learning opportunities for all ages – from children to young adults. “We have been tutoring since the 70’s. Dr. Skinner started the tutoring labs in the old hospital realizing some children learned differently. This is when specific disabilities began being recognized and diagnosed,” according to Hope Haven’s Historian, Barbara Brutschy.

Hope Haven offers a wide range of affordable tutoring services for every type of learner, from elementary to high school students. Whether your student needs specific help in a core subject or test prep, Hope Haven is here to help them achieve their very best.

Annie has been bringing her son Nick (age 13) to Hope Haven for the last seven consecutive years.

By the time Nick had entered Kindergarten, he had already been diagnosed with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). By the second grade, Annie had noticed that her son was still having difficulties in school. Hearing about Hope Haven’s evaluations, Nick was brought in and diagnosed with Dyslexia. After her son’s new diagnosis, they began a specific tutoring program designed for his unique style of learning.

“As much as you don’t want to hear that your child has a certain struggle, Hope Haven made this process easier from the diagnosis, tutoring, and knowledgeable professionals. The staff and programs here have given Nick confidence to push through the challenges and have allowed him to have a more positive outlook,” stated Annie.

Nick and his tutor, Mary Ann, have been meeting ever since they walked in for the evaluation. Meeting just one – two times a week for an hour at a time, Nick has made incredible strides of growth in his ability to learn using the Barton Method.

Nick attends La Villa Middle School where, thanks to the committed staff of educational professionals, he excels in and out of class, playing percussionists in the school band, hanging out with friends, and performing for others.

“Hope Haven has given our family confidence. If anyone thinks something is off with their child, I would definitely recommend going to Hope Haven for an Evaluation,” Annie stated.

Again, Hope Haven’s educational programs are designed for any type of learner and age.

If your child is struggling in the areas of English, Language Arts, and Math, Hope Haven will be hosting their annual FSA Boot Camp March 20-24th (Duval County Spring Break).

“This five-day boot camp is designed to review skills in the areas of English, Language Arts, and Math,” according to Robin Pierce, Tutoring Program Manager at Hope Haven.

The FSA Boot Camp will run from 9:00-4:00 PM and is open to all 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th-grade students. The cost is only $250.00.
For more information regarding this upcoming boot camp, you can reach Robin Pierce directly by phone at 904-346-5100 ext. 259 or by email at