Our Mission & Vision

It is the mission of Hope Grows to inspire hope through nature while empowering caregivers to seek wellness of mind, body, and spirit.  Our staff and network of volunteers seek to put an end to caregiver death and be the organization caregivers trust and turn to receive personalized assistance, therapeutic services, and resources at any point in their journey regardless of their financial means.

To enable this to happen there are people and teams all across the nation pushing this common mission & vision. All this requires time, investment and application as we strive to plant hope, one seed at a time.  All this requires seasons of cultivating, tending to, and as we strive to plant hope, one seed at a time.

Who We Are

Nature is unpredictable at times, so is the process of providing care for someone. We at Hope Grows provide an environment that empowers the caregiver to tell their story, engage in short breaks (respite), and participate in counseling and support as necessary. In using a positive, holistic, and mindful approach focused around the healing benefits of nature, the path in maintaining quality of life can be experienced. Attending to the identity of the caregiver while in the midst of the increasing demands they provide is our goal in helping the caregiver to manage the physical, psychological and spiritual stress associated with the role of providing care.

Who is the Caregiver?

A family caregiver is anyone providing a wide range of unpaid care to dependent children, spouses, parents, siblings, relatives, friends, or neighbors. Responsibilities can include, but not limited to personal care, physical help, emotional/social/behavioral support, assistance with activities of daily living, assistance accessing services, and financial help.

Caregivers assume responsibility for providing care for someone. The role starts with picking up meds for mom or taking dad to the doctor and as the demands increase, so does the physical and emotional stress. Caregivers often do not identify as a ‘caregiver’ in the early onset of the role. However, juggling work/family schedules, experiencing increased responsibilities of providing care, having limited time for self, and lack of finances for replacement care begins to wreak havoc on mind, body, and spirit of the caregiver.

Just like gardeners, no two caregivers are alike. Some flourish in the spring, some flourish in the fall. Whatever season you garden, Hope Grows has a program that is right for you. Our overarching goal is to help the caregiver till their own soil so that they grow and bloom in the way that works for them.

Our Team

LISA STORY
LISA STORYFounder & Executive Director
Lisa discovered a lack of support for caregivers in the Pittsburgh area following the death of her father. As an avid gardener, her belief in the restorative power of planting led her to found Hope Grows. Read More about Lisa’s Story.
Discover Lisa’s Story Here
Board Members Position
Kendra White, MS, MCHES

Manager, Community Relations
UPMC for Life UPMC Health Plan

Kendra White has diverse experiences in health care, gerontology, and long-term care. Kendra has a Master’s in Administration of Aging Organizations and Gerontology and for the past 15 years has worked in various capacities in the community and with older adults promoting health and wellness.

President
Cassandra Boody

PNC Financial Services

Corporate Banking Senior Associate

Cassandra Boody is a Senior Associate Relationship Manager with Pittsburgh National Corporation and serves as the main support to the Pittsburgh Corporate Finance Relationship Manager with a portfolio creating more than $31 Million in Revenues with over $1 Billion in exposure.

Vice-President
Melissa Pugne

Tax Manager, Sisterson & Co LLP

Melissa has been with Sisterson for 10 years. Her experience includes tax return review and tax planning for S corporations, C corporations, partnerships, and not-for-profit organizations. Melissa has a Master in Taxation degree from Robert Morris University.

Treasurer
Gaylyn Frosini

Manager, Environmental Services, FedEx Ground

Gaylyn manages regulatory affairs for FedEx and its subsidiaries. She prepares and manages a $5M budget and approximately 600 FedEx facilities throughout the US and Canada. Gaylyn has a Master of Environmental Management degree from Duquesne University.

Secretary
Mary Evrard

Community/Communications Coordinator, Allegheny County Department of Human Services, Office of Developmental Supports

Mary’s key responsibilities include developing, implementing and participating in community opportunities that serve as a connector for education, collaboration, and resources to families, caregivers and professionals. She has many years of experience through professional memberships and expertise with communities in transition. Her diverse leadership certificate in Strengths-based Family Workers through Temple University serves the community with ongoing assistance.

Board Member
Marc Felezzola, Attorney at Law

Babst, Calland, Clements & Zomnir, P.C.

Marc is an associate in the Litigation and Construction Services Groups of Babst Calland with extensive experience in cases involving Pennsylvania’s Mechanics’ Lien Law, Commonwealth Procurement Code, and the Contractor and Subcontractor Payment Act. Marc has litigated before the Pennsylvania trial level and appellate courts, the United States Federal District Courts for the Western District of Pennsylvania, the Northern District of West Virginia and the District of New Jersey, the American Arbitration Association, and other private dispute resolution forums.

Board Member
Mary Jo Geyer

Retired Manager and Supervisor, Alcoa

Mary Jo is a former supply chain professional with extensive experience and proven ability to handle all phases of International Supply Chain Management and Compliance. She has many years of knowledge and expertise with regulations, compliance and marketing. Mary Jo has been a family caregiver and has experience as an adjunct professor, board member and member of a diverse employee resource group at Alcoa.

Board Member
Teresa Heyer

Business Owner, Optimal Organizing, LLC

Teresa has 30+ years of experience in education utilizing her Language Arts and ESL certifications, paraprofessional, office management and business and marketing, both in the corporate and small business settings. A volunteer at heart, Teresa has been a caregiver of disabilities and dementia, as well as, providing services within various youth programs and church organizations. church service and youth programs.

Board Member
Kathy Kulka

Research Specialist 4, University of Pittsburgh

Kathy Kulka is a Research Specialist 4 working in the Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology with the University of Pittsburgh. She has many years of experience as a caregiver and has been an active fundraiser for various grassroots organizations for the past twenty years.

Board Member

Why the Almond Blossom?

The almond tree is deeply rooted in symbolism through history and legend. While the fruit of its labor provides nutrition, the spread of its seed connected cultures through population expansion as well as mythical and biblical symbolism and its use through literature and the arts. The almond tree is the first to blossom in the spring before other trees and the almond has amazing nutritional value.

The Hope Grows logo is rooted deeply in symbolism, not only for the meaning of the flower but what it represents. While the idea for Hope Grows originated from a dream from the founder’s late father, it was not until a florigrapher informed our founder of the chosen flower’s meaning. Lisa discovered during a workshop that the flower for her late father’s birthday represents hope. The dream and the idea for the organization and its mission then came full circle.

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