Ignite for Ocala

03/01/2022 12:59 AM By Lisa Anderson
Jeanne Henningsen
Jeanne Henningsen, Submitted Photo
Christie Casey, Photo by Lisa Anderson
Kathryn Beecher, Submitted Photo
Story Sponsored by Lisa Anderson Media, LLC

Ignite for Ocala: Benefit for Project Hope

I want you to close your eyes for a minute and image a time when you were in your darkest moment. Whom did you reach out to for help? What if that help wasn’t available to you?

Now, imagine if that darkest moment was a situation of violence, and the help you reached for had to turn you away because they didn’t have enough room. “Shortly after moving here in 2012, I found out the local domestic violence shelter turned away women and children on a regular basis. It was like 35 to 70 women and children per month were being turned away, because they didn’t have room,” explains Ignite for Ocala founder and Monarch Leadership Group owner Jeanne Henningsen.

“I just decided that was unacceptable. In my first marriage, I experienced domestic violence, but I was educated, I had a full-time job, and I had family. I had a place to go, and I could support myself. For me, it was an easy decision. For a lot of women, it’s not that easy of a decision.”

Sparking the Movement

Jeanne spoke with the shelter and discovered they had no funds and no one focusing on fundraising. She put together a group of women who had similar experiences as her own and/or believed in the cause. The women hosted a luncheon and raised $15,000—surpassing their goal of $10,000—and the movement was born. 

Ignite for Ocala is not a nonprofit, and they don’t write grants. It’s a group of women who believe in helping nonprofits in the community. Their money, for tax purposes, goes through their funding partner Community Foundation. The group, which has helped other organizations, including Kimberly’s Center for Child Protection ($40k donated), Boys and Girls Club of Marion County, Wear Gloves, and Marion County Children’s Alliance, now has an application process for nonprofit organizations to apply, which can be accessed through their website. It opens in May.

Their events have been very successful and part of it is because they believe in educating their sponsors about the charities and programs they are sponsoring. “What is important to [us] is that we’re a vessel to promote the organization,” says Ignite for Ocala Chair and realtor Christie Casey. “[We want] to be able to create the awareness that this is real, and they do need our help. It’s not just about giving money; it’s about giving your time and your talent to help them.”

Project Hope

Jeanne, Christie, and Kathryn Beecher, CFO/CAO of Hospice of Marion County and Ignite for Ocala co-chair are focusing this year’s fundraising efforts on Project Hope, whose mission is to help homeless women and children become self-sufficient—a mission that truly aligns with Ignite’s undertaking to create a safe and loving community.

“We place homeless families in fully appointed, two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartments with kitchens, appliances, new mattresses, cribs for babies and more. The families avoid the stigma of living in a shelter as our transitional apartments are located within our Hope Villas apartment complex,” states the Project Hope website.

It goes on to say, “We provide comprehensive services including counseling, financial skill development, and trauma recovery services.  We employ an on-site, experienced case manager and outsource licensed mental health counseling, as necessary.  We also work with a vast network of community organizations that provide services to help meet each family’s individual needs for health, dental, and educational needs.”

Luncheon & Silent Auction

March 10, 2022

11:30am – 1:00pm

Sponsor a Table

Project Hope

Story Sponsored by Lisa Anderson Media, LLC