The name starts with Hope, but the event had a lot to say about love. Some 550 people turned out on Valentine's Day for the second annual Hope Hospice benefit ball, helping to add more stones to the foundation of the group's first Bonita Springs hospice house.
Dining among roses and strewn petals at the
Hyatt Regency, Coconut Point, $300-a-ticket
supporters bid on items as diverse as heirloom
pearls and a Gem Car, the four-seat Chrysler
hybrid car for navigating neighborhoods.
"Everybody was sitting in it because everyone
wanted it," said Samira Beckwith, president
and CEO of the organization, laughing.
"We could have charged people just to pose
for pictures in it."
Groundbreaking for a hospice house is
scheduled for this month. A $5 million capital
campaign has passed the $1.5 million mark,
according to Beckwith.
"We've been in existence 20 years and cared
for people in Bonita Springs that many years. We serve people in Lee, Hendry and Glades
counties, and our goal has always been to
build here. When our first hospice house went
in in Fort Myers in 1995, we already knew our
third one would be in Bonita Springs."
Currently the organization operates a 16-
bed house in Fort Myers Health Park and a
36-bed house in Cape Coral. The Bonita Springs house will hold 24 patients with terminal
illnesses, and will be named for the late
Joanne Dallepezze, a Bonita Springs woman
who had Hope Hospice care before her death.
Her husband, John Dallepezze; son, Peter;
and daughter, Christy, offered the lead gift to
start the campaign for Bonita, Beckwith said.
Their generosity was echoed in the Hearts of
Hope Gala Feb. 14, for which cochairs Donna
Roberts and Etta Smith produced some
"I've been to a lot of events over years but
for this one people were very generous and
made it a great time. The bidding was very
lively and a lot of fun," Beckwith said.
Attendees were especially intent on getting
the Gem Car, but also bid heavily on a double
strand of pearls with special meaning. The
pearls had been donated by a hospice patient
close to death who wanted to support the new
"This was so nice - a really beautiful gesture.
There was family she could have given
them to, but she chose to help with this,"