News and Events
WePromise is a grass-roots community based campaign to support Promise in Brevard. Our focus is to raise funds throughout the community through individuals, business, school and social organizations.
WEST MELBOURNE — Betsy Farmer — and her team of administrators and volunteers — are full of promises.
With a groundbreaking on Saturday of the Promise in Brevard Bakery & Cafe, they’re continuing to show those promises aren’t empty but yet another way of assisting local special needs young adults, giving them the opportunity to learn valuable skills that will help them with employment — and life.
The 7,100-square-foot bakery and cafe is scheduled to open next July and will employ at least 10 “Promisers,” the term Farmer — co-founder of Promise Brevard — uses for the people she’s dedicated her life to assisting. The eatery will be in the West Melbourne Community Park, next to the Space Coast Field of Dreams, a sports complex for special-needs athletes. There’s also an apartment complex under construction near Hammock Landings shopping center, a living space on the Promise campus for special need residents.
All combined, Farmer and her supporters hope West Melbourne will serve as a model for the rest of the country.
“Absolutely, positively,” said Farmer, who started Promise in Brevard in 2005. “It’s a model for not only the state but also the country, that this is what happens when a community wraps its arms around its population.”
The cost of the cafe and bakery is $1.7 million. An undisclosed donor has promised a dollar-for-dollar match of up to $500,000 for the project, Farmer said.
While Farmer is excited about the pace of development, it’s hard to believe she is more anxious than Matthew Strobel, a 30-year-old Promiser who is legally blind and bakes cookies at Promise Treasures Thrift Shoppe in the Metro West Shopping Plaza, 3040 West New Haven Ave., West Melbourne.
Now known as “the cookie man,” Strobel plans to use more of his culinary skills and start making breads, pies and desserts at the new facility.
“It gives me a chance to branch out and try my hand out on other things,” Strobel said. “I don’t want to be making cookies all my life.”
See the full article in Florida Today
Debi Malone with the Albert E. and Birdie W. Einstein Foundation presents $50,000 donation towards the Promise Cafe & Bakery.
Indiafest Brevard Committee presents a $70,000 check to Promise to purchase a much needed handicapped accessible van.
Promise in Brevard had it’s groundbreaking ceremony on November 9, 2015. You can see photos here.
You can view media mentions here:
WESH 2 News video
New housing complex will accommodate those with special needs
FLORIDA TODAY article
Promise in Brevard breaks ground
News 13 online article
Brevard group helping special needs adults breaks ground on new campus
2nd Annual Casino Night Gala to benefit Promise in Brevard
Sponsored by the Family & Friends of Promiser Mike Davis
Event date: Friday, October 16, 2015
6pm to 10pm
Location: Cocoa Elks Lodge #1532, 315 Florida Ave., Cocoa Village
Cost: In advance: $50 per person/$75 for two at the door: $65
Tickets available at Promise Treasures Thrift Shoppe
For more info contact Rose Davis (321)794-6245
Join us for casino games, silent auction, prizes, heavy hors d’oeuvres, 50/50 raffle, cash bar and more.
Great Taste of Suntree – Sponsored by the Suntree Rotary Club
Event Date: Saturday, October 17, 2015
Location: Suntree Country Club, 1 Country Club Drive, Melbourne
Cost: $30 – tickets available at Promise Treasures Thrift Shoppe or at the door
The Great Tastes at Suntree is the Suntree Rotary Foundation’s primary fundraising vehicle. The event features 30+ local restaurants and a chance to network with others in the Suntree community. Last year’s event set new records for the foundation in terms of both fundraising and participation, and they expect this year’s event to be even larger and better. Proceeds from this year’s Great Tastes at Suntree will go to three of Brevard children’s charities: The Boys & Girls Club, The Children’s Hunger Project of Brevard and Promise in Brevard.
Special thanks to the Boeing Employees Community Fund of Florida Space Coast for their $2500 investment in Promise U Life Enrichment Center!
The Florida Housing Finance Corporation announced a funding package Friday for Promise In Brevard.
Promise In Brevard has been awarded $15.8 million to construct an innovative residential campus for special-needs adults near the Hammock Landing shopping complex. The Florida Housing Finance Corporation announced the financial package this morning during a board meeting at Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport. Promise In Brevard owns 39 acres of property off Norfolk Parkway, just north of the Carmike West Melbourne 12 movie theater. The nonprofit plans to build a trio of three-story apartment buildings for 125 special-needs residents, along with a 13,000-square-foot clubhouse.
“Our prayers have been answered,” said Executive Director Betsy Farmer, who founded the group in 2005 with her son, Luke, who has Down syndrome.”It’s been a long nine years. But the timing is right, and we’re ready. We’re ready to get this show on the road,” Farmer said.
FHFC officials awarded $11.8 million in federal low-income housing tax credits for the project. The developer will raise capital for construction by selling these tax credits to private investors. Also, FHFC awarded a $3 million developmental-disability grant and $1 million from a state apartment-incentive loan program. Last December, the agency awarded similar packages to construct Arc Village in Jacksonville and Villages at Noah’s Landing in Lakeland for disabled people. Tuesday, the West Melbourne Planning and Zoning Board unanimously approved an 18-month extension for the project’s conceptual site plan. Farmer hopes to host a groundbreaking ceremony in July. In the future, the nonprofit hopes to start various on- and off-campus businesses to employ 80 to 90 percent of its special-needs residents. These include a hydroponic garden, plant nursery, farmers market, hair and nail salon, bed-and-breakfast, dog park and a café at the Field of Dreams sports complex.
Dreams begin to build soon as Gov. Scott kicks in $2M. And in a second, separately funded development on the Minton Road side of campus, Farmer hopes construction will start next year on a 9-acre townhome subdivision for parents and relatives who want to live near Promise In Brevard residents. “Nobody’s doing what we’re doing. Nobody that I know of in the country is doing a subdivision adjacent for the family members to live,” she said. Farmer said 275 people have filled out surveys expressing interest in living at the future West Melbourne campus. Projected average age of the residents: 29.
The nonprofit’s first business, Promise Treasures Thrift Shoppe, opened in October 2013 at Metro West Shopping Plaza. Eight special-needs workers are on the payroll, and more than 30 have received vocational training, Farmer said. More than 40 volunteers help staff the thrift store and accompanying café. The venture attracts about 1,500 customers per month and generated a better-than-expected $23,000 in gross income in October, Farmer said.
Promise In Brevard initially targeted Viera for a housing site. Later, a potential property in Palm Bay fell through before the organization chose West Melbourne. “It’s been a long and winding road, that’s for sure. But you know, God gave me this vision nine years ago when my son Luke told me that he wanted to move out and live on his own like his big brother, Josh, who’s a fire-medic with the county,” Farmer said. “I started looking around to see what was available for him — and all it was was group homes,” she said. “He’s been mainstreamed. He wants to be with friends and people, and have a life.”
Six Florida Institute of Technology students will live at the complex as housing assistants, Farmer said. She joked that, “for six and a half years, when I shared this vision with people, they thought I was nuts.” “My dream is to help other communities around the country do this. If we can do this in little West Melbourne, why can’t bigger cities do this too?”
Space Coast Business has announced Betsy Farmer of Promise in Brevard is the 2014 Business Leader of the Year: SOCIAL ENTREPRENEUR. You can read the article at Space Coast Business or see the article excerpt here | show / hide article.
2014 Business Leader of the Year: SOCIAL ENTREPRENEUR
Betsy Farmer firmly believes, “God can do anything with someone who is willing,” and she cites herself as the perfect example. It is that conviction, along with her passion to ensure that opportunity is available for others, which has propelled her for years. Today, if there was a contest for the most effective serial social entrepreneur in the region, she would certainly rise to the top of the list. In 1987, seeing the challenges of her own son with special needs, Luke, she launched the award-winning Space Coast Early Intervention Center to foster social, physical and developmental skills in preparation for school life.
As Luke grew older, Farmer realized that career options for her son were also limited and narrowly defined. Once again, she fought stereotypes and worked with the business community to expand the employment opportunities for individuals with special needs by establishing the Brevard Business Leadership Network. But perhaps her most ambitious project was aimed at providing Luke and others dealing with similar challenges with a positive and safe independent living environment. Promise In Brevard is a beautiful, groundbreaking, nearly 20-acre development specifically designed to provide a unique setting for individuals and their families and it soon will be breaking ground in Brevard.
“My goal for my son, and for others we serve, is to instill in them an ‘I can do it’ attitude.”
The promise is, “a place where young adults with special needs can live a life full of opportunities and freedom never thought possible.”
This is a fantastic article that recently appeared in Florida Today. Read the full text of the article on the Promise website right here. show / hide article
Promising Future for Promise in Brevard
Group’s vision is clear: build a place where special-needs adults and families can live and work on their own
Pick almost any weekend, and you can find Betsy Farmer at some sort of community event raising money for Promise in Brevard, a proposed housing complex for special-needs individuals and their families. “I can see the community rallying around this project,” said Farmer, the executive director and the mastermind of Promise in Brevard, which is designed to give special-needs adults a place where they can live and work integrated with the general public. That community support has helped Promise in Brevard, as well as Brevard Field of Dreams, the separate, but similar project to build a sport complex for special-needs children, continue to move forward. Both are slated to be built in West Melbourne. Combined, the two projects are poised to create a centerpiece in the city that, when complete, will set West Melbourne apart, city leaders say. “I think the community is truly excited about this,” West Melbourne Mayor Hal Rose said. “It’s a project that crosses all lines and all levels. I think everyone wants to be a part of it.”
Since Promise in Brevard began its fundraising last fall, dozens of businesses and groups have stepped up to lend support, raising money with raffles, bowl-a-thons, Zumba classes and other events. Among the biggest supporters has been Florida Tech, which will partner with Promise in Brevard. Students from the university will have the opportunity to live rent-free at Promise in Brevard in exchange for working at the complex as housing assistants. The students, however, didn’t wait for the construction to be complete before they started their work. The Florida Tech chapter of Delta Tau Delta fraternity, for example, adopted Promise in Brevard, providing physical labor and financial support at the non-profit’s events. And Florida Tech marketing students coordinated an online and campus campaign that helped Promise in Brevard win $10,000 from the Chase Community Giving competition on Facebook.
But the single largest contribution has come from West Melbourne, which agreed to give $75,000 in funding it received that can only be used for affordable housing to Promise in Brevard. “They are not just giving us cash, they are giving us an opportunity,” Farmer said. “They have this amazing vision of what’s going to be really great for their community. They want our kids to be an integral part of their community. “I love the fact they can see the big picture.”
The process hasn’t been all smooth sailing for Promise. When it was announced last year, the housing complex was to be built on the south side of Norfolk Parkway east of Minton Road. But the deal for 20 acres fell through, and Promise in Brevard was eventually outbid on that land, which was a part of an overall 62-acre parcel. But Farmer wasn’t deterred. She knew the property across the street was for sale and worked out a deal with its owner Don Facciobene, whose construction company will also build the complex. “This is where we are supposed to be,” she said. “Sometimes, things happen for a reason.” Promise in Brevard will pay $1.5 million for the 39 acres, however the purchase will be broken up into three transactions with Promise paying for $500,000 each third of the parcel, Farmer said.
Promise in Brevard has been approved for a $750,000 predevelopment loan from the Florida Housing and Finance Corporation, a portion of which will be used to purchase the first 11 acres where the housing complex will be built, she said. The housing complex is estimated to cost $13 million, but Farmer estimated Promise in Brevard will need about $2 million in additional fundraising to build the project without the need for it to take out a mortgage.
The organization, she said, will apply to the state for $9.75 million in low-income housing tax credits to finance a large portion of the cost. Those credits can be sold to corporations with the proceeds going to pay construction costs. Farmer is confident that the donations will come in, either little by little through the community fundraisers or by the “secret millionaire” that Farmer says, only half-jokingly, will come out of the blue to help the project. But what’s got Farmer excited about Promise in Brevard is that the residents who live there will soon be able to serve the community that supported them. A big part of the Promise in Brevard model is creating jobs for the future residents, of which only about 26 percent are employed. Among the businesses that will be housed at the complex are a hydroponic garden and nursery with produce being sold at a farmer’s market, a thrift store, a pet day care and a special needs-friendly bed and breakfast. All will be staffed by Promise in Brevard residents. “By the time we get this up and running, we expect to have about 80 to 90 percent of our residents working,” Farmer said. Instead of asking for donations, “We can tell the community come to our businesses. Come to the farmer’s market. Come have lunch. Support us that way.”
Promise Cafe and Bakery, another job component of Promise in Brevard, won’t be on the housing complex, but about a mile north on Minton Road at West Melbourne Community Park. The restaurant will provide culinary arts training for Promise in Brevard residents while providing concessions for the park. To the north of the cafe will be Brevard Field of Dreams, which, while more quietly, is making similar advances. The board of directors for the sports complex, which will sit on about five acres of an 18-acre city-owned park, recently approved the conceptual drawings of the future facility, board member Milo Zonka said. Zonka described the fundraising for the sports complex as “promising,” but said the non-profit group wasn’t able to discuss those details yet. Potential donors, he said, want to see the project move closer to being shovel-ready before publicly announcing any financial commitments. The support from West Melbourne to do “all of the stuff that is not exciting, but is absolutely necessary,” like drainage, water and sewer line connections, are key to getting the project ready to built, Zonka said. “They have committed again and again and again to get this thing through,” he said.
Written by Susanne Cervenka FLORIDA TODAY
We did it…
Promise won $10,000 from Chase Community Giving, from your efforts! We can’t thank you all enough for everything you didi to make it possible.
You can still see the video here.
Our Second Annual Scrub Jay 5K Run-Walk & Duathlon was a great success! Over 200 participants enjoyed the gorgeous course through the natural setting at the Chain of Lakes Park.
Thanks to all of our sponsors; Florida Today, All Service Graphics, The Avenue Viera, Dixie Crossroads, Gray Robinson, P.A., Parrish Medical Center, The Viera Company, Florida Institute of Technology, Health First, Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, Starkey Wealth Management Group, BrightHouse Networks, Seaside Piecemakers Quilt Club, Courtyard Marriott, Residence Inn – Melbourne, Quality Inn Kennedy Space Center, Pizza Gallery and Grill.
We’d also like to extend our sincere thanks to the Brevard County Sheriff’s Department and Titusville Police Department who did an awesome job keeping everyone safe while dozens of volunteers cheered on the racers all through both courses. Racers credited a great racing experience to their excellence!
Promise Co-Founder Luke Farmer receives $2,000 donation from Sam’s Club Melbourne Associates.
Special thanks to Sam’s Club Melbourne Manager Larry Cherry and Membership Manager Nick Mathews for making this donation possible.
Special thanks to the Boeing Employees Community Fund of Florida Space Coast for their $3000 investment in Promise!
Pictured above: Luke Farmer, Promise Co-Founder; Janet Rawlins, President of Boeing ECF; Betsy Farmer, Promise Co-Founder; and Marcy Solomon, ECF’s Corresponding Secretary.
Congratulations to Erin Schuck, (R) Winner of our iPad Raffle Fundraiser. Over 500 local Promise supporters donated their time and money to help Promise.
We owe many thanks to future Resident, Cecelia Rodriquez (above) and her mom Fran for donating the iPad, pulling the winning ticket, and helping raise over $3,000 for Promise! The drawing was held Thursday night at a Get Social Brevard event at BCC Planetarium in Cocoa, where Promise was the featured charity. We thank Erin for her contribution and hope she enjoys her new iPad as much as we enjoyed our night with our friends at Get Social Brevard.
2012 Economic Yearbook
Economic Indicators for Florida’s Space Coast
by Jerry Jackson
Promise Executive Director, Betsy Farmer has been named Florida Trends’ Top People to Watch in the Space Coast Area—April 2012. Betsy was highlighted as one of three individuals for her outstanding dedication toward making Promise a reality! Betsy along side Brig. Gen. Anthony Cotton, commander of the Air Force 45th Space Wing and director of the Eastern Range, and Mr. Mike Werner, the president of the Space Coast Economic Development Commission, and vice president of Knight’s Armament in Titusville, one of north Brevard’s largest manufacturers were recognized in the 2012 Economic Yearbook as “One of Florida Trends’ Top People To Watch.”
For additional information visit:
Florida Trends’ Top People to Watch
The West Melbourne Business Association presents the fundraiser, Bowling for Promise. Join us on August 25, 2012 at Shore Lanes Palm Bay, 4851 S Dairy Rd Palm Bay, Florida. It is $10 for 2 1/2 hours of bowling and that even includes shoes! For further information contact Donna Zurich at 321-412-0333. You can register online here…
Thirty Florida Tech football players will have a new lineup this St. Patrick’s Day – one that involves a little less tackling and a lot more rhythm.
An article recently appeared in Hometown News. You can read the complete article here.
Promise in Brevard, the proposed housing complex for individuals with and without special needs, has a home after six years of searching. Promise in Brevard executive director Betsy Farmer announced plans to purchase 20 acres on Norfolk Parkway in West Melbourne for the complex.
A wonderful article recently appeared in Florida Today. You can read the complete article here.
Betsy Farmer is in the Space Coast Business 100 Most Powerful People on the Space Coast. You can see the article on the Space Coast Business web site here.
Space Coast Living magazine recently featured an article on Promise. It is entitled "A Mother’s Promise", and you can download the pdf and read the article here.
Check out the article about Promise in Florida Today … Space Coast Special Needs Proposal Gains Speed | floridatoday.com | FLORIDA TODAY … With every dollar raised, Betsy Farmer’s dream of a special facility for people with special needs moves closer to reality. You can read the article here.
Yes! Promise in Brevard is on Facebook. We would love for you to JOIN us for the latest in news and announcements. You can go straight to our Facebook page here.
Our website features concept artwork and floor plans of Promise, as well as our preliminary site plan that illustrates the locations of planned amenities.
The plans can be found on our See It! page, and you can get there by following this link. Selecting the images will open larger versions that will give you the opportunity to zoom in and take a closer look. You must have Acrobat Reader to view the enlarged images. If you do not have it, you can download it free from here.
Your feedback is very valuable as we design Promise. If you have comments or requests about the designs, feel free to contact us at info@PromiseinBrevard.com.