Hope is a word everyone appreciates. And it’s embraced by Brenda Melton, founder of the Hope Lives Here initiative, which has left a distinct footprint across Naples via bright yellow ribbons. Hope Lives Here serves multiple functions, including promoting awareness of veterans’ needs; signaling solidarity within the community; and raising funds through the sale of yellow ribbons to support the Baker Senior Center Naples, to which 100 percent of the proceeds are donated. The idea for the endeavor started in Melton’s childhood. “I had an Air Force father,” Melton recounts, and inspired by Tony Orlando and Dawn’s hit 1973 song—“Tie a Yellow Ribbon ’Round the Ole Oak Tree”—her family displayed a yellow ribbon in their yard to support deployed soldiers.
“The yellow ribbon has always signified solidarity in the veterans’ community,” explains Melton, “and between the hurricane striking and the constant need to raise awareness for veterans, I thought it was a good opportunity to bring [them] out again.”
Ribbons can be purchased for $100 to support Hope Lives Here’s goal of raising $100,000 in 2023; these are fitting numbers since Naples is celebrating its centennial this year. “We’ve raised $60,000 so far, and it’s unbelievable,” Melton reports, giving special thanks to Fifth Avenue South and The Wellington Group for their respective $10,000 donations.