House of Hope Panel Explores Link Between Poverty and Health

Posted on October 1, 2021

September Panel Discussion Now Available on YouTube

STUART, Fla. – Leaders from several nonprofit organizations came together on Friday, September 24, at the Council on Aging’s Kane Center to explore the questions of how poverty and health are interrelated in the lives of Treasure Coast residents and what challenges that relationship presents to the community.

The panel discussion “At the Crossroads of Poverty and Health” was sponsored by House of Hope, with panel participants Rob Ranieri, CEO of House of Hope; Karen Ripper, CEO of Council on Aging/Kane Center; Samantha Suffich, CEO of the Martin County Healthy Start Coalition; and Mary Beth Pena, Nurse Program Specialist and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist for Florida Department of Health in Martin County.

Moderator Pat Austin posed a situation to each of the panelists about real life experiences of people who find themselves with limited financial resources. The panelists explored how these individuals could get services in the community but also how their immediate problems were quickly compounded.

“We have all had experiences within our organizations that led us to conclude that poverty often leads to poor health,” said Ranieri, “and that poor health often limits a person’s ability to build financial resources. It can become a ruthless cycle. Numerous studies support these conclusions. It is up to us in our own community to find solutions.”

The panelists tackled topics such as access to care, collaboration among nonprofit agencies, and opportunities to improve both the economic status and health status of the people they serve.

Both the panelists and the attendees agreed that the questions are worth pursuing from other aspects, such as education, mental health, jobs, living wage, and policy decisions. Future panels are being considered to further inform the community and involve more agencies and individuals in driving improvement.

The September panel discussion is available for viewing on our website at: or on our YouTube channel at: At the Crossroads of Poverty and Health Panel Discussion - YouTube.


About House of Hope

Founded in 1984, House of Hope is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers Martin County residents to overcome hunger and hardship. House of Hope touches the lives of more than 7,000 people each month helping with basic needs such as food, clothing, furniture, financial assistance, as well as longer-term case management services that help build life skills for a more self-sufficient future. 

The organization has service centers and thrift stores in Stuart, Hobe Sound, Indiantown, and Jensen Beach. House of Hope’s Golden Gate Center for Enrichment in Stuart offers free programs, technology, and workshops designed to enhance life skills, earning potential, health, and overall well-being.

House of Hope also operates the Growing Hope Farm in Palm City and several nutrition gardens that provide sustainable sources of fresh produce for clients as well as nutrition education and vocational opportunities to the community. For more information, visit or call 772-286-4673. Updates and announcements can also be found on Facebook, Instagram Instagram, and Twitter.

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