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A Success Story for Thousands of Children, Parents and Job Seekers

The Better Together story began in 2015, when Megan Rose took the helm of a Chicago-based nonprofit model and started it the Southwest Florida community. After 10 years of working in the Florida child welfare system, she brought real-world experience and a heartfelt desire to prevent child abuse and neglect with an alternative to foster care.

Megan modified the program model, shifting from a state-funded approach to one that is 100% privately funded. As a result, she was able to inspire volunteerism at new levels and assure families that their children wouldn’t be taken away just because they needed help.

Soon, she recognized that what at-risk parents need most is jobs. So, Better Together began the Better Jobs program, partnering  with churches and employers to restore people’s income and dignity. Thus, Better Together families and many others in the community have overcome significant barriers to employment and become self-sufficient, thriving members of society.

Since its inception, Better Together has provided temporary homes to more than 3,102 Southwest Florida children. And they are successfully helping parents who wish to keep their families together. They have also helped more than 34,000 Job Seekers find employment in 12 different states.

“We’ve innovated, grown and perfected our own model, learning what really works,” said Megan. “Now, we want to take what we’re doing with Better Families to all of Florida. And we plan to continue expanding Better Jobs by partnering with hundreds of churches across the country.”

To learn more about our impact, check out our most recent Annual Report.

One Mission, Two Programs

Together, Better Families and Better Jobs provide a powerful platform for people who are ready to enact positive change. They are 100% privately funded and community driven, implemented by faith-based organizations and a caring volunteer force.

Learn more about each of these highly successful programs:

OUR FINANCIALS

Every dollar counts. When you donate to a nonprofit, you want to know your money is being used effectively and efficiently. Transparency and accountability are important to us, too. We work hard to make every dollar count, and we’re happy to share our financial forms, audits and reports with you here.

Meet the Better Together Board

Generosity underpins everything Better Together accomplishes on a daily basis. In addition to the hands-on volunteers in the field, we have an exceptional board of directors. These leaders lend a diverse array of knowledge and expertise. They graciously walk alongside and support the Better Together team!

TARREN BRAGDON

Founder and Board President

DOUG CAMPBELL

Board Director

LEE WYATT, JR.

Board Director

DR. ALISE G. BARTLEY

Board Director

Christian Spilker Board Director

Christian Spilker

Board Director

Lee County Community Advisory Board

Amy West

Amy West

Managing Director of Truist Wealth

Bess Charles

Owner of LadyCakes Bakery, LLC

Bryan Blackwell Better Together Board Member

Bryan Blackwell

Managing Partner of Southern Oak Wealth Management

Chad Hodges Better Together Board Member.jpg

Chadd Hodges

Owner of Best Home Services

Corey Demmel Better Together Board Member

Cory Demmel

Pastor of Cape Christian Church

Josh Dorcey

Managing Partner of The Dorcey Law Firm, PLC

Better Together Board Member

Michael Deluca

Principal-in-Charge of HBK CPAs & Consultants in Southwest Florida

Teri Hansen Better Together Board Member

Teri Hansen

President & Creative Director of Priority Marketing

Better Together Board
Doug Campbell
Board Director

Doug Campbell’s life is now consumed by trying, through Better Together to keep families together and kids out of foster care and, through Friends of Foster Children Forever, to do for abused and neglected children what neither the state nor any other agency does to make their lives closer to normal. He serves on the board of Healthcare Network of SWFL that provides primary medical, behavioral and dental health care to over half the children in Collier County and, he has been a Guardian ad Litem for 20 years. Doug is a central Kentucky native and was an oil and chemicals industry executive, a career that included 17 moves and more than 20 jobs.

Doug and his wife Nancy have lived in Naples since 1997 but have had family in the area since 1966. They have two children Mary and Jim, and three grandchildren. They periodically visit them in Boulder and Chicago, and the rest of the time he spends doing as instructed by Nancy, his wife of 50 years.

Doug is motivated by Better Together, Friends of Foster Children, Healthcare Network and his involvement as a Guardian ad Litem. All have taught him the glaring unfulfilled needs of children who, through no fault of their own, become dependent on the government. His philosophy is to make money, have fun and do all you can to keep the government from destroying what you worked to earn, including working within the system to see that tax dollars do as much good as possible.

Doug believes that this is a valued venture since Better Together works with volunteer families to help families at-risk who want to stay together, thrive and avoid foster care. Friends of Foster Children meet the unmet needs of kids in the dependency system who have become wards of the state with little to no explanation. It’s for these children that he spends most of his time working to meet their needs that the state does not.

In Collier County, more than 700 abused, abandoned and neglected children are removed from their homes each year. Doug dreams that through volunteer initiatives such as Better Together, the need to remove these children from their homes and place them in foster care will no longer exist.

Amy WestBetter Together Team
Amy West
Managing Director of Truist Wealth

With over 20 years of wealth management experience serving ultra-high net worth individuals and families, Amy leads a team of specialists with expertise in investments, financial planning, strategic credit and estate planning strategies. 

Amy began her career in wealth management in 2001 with The PNC Financial Services Group, where she spent 18 years in various roles before moving to Truist Wealth (formerly SunTrust Private Wealth Management) in 2019. Amy maintains a Certified Trust and Financial Advisor designation as well as Financial Industry Regulatory Authority licenses 7, 66 and 24. 

Amy grew up in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, and in 2005 moved to Naples, Florida, where she currently resides with her husband, Jonathan, who is a firefighter for Lee County, as well as their daughter Aeliana and son Ryker. Amy also serves on the board for the Boys & Girls Club of Collier County.

Community Advisory Board
Bess Charles
Co-owner of LadyCakes Bakery

LadyCakes started 2006 when Bess Charles wanted to use her cake decorating and baking hobby to save money on making her kids’ birthday cakes. Eventually LadyCakes Bakery grew from her kitchen to a commercial kitchen and storefront in 2014 and her husband Jeff left his job to join her.   

LadyCakes family Bakery in Cape Coral has quickly grown to provide custom cakes throughout Southwest Florida, working with dozens of area wedding professionals as well as providing cakes for wedding packages at five area resorts.   

LadyCakes works with non-profit organizations such as Icing Smiles, The Mighty Mike Foundation, the Wounded Warriors Project and many other local organizations.   

Bryan Blackwell Better Together Board MemberCommunity Advisory Board
Bryan Blackwell,
managing partner, Southern Oak Wealth Management

With more than 13 years of experience in financial planning and investment management, Bryan began his career in financial services in 2008. Previously he spent eight years in the United States Marine Corps and Florida Army National Guard. Today, Bryan provides financial planning and estate planning for Southern Oak Wealth Management using equities, fixed income securities, managed money, and more through Raymond James.  

A native of Ashville, North Carolina, Bryan has resided in Cape Coral, Florida for 29 years. He is an active member of Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce where he serves on the board.  

He is also a member of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors and a board member of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast. Away from the office, Bryan enjoys giving back to the community, golf, fishing and spending time with his family.  

Chad Hodges Better Together Board Member.jpgCommunity Advisory Board
Chadd Hodges,
Co-Owner and CEO, Best Home Services

In 2009,  Chadd and his brother Keegan Hodges purchased Best Home Services from their parents, Perry and Marilyn Hodges, and expanded on its electrical residential customer service foundation to include an array of services. The company had been family owned and operated since 1980.  

The brothers recently sold the company but even in retirement Chadd continues to support the many organizations they endorsed as a company, including  Habitat for Humanity, the American Red Cross, Special Olympics, Midwest Food Bank and the Alliance Defense Fund.  

Chadd is also a board member of the Ephesians 3:20 Foundation and a Summit Church member since 2007. Married to Andrea, they have three children, Emery, Addilyn and Beckett. Chadd enjoys working out, hunting, boating and golf.  

 

Corey Demmel Better Together Board MemberCommunity Advisory Board
Cory Demmel
Lead Pastor at Cape Christian in Cape Coral

Cory is lead pastor at nondenominational Cape Christian and has been working at churches for 19 years, with a focus on growing leaders across ministries.  

He has led in adult ministry, children and student ministry, small groups, and Master’s Commission. Cory’s goal is to add value to people everywhere he goes, and he loves to help people discover and pursue their passions and purpose.  

Cory enjoys living in Southwest Florida with his wife Rebecca and daughter Madison. Originally from Nebraska, he is an avid Husker’s fan. Cory’s energy is evident in everything he does, from golfing to spending time with his family and friends.  

Community Advisory Board
Joshua Dorcey
Managing Partner, Dorcey Law Firm

Joshua founded the Dorcey Law Firm in 2007  helping thousands of families establish and maintain their personal estate plans. Prior to opening the firm, he worked at a premier real estate and business litigation firm in Fort Myers.   

His vision is for the firm to be transformational and process driven with a focus on going over and above the industry standard when taking care of clients, their families and their businesses.  

Josh’s family homesteaded in southwest Florida in 1913, and he is the fourth generation of his family living in Lee County.  

Better Together Board MemberCommunity Advisory Board
Michael DeLuca
Principal and partner-in-charge of HBK CPAs & Consultant’s Southwest Florida offices

Michael works extensively with closely held corporations, partnerships, small- to middle-market businesses, large private corporations and individuals, primarily within the health care industry. He specializes in the areas of strategic business consulting and structuring, tax planning and preparation, and domestic and international compliance. Prior to joining HBK CPAs & Consultants in 2011, he spent time as a manager at Ernst & Young and Deloitte Tax LLP in their Atlanta, Georgia and Miami, Florida offices.   

In addition, he is driven to help create a multi-generation, multi-industry economy in Southwest Florida.  

He is a founding committee member of the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce Leadership NEXT, a mentor for Take Stock in Children, a Foundation for Lee County Public Schools committee member and a founding committee member of the Naples Children & Education Foundation Friends of the Foundation.   

Teri Hansen Better Together Board MemberCommunity Advisory Board
Teri Hansen
APR, President/Creative Director, Priority Marketing

Teri founded Priority Marketing in 1992, an entrepreneurial dream that began at a dining room table and flourished into the region’s largest, full-service marketing, advertising and public relations firm.  

Over the past 25 years, Priority Marketing has donated more than $2 million in pro-bono or discounted services to nonprofit and community organizations to help support their mission and fundraising.   

Teri is a member of the charter board and Board of Directors for Lee BIA Builders Care and is a founding member, past-president and former chairman of the board for the Lakes Park Enrichment Foundation. She is a charter member of the Tiger Bay Club and recently completed an eight-year term serving on the board for Habitat for Humanity of Lee and Hendry Counties. She is dedicated to her husband, daughter, son-in-law, grandchildren and family, as well as her devoted Priority Marketing team.  

Dawson JordonBetter Together Team

Dawson Jordan
Creative Director

Dawson is an exciting addition to the Better Together Team. Since graduating college in 2015 from Florida Gulf Coast University with his bachelor’s degree in Business Management he has managed to create a successful career for himself as a self-employed freelance videographer/photographer. He has recently relocated back to his hometown in SWFL and is excited to join the team as the Creative Director to help us tell the Better Together story. Dawson is passionate about telling stories through a creative lens, especially when it comes to seeing families stay together and for individuals to thrive and become the best version of themselves. When Dawson is not in the office he likes to hang out with his friends, workout, and watch sports.