The Angel of Hope of Central Florida is a grass roots mission taken on by a dedicated group of individuals that see a need to have our children’s lives remembered. We are health care professionals, moms and dads, and members of the community who have experienced and understand the struggle of losing a child. We have come together to erect a statue, The Christmas Box Angel of Hope, in the Central Florida area. The Angel of Hope statue will represent all children who have died.
There are 100 Christmas Box Angels across the United States.
Gary Vogel, LMHC
Following the stillbirth of his daughter in 1989, Gary combined his profession, as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, and his personal experience to design HEAL, a seven-week structured support group for couples who have experienced miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant death. Gary has been facilitating HEAL since 1991. As a result of this experience, and writing three books on the subject of pregnancy loss, including “A Caregivers Handbook to Perinatal Loss”, Gary has become a nationally recognized expert in the field. Gary is also a member of the board of directors of the SIDS Alliance of Florida, and a founding member of PILR (Pregnancy & Infant Loss Resources), a cooperative of professionals and non-profits dedicated to assisting families experiencing pregnancy loss.
Kristen Bencomo and Anthony Bencomo
Kristen and Anthony Bencomo are founding members of the Angel of Hope of Central Florida. In May 2008, they gave birth to a baby girl, Gabriella at 26 weeks gestation. She weighed 11oz and survived for 2 weeks in the NICU. While Kristen grieved the loss of her daughter at home she searched for something meaningful to remember her by. Kristen came across the website the Christmas Box Angel of Hope and realized Central Florida did not have any Angel statues. They have been an active role in bringing the Angel of Hope to the Central Florida area and participate in the remembrance ceremonies annually. In their free time, they volunteer at Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Florida, enjoy UCF football games, and travel with their 15-year-old daughter, Bella.
Carina Leeson Janocko
Carina grew up in Central Florida and is the proud mother of triplet daughters, one of whom passed away at only two and a half weeks old due to complications related to prematurity. Carina honors her daughter, Kayla, with the work she does as a Board member with the Angel of Hope Central Florida. Carina acknowledges that there is something powerful that happens when people who have lost a child, at any age, come together to remember and honor them. Carina is also a collaborative family law attorney who assists families transitioning through divorce in an out of court process that prioritizes their family.