Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Readers respond to Holiday Hopes needs

Every year, we profile people in need who dare to wish during the holiday season. And every year, you, the readers, step up to help. This year, readers didn't let tough economic times stand in the way of wishes. You gave with your usual enthusiasm and generosity to continue the success of the Holiday Hopes series. Thank you.

A dress and a cake

Jacqueline Ventura, 14, is approaching that special birthday in her culture when a girl becomes a senorita. But amid her everyday struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder with psychotic features, she feels more stuck at 11 than about to turn 15.

She wished for a pink dress and a cake so that she could feel like any other quinceanera.

Of the response, said Cindy Mendez, Jackie's social worker at Gulf Coast Jewish Family Services, "We've been blown away."

Mendez had an immediate assortment of pink dresses for Jackie to choose from, and a cake that will hold 15 candles on her birthday in January.

Wonderful wedding

Roseline Hester, 28, escaped violence in Haiti as a child. And then she escaped an abusive husband with her infant and not much else.

While homeless, she gained legal immigration status and studied to become a nurse.

This month, the day after she graduated with a nursing degree, she married Greg Francoeur, a fellow Haitian immigrant who helped her love again. She wished for a wedding reception, to celebrate the new chapter in her life.

A photographer and videographer provided free services to commemorate the occasion, and someone provided the wedding cake.

"With all the help that we received from the community, our wedding was a dream come true," Rose said. "God has blessed us beyond our expectations. Thank you to everyone who has been a part of our union."

Peaceful passing

In the saddest Holiday Hopes story to date, we introduced readers to 4-year-old Jesus Mauricio, whose yearlong battle with kidney and liver cancer left his parents wishing for only a miracle, that he'd survive to see Christmas.

And that if he did die, that he would not suffer.

Jesus died the morning the story ran. But hospice nurses worked to control his pain, said LifePath Hospice spokeswoman Patty Klein.

"He died peacefully," she said.

Readers still responded, with a great outpouring of support for his family.

Three businesses arranged their dinners. An advertising agency arranged a movie outing for his sisters. A man dressed as Spider-Man, Jesus' hero, went to his funeral.

The Edgar Guzman Law Group arranged a trust fund for the family.

His family is grateful, Klein said. "They realized there were people in the community who cared about Jesus."

Alexandra Zayas, Times staff writer

Past stories To read this year's Holiday Hopes series, visit

Readers respond to Holiday Hopes needs 12/25/08 [Last modified: Thursday, December 25, 2008 3:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Lightning fans, don't get attached to your first-round draft picks

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — When Lightning GM Steve Yzerman announces his first-round pick Friday night in the amateur draft at No. 14, he'll invite the prospect onto the stage for the once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) eludes  Montreal Canadiens left wing Phillip Danault (24) during the second period of Wednesday???‚??„?s (12/28/16) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Montreal Canadiens at the Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  2. Investigation Discovery TV show profiles 2011 Landy Martinez murder case


    The murder of a St. Petersburg man will be featured this week on a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery.

    Jose Adame sits in a Pinellas County courtroom during his 2016 trial and conviction for first-degree murder. Adame was convicted of first-degree murder last year for torturing and then executing his boyfriend as he pleaded for his life in 2011. Now it will be featured in a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery. The episode will air on June 26 at 9 p.m. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  3. Uhuru mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel protests exclusion from debate


    ST. PETERSBURG — Jesse Nevel, the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement candidate for mayor, on Thursday demanded that he be allowed to participate in a July 25 televised debate between incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and challenger Rick Baker.

    Mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel holds a news conference outside the headquarters of the Tampa Bay Times on Thursday to protest his exclusion from the mayoral debate. Nevel is a member of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement.
  4. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman also has top-9 wing on his wish list

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — Much has been made about the Lightning's interest in bolstering its blue line, even after last week's acquisition of defense prospect Mikhail Sergachev.

    Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman gestures as he speaks to the media about recent trades during a news conference before an NHL hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes Wednesday, March 1, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. The Lightning, over the past few days, have traded goaltender Ben Bishop to the Los Angeles Kings, forward Brian Boyle to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and forward Valtteri Filppula to the Philadelphia Flyers. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA101