Fourth Annual Event to Benefit Salvation Army of Melbourne’s Sue M. Pridmore Center
by Geo A. Ropert, APR

To speak with Helena Merant is to have a conversation with an entrepreneur determined to control her destiny and provide a stable, loving home and life for her five children. The owner of Ladybug Cleaning Services, Helena has cleaning contracts with large national homebuilders, along with local apartment and office complexes. She works hard to market her business and will soon add new staff to her team.
Oh, and Helena is homeless.
Her story is one that dispels the myth that homelessness only happens to those with drug addictions, mental illnesses or a lack of motivation to thrive. It can happen to anyone, due to circumstances beyond their control. For Helena, it was an admitted error by a government agency that caused her to be evicted from her apartment. She found herself and her children living in the family van.
While living in the vehicle for several months, Helena managed to maintain a full-time job and keep up the payments and insurance on her vehicle, but that was about all she could afford. It was during this time, while she kept her homelessness a secret from others, that she wrote her business plan for the cleaning service and set the course for her future. No one was going to separate her from her family or her dream.
That was when she turned to the Sue M. Pridmore Center for Homeless Women and Children, seeking a safe place to regroup, where she could receive the support she needed to get her life back on track. “The staff at the Center was there for me, every day,” said Helena. “They asked me what I needed to get back on my feet and then went and got it. It wasn’t a handout but a hand up and I’m moving into a new home thanks to them!” And her new business is thriving so she doesn’t expect to return.
Endowed by Sue M. Pridmore, a lifelong Salvation Army supporter, the Sue M. Pridmore Center for Homeless Women and Children is the only transitional center in Brevard County. It provides shelter, food, spiritual comfort and emotional support to women, with or without children. To help those seeking to break free from chronic homelessness and unemployment, the Center offers up to six months of shelter and a wide range of life-skills training to help its residents successfully transition into the local community and become productive, self-sufficient individuals.
Since it opened in 2004, over 1,300 women and children have called the Pridmore Center “home” while they worked on resolving the issues that led to their homelessness. In 2015, the Center provided a safe place for 135 women and children and served almost 14,000 meals to its residents.
To continue providing the valuable services to the many women the Pridmore Center serves, The Salvation Army of Melbourne will host its fourth annual “Giving Hope Gala” on Saturday, August 27, at the Hilton Melbourne Rialto Place. “The Golden Days of Hollywood” is the theme for the evening’s event, featuring a red-carpet entrance and entertainment by the 22-piece “Swingtime Band,” an affiliate of the Melbourne Municipal Band, along with dinner and dancing, live and silent auctions, and raffles. Guests are invited to arrive in attire befitting the era of early Hollywood glamour.
“This event is so important to the many women who benefit from the shelter and services we provide at the Pridmore Center,” said The Salvation Army of Melbourne’s executive board chairwoman Donna Ellis.

“We strive to help women see a brighter future for themselves and their children, to go from homelessness and hopelessness to stable housing and employment, and become a contributing member of our community.”

Individual tickets for the Giving Hope Gala are $75 per person. Sponsorships, ranging from $500 to $10,000, are also available and include event admission, publicity and recognition, based on sponsor level. To purchase tickets and for more information, visit or call (321) 724-0494.
P.S. If you’d like to hire Helena’s Ladybug Cleaning Services for your home, office or business, visit her Facebook page: or call (321) 419-5295.


Salvation Army of Melbourne
4th Annual Giving Hope Gala
Saturday, August 27
Hilton Melbourne Rialto Place
200 Rialto Place | Melbourne, FL 32901