The Helen’s Hope Foundation was started in honor of Helen Grasso. Born Helen Murray in 1928, Helen’s youth was spent with constant heartache. Helen and her sister were born to a single mother and spent their early years in a turbulent and abusive home. The two girls were taken from their mother and sent to live in an orphanage at a young age. They then spent their childhood in and out of foster families and orphanages and never were adopted. In their late teens they were placed with a foster mother who they both considered the only mother they ever had. After having an upbringing that would leave many scarred forever, Helen faced each day with courage and determination. It was with Helen’s story and spirit that Helen’s Hope Foundation was started.
Stephanie Karl, along with her husband Ken, started the groundwork for Helen’s Hope Foundation to honor her mother, Helen, after she lost a courageous battle with lung cancer in 2000. What began as the family gifting scholarships to underprivileged children grew into a family foundation in 2007. The foundation focused on gifting organizations that worked with underprivileged youth in New Jersey, where the Karl family resided. Helen’s Hope Foundation was and remains a family effort, managed and run by the Karl Family (Stephanie & Ken and their three children, Hollie, Mallory and Kristian).
In 2011 the family came together to expand the efforts of Helen’s Hope Foundation. As each of Stephanie and Ken’s children have grown and started their own families in different areas of the US, the family decided to focus on all regions where they reside (Florida (Monroe County and the Miami area), New Jersey New York (Greater NY and the Mid-Hudson Valley), Pennsylvania (Philadelphia and the surrounding areas)). The family also decided to accept grant applications, something they had not done before, to be able to broaden their impact to organizations they may not have heard of that are making a difference in the lives of children. In 2018, the Foundation decided to no longer fund organizations in NJ as their connection to the state has weakened and they were choosing fewer and fewer NJ organizations to fund each year.
As they work to support organizations that are truly impacting today’s youth, Helen’s Hope Foundation looks to Helen’s spirit and hope that any child stripped of their childhood, as Helen was, can have the support and guidance to overcome any obstacle.