Scott taps ‘Place of Hope’ executive director to faith-based boardby Dara Kam | February 17th, 2012
Gov. Rick Scott has Palm Beach Gardens-based “Place of Hope” executive director Charles L. Bender to the Florida Faith-Based and Community-Based Advisory Council.
Bender is one of eight new appointees Scott placed on the 11-member panel tasked with enlisting the aid of volunteer organizations to provide social services to Floridians. The council also makes recommendations to the governor and legislature about expanding the use of faith-based groups in government.
Place of Hope, financed in part by Christ Fellowship Church, opened more than a decade ago in Palm Beach Gardens and includes six “cottages” for foster families. Some of the state’s neediest children living in the gated community take horseback riding lessons and boating trips on the weekends.
While president, George W. Bush praised Bender for his work with foster children, calling Place of Hope a model for charitable church-state partnerships. Bender, who earned more than $213,000 as the head of the non-profit in 2010, served on a similar board under Gov. Jeb Bush a decade ago.
Bender’s group drew fire from critics of Jeb Bush’s faith-based initiatives after its link to the Department of Children and Families because the child welfare organization is so directly linked to Christianity. Place of Hope and its affiliates provide a variety of services for foster children, including transitional housing for former foster children who have aged out of the program, as well as adoption services and intervention for troubled families.