about the nurture place
The Nurture Place was founded in 2019 as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization with the mission to expand access to care for children, families and our community.
The Nurture Place is committed to an evidence-based, best practice approach to family support.
Meet our Team
The Nurture Place team is committed to providing a felt- safe space and a wellspring of support in our community for families’ overall wellness. We collaborate with families and community professionals to provide opportunities for prevention, intervention and healing.
The Nurture Place values ongoing input and collaboration with experts in a variety of fields impacting children and families.
parent Advisory committee
The voices of community parents & caregivers provide critical input to shape The Nurture Place's programs and services. We are grateful for our participating families!
Everyone can play a part in impacting children and families in our community!
Contact us here for more information about serving:
Board of Directors
Parent Advisory Committee
Angela Gonzalez has been married to her husband Felix for 25 years and has three daughters, Breanna (young adult), Gabby (young adult) and Sophia (10). Angela worked in the healthcare industry at various positions and organizations for 15+ years. However, the last 8 years she focused her time in co-founding and developing best practices of family support for adoptive and foster families. Angela and her husband are adoptive parents and understand the importance of high quality, trauma-informed, and holistic approaches to aid children and families heal from complex developmental trauma. She knows there is no single approach that works for everyone, so her desire is to help make accessible a more integrative program for all families. She is passionate about social justice causes with a specific focus in diversity and caring for vulnerable children. She deeply cares about the importance for every community to become trauma-informed, in turn, creating safe and empathetic environments where each child, adult, and family can be strengthened and thrive.
As an adoptive parent, she understands the importance of becoming trauma-informed, for this reason she became a TBRI Practitioner, ACE’s Facilitator and Trauma Informed Certified. Angela sits on the Board of Directors for Bethany Christian Services.
summer darnell, LMHC
Summer Darnell is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (FL# MH17578) who loves helping children and families experience healthy, connected relationships. She is passionate about providing open and affordable access to family support, prevention and intervention and building collaborative, trauma-informed communities. Summer is an Adoption-Competent Therapist and is certified in treating Postnatal Anxiety and Depression. She is a member of the Association for Play Therapy and the Florida Association for Infant Mental Health and serves as a Clinical Consultant for Liz’s Legacy Foundation.
Summer holds a Bachelor of Science in Economics from American University in Washington, D.C. and a Master of Arts in Professional Counseling from Liberty University. She is married to her husband, Jay, for over 20 years and she is mom to one young adult, Brantley, and two children, Parker (13) and Haley (9).
Kerry Sharpe has been married to David for 30 years and has two children, Matthew and Emily. Kerry graduated from the University of Alabama with a bachelors degree in Corporate Finance. She worked as a residential real estate appraiser for 10 years before retiring to stay home and raise her children.
Kerry has been on several mission trips to Honduras serving a ministry that serves children in crisis. These mission trips along with her volunteer work with Love Made Visible, a ministry serving adoptive and foster families, is where she formed an interest in serving children from hard places. She has volunteered for the past several years with a local non-profit in many capacities: helping organize and plan fundraising events, volunteering at events for Foster children, Parents Night Out for foster/adoptive families and for Nurture Groups. In 2019, Kerry became Coordinator for Nurture Groups which teaches adoptive and foster children skills they might have missed and are essential as they become adults to be able to function well in relationship with others.
Kerry is passionate about learning the effects of complex developmental trauma and has attended many seminars and is planning to become a TBRI certified practitioner in order to teach and help others about complex trauma.
Angie hilken, LCSW
Angie Hilken, L.C.S.W. is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the state of Florida. She is nationally Endorsed as an Infant Mental Health Clinical Mentor, specializing in supporting children and families from birth to 6 years of age. Ms. Hilken completed Infant Mental Health training through Florida State University, Harris Institute. She has provided training around the State of Florida. Ms. Hilken is a former board member of Florida Association of Infant Mental Health and currently serves on the Advisory Board. She is involved with building Florida’s reflective supervision network. Ms. Hilken’s professional awards and recognitions include Social Worker of the Year, JJ Daniels Award for work with children, and Florida Times Union Child Abuse Prevention Award.
Heather elizondo Vega MD, FAAP
Heather Elizondo Vega is a board-certified general pediatrician and adolescent medicine specialist in Winter Garden, Florida. After serving in the United States Army as a pediatrician caring for the children of US soldiers from 2002-2013, she relocated to Florida to continue her career in the civilian world with AdventHealth for Children. In addition to direct patient care, she serves as a supervisor for pediatricians-in-training with the AdventHealth for Children Pediatrics Residency Program. Her interests include positive youth development, reduction of risk behaviors, and mental health. She is a member of Mosaic Church in Winter Garden and a part time student at Asbury Theological Seminary. She loves living, working, and playing in this small, close knit community in which she runs into her patients and their families regularly. She enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter, and she is an animal lover with four cats and one dog.
William Karshima is the Lead Pastor at Oasis Church Winter Garden. In Partnership with The Peace and Justice Institute and the Orlando MLK Commission, William is Co-Founder of RISE: Conversations on Race and Unity for the city of Winter Garden. He also works alongside his church and community based partners to mobilize volunteers to serve immigrant and refugee families at the US-Mexico border. William holds an MBA from Belhaven University and a BA in Urban Planning from the University of Jos in Nigeria. As a former missionary in India, South Africa, Mozambique, Ghana and now America, William has a passion for racial reconciliation.
Alexandria (Allie) Woods is a native Floridian and educator. Allie has worked with children of all ages for over ten years. Since graduating from the University of Central Florida with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education, Allie has spent the majority of her career educating elementary-aged students in the public school system. She also has held the position of an ABA Behavior Therapist for children with Autism.
Allie has been on several mission trips to Honduras and Guatemala where she provided respite care to caretakers of children with trauma. Her love of helping children inspired her to become a SAFE Family with Bethany Christian Services in 2017.
In addition to her education degree, Allie has been trained in nonviolent crisis intervention through CPI (Crisis Prevention Institute), she holds an active Florida Professional Teaching Certificate, and has participated in many courses through the Department of Children and Families to enhance her knowledge in the field. She is passionate about serving vulnerable children. Allie desires to assist families in connecting with their local resources. She finds joy in advocating and creating relationships with families that have experienced trauma.
Emily Sharpe graduated from Florida State University with a Bachelors of Science in Psychology with a focus on Child Development. She is passionate about social justice and working with kids who have experienced complex developmental trauma.
Emily plans to pursue a Masters of Arts in Counseling to become a Licensed Mental Health Counselor meanwhile becoming a TBRI certified practitioner.
Maria Cristina Goben is married to Ken Goben and has three children: Andres who is 21 and twins Caroline and Emily who are 6. Cristina is a Public Accountant with a specialization in fiscal inspection and management control. She was born in Bogota, Colombia and immigrated to the US in 2014. Over the last several years she has dedicated herself in working with vulnerable children, assisting with foster families, as well as being a licensed foster family and participating in international mission trips.
Being Hispanic as well as an immigrant, Cristina seeks to help other families that are in the process of adapting to a new country as well as learning a new system of services. For this reason she chose to become a Certified Facilitator with the Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors program in order to assist families with children between 0 and 5 years old. Her goal is to empower parents as the first teacher in their child(ren)’s life while consciously taking action and working to ensure that their children are successful and have a bright future.
Chelsea Johnson is a writer, speaker, entrepreneur, Certified Life Breakthrough Coach, mentor, and social advocate. She is a graduate of Tennessee State University with a BBA in Accounting and later attended Belhaven University to pursue an MBA in Leadership. She has worked in the corporate setting in the healthcare and hospitality industries, as well as in church ministry.
She is passionate about the wellbeing of individuals overcoming trauma through loss and authentically providing truth and hope for life’s incredibly hard situations. She also has a heart for families parenting children with special needs as a mom of a son with autism spectrum disorder/ADHD and a daughter with Down Syndrome.
She is currently involved with The Finley Project, an organization committed to helping grieving moms after infant loss. She is also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. which is dedicated to public service within our local communities. Most recently, Chelsea joined the board for Commonsense Childbirth, a nonprofit organization serving women and families, providing a better birth experience and outcome especially for minority and disenfranchised populations in the US.
Chelsea currently lives with her family in Ocoee, FL.
Meg Terry joins The Nurture Place as the Chairman of the Parent Advisory Committee and our Volunteer Trainer. Meg is a proud Florida State University alumni with a degree in Child and Family Sciences having earned her BS in Child Development. Meg has been working with children and families for over 20 years. Meg believes deeply in the power of the resiliency of children, and is honored to daily watch that play out in her daughter’s life and in her classroom as a first grade teacher.