Operation Hope of Greater Florida Inc., a non-profit organization, has remained dedicated to providing support, education, and assistance to needy families regardless of race, color or religion.
Founded in 1997 by Jesse Zermeno who recognized the plight of Florida's migrant workers, Operation Hope was created to make a difference in the lives of these laborers and their families. With numerous diverse individuals and corporate partners, Operation Hope Seeks to improve the sometimes-desperate living conditions of those that labor tirelessly. Individuals are rallied, and their efforts and donations are channeled to serve the greatest good.
Our strong resolve to improving these conditions is demonstrated weekly when volunteers are assembled to distribute donations of food, clothing and household items to the needy. In addition, to this dependable resource of necessities, Operation Hope volunteers offer words of encouragement and support. Each year Operation Hope has many activities, in August we supply about 700 children with school supplies, for Thanksgiving 800 baskets are given to families and for Christmas a celebration is held with as many as 1200 children receiving toys.
Jesse Zermeno was born in Mexico City on November 3, 1947, the oldest of six children, 2 girls and 4 boys. After completing high school (Institute Juventud) he helped put himself through college by working in marketing for a telephone company. Zermeno graduated from the Institute of Technology at Mexico City with a B.S. degree in business in 1974.
He continued with the telephone company after graduation and was offered an opportunity by the company to attend school in the U.S. in order to learn to speak English. Zermeno chose a school in Chicago because he had a family living there. While attending school, Zermeno took a part time job as a waiter at La Margarita, a Mexican restaurant. Restaurant management decided that the all-male servers might be more effective if they teamed with female waitresses. An ad was placed in the newspapers for Spanish-speaking waitresses. Despite management’s plan they hired only one waitress - Jann, Jess’s future wife. By 1976 they were married.
Jann, a native of Glenview, a Chicago suburb, was the oldest of three children. After graduating from Glenbrook South High School, she attended Western Illinois for two years and spent her junior year abroad at the University of Barcelona, Spain. Later she was to graduate from the UCF with a degree in elementary education and add an A.A. degree in travel and tourism from FMU to her dossier.
Jesse and Jann lived in Chicago until a former Mexican classmate of Jesse’s was elected to a high-ranking government position and asked Jesse to return to Mexico to be part of his administration. The Zermenos moved to Mexico, buy the timing was bad. The bottom fell out of Mexican economy soon after they relocated and the Zermenos decided to return to the U.S.. They moved to Melbourne, Florida, to live with Jann’ s retired parents until they could get back on their feet. By now the Zermenos had three children: Jesse, Jeanette and Jackie.
Jesse became a U.S. citizen and found employment in production control at Harris, Corp.. He also enrolled in a masters degree program at the Florida Institute of Technology. Within six months the Zermenos were able to purchase a home in the Eau Gallie section of Melbourne where they still live. Three years later Jesse bought the Sandpiper Dry Carpet Cleaning Business.
In 1997 Jesse founded Operation Hope after learning of the plight of migrant workers in Fellsmere. Since that time he has organized volunteers, mostly from Melbourne, to make the 70-mile round trip to Fellsmere to bring food, clothing and a message of hope to the desperately poor families of the farm workers. Jann has been by Jesse’s side every inch of the way.