Hands Across the Bay has a small but mighty team of four, Julie, Dee, Melissa, Chelsea. Read their biographies below to learn more about them.
Founder and President
Julie Weintraub is originally from England and moved here in 1978 with her family. Her mother is English and her father East Indian. Experiencing firsthand what it is like to go through times of hardship and struggles, Julie has always made time to help those less fortunate around her. Julie was raised in a home with parents that always gave back and helped others in need. Her mother even moved a man who was homeless into their home and rehabilitating him until he became a homeowner himself. Residing in Florida since 1987 Julie has had a long history in our area of Philanthropy and Entrepreneurship. Currently, Julie is President of one of the most successful Family owned Jewelry companies in the Southeast, Gold & Diamond Source with her husband Steve. In 2010, Julie founded Julie Weintraub’s Hands Across The Bay which has quickly become one of our areas most notable and respected charitable organizations helping countless families in need.
Finding your purpose in this world is not an easy feat to accomplish. Dee was born and raise in Clearwater, FL into a tight knit Greek Family, and spent her early years observing her community at various church event and local charities. She got her buoyant, loving spirit from her charitable parents, who introduced her to multiple non-profits. Although she graduated with a bachelors of Science in Event Management front he University of Central Florida and expected her work week to consist of planning large corporate meetings, her heart was in the business of giving back to others.
Her father introduced her to Julie Wentraub's Hands Across the Bay, a non-profit organization he came to know while dancing in Tampa Bay's Dancing with the Stars. Hands Across the Bay gives back to the Tampa Bay Community by mentoring families in need, supporting local non-profits, and advocating for change. Dee fell in love with the organization and felt she had found her footing. She plans fundraising events, handles the accounting and day to day operations of Hands Across the Bay, but her favorite part of her job is seeing the smiles on people's faces, and knowing she has made a lasting, positive impact in their lives.
When she is not at working changing lives of Tampa Bay Area residents, Dee enjoys spending her free time with her husband and dog outdoors. Most of their weekend adventures lead to the water, making Clearwater the best place to live.
Violence Prevention Advocate and Outreach Coordinator
It’s a true miracle that Melissa Dohme Hill is alive and healthy today. In January of 2012, her high school ex-boyfriend brutally attacked her by stabbing her 32 times in the neck, face, arms, and hands attempting to take her life. The attack caused her entire blood volume to be replaced twice, resulting her to flat-line four times and suffer a stroke in the emergency room. Following that horrific night and her miraculous recovery, Melissa developed the conviction to become an advocate and speak out against domestic violence. She has shared her story with thousands of people, speaking at various domestic violence events, conferences, high schools, and colleges. Melissa has been featured in national and international publications and television shows, including: People Magazine, 48 HOURS “Live to Tell”, Inside Edition, Good Morning America, Today Show, BBC News, Fox News, CNN, Nancy Grace on HLN, Investigative Discovery and many more.
In recognition of her effective advocacy in the community, Melissa has been awarded CASA’s 2013 Victory Over Violence award, WEDU's 2016 Be More Outspoken: Voice of Tampa Bay Award, and the Pinellas County Domestic Violence Task Force’s 2016 Outstanding Achievement in Preventing Domestic Violence Award.
Despite doctors advising a break due to her traumatic brain injury, Melissa returned immediately to college and never gave up on her education! In 2012, she was awarded St. Petersburg College Clearwater’s Student of the Year and honored as the commencement speaker for her Associates Degree. In May of 2016, she proudly reached her ultimate goal and graduated with honors, Summa Cum Laude (3.9 GPA), for her Bachelor of Applied Science in Business Management & Organizational Leadership.
Today, Melissa proudly works for a Tampa Bay nonprofit organization, Julie Weintraub's Hands Across the Bay as a Domestic Violence Prevention Advocate & Speaker. She feels everyday that she walks into work or steps on a stage, she is fulfilling her life purpose of why she was saved that horrific night. In an unexpected twist of fate, Melissa met and fell in love with Cameron Hill, one of the first responders on her call. Their recent wedding and fairytale love has captured the attention of millions across the world.
Melissa Dohme's attacker was sentence to LIFE IN PRISON with no chance of parole on October 21, 2013. Hands Across the Bay was there to support Melissa as she recalled all she went through and pleaded for her abuser to receive a life sentence. To read Melissa's Victim Impact Statement, please click here.
Chelsea Heavenridge is a full time student at Florida State University with a major in Interdisciplinary Social Science which enabled her to concentrate her studies on Sociology and Social Entrepreneurship. Since Chelsea was raised in a family of 7, helping others has always came very natural to her. After learning more about Non-Profits, she fell in love with the idea of assisting others in her community and wanted to take action. Her mother, a dear friend of Julie, decided then to reach out and get more information on Hands Across the Bay and how Chelsea could possibly contribute.
The summer of Chelseas Junior year in college she was offered an internship at Hands Across the Bay that changed her life profusely. Being able to work with families in need, domestic violence survivors, and support local non-profits, truly touched her in many ways. Within one quick summer, Chelsea knew she wanted to keep this job for a life time. The team at Hands Across the Bay saw her potential and came together to inform her she could have a full time position here and live out her dream. Chelsea decided to take on this role and finish her schooling online for her senior year.
When she is not at work changing lives of the Tampa Bay Area residents, Chelsea spends her free time at the beach with her family, exploring the city as a foodie, or trying to travel the world.