Documentary filmmaker using nonprofit support group as her subject revealed as Secret Millionaire

<strong>New Hope Grief Support Community founder Susan Beeney giving some extra support to camper Natalie at one of the nonprofit’s family events</strong>
Ariana Gastelum
Editorial Intern

The New Hope Grief Support Community, a Long Beach nonprofit, will be featured on ABC’s Secret Millionaire on Sunday, July 8. Secret Millionaire is a reality program that matches wealthy donors with deserving charities by following some of America’s most successful businesspersons as they work with people and organizations while assuming hidden identities.
New Hope has served more than 7,000 people in 12 years, providing grief support groups, educational resources, seminars and family grief camps at no cost. Their biggest desire is to have a greater awareness and, in founder Susan Beeney’s words, “strike the hearts of every person on Earth.”
Hilary DeCesare, CEO/co-founder of, whose mission is to provide an age-appropriate social media experience for children, visited New Hope while posed as a filmmaker producing a documentary on how nonprofits help keep America stable through volunteerism. When first given the opportunity, DeCesare initially rejected the invitation. Over time, another co-founder of convinced her otherwise. “When I was getting on the plane, I remember thinking, ‘What am I doing?’” DeCesare recalled.
According to Beeney, no one ever grew suspicious of a false identity. “We were amazed by the quality and caliber of the equipment they had and the amount of crew– the 30 people– that accompanied them,” she said. “They seemed legit and ethical.”
<strong>Hilary DeCesare, CEO/co-founder of, was revealed as the “secret millionaire” behind ABC’s reality program after posing as a documentarian working on a film about volunteerism.</strong>
DeCesare was invited to help build a memorial garden for the Alonso Family, who lost their son and brother Christian in a tragic accident. She became deeply moved by the entire experience while standing in the place where that tragedy had occurred. “These people are such beautiful individuals, and I got to spend the day with them,” she said. Over the week, she and Beeney became incredibly close. DeCesare described her as warm and engaging. “She wanted to make sure that every single person who has lost somebody out there has someone they can count on,” she added. “We are lucky there are people like that in this world.”
DeCesare revealed herself as a wealthy entrepreneur on Friday, Oct. 14, 2011. “When she stepped forward, it was beyond amazing, beyond belief,” Beeney said. Although none of New Hope’s crew had seen the show, Beeney remembered viewing its trailer three years prior. She thought, “Wow, finally a reality show of substance,” and she wondered how New Hope could one day become one of the featured nonprofit organizations.
With the generous donation, New Hope was able to update their website, so now the public can easily learn about their programs, read past “Stories of Hope,” view upcoming events, and more. The monetary gift has also allowed the nonprofit to hire David Leonard, a previous grief program participator, as the director of development and marketing. The donation has additionally made economic struggles in general easier to weather.
New Hope will always relieve grieving people and help them find hope and healing as they travel on their own personal journeys of grief, according to Beeney. “It’s so rewarding because you can help people who came to you all numb in their grief and not knowing which way to turn,” Beeney said. “And you offer them grief support where our trained facilitators are beside you, and 900 people in our groups share their hearts, being transparent and vulnerable. You watch them transform out of the bondage of grief into the freedom to grieve.”
DeCesare was able to bring volunteerism into her own life. She now volunteers at her church and is currently involved as a board member in an organization fighting pediatric cancer.
New Hope will host a public premiere party from 7pm to 9pm on July 8 at Gaslamp Restaurant, 6251 E. Pacific Coast Highway.

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