The Children’s Board Heart Gallery Gives A Voice To Children In Need Of A Forever Family

The Children’s Board Heart Gallery is a travelling exhibit which brings foster children in need of a “forever family” to the community. The exhibit, complete with video messages from the children, will move you. You can help a child in need in many ways through becoming an adoptive parent or by simply making a donation to help with the needs of these children.

The goal of the Children’s Board Heart Gallery of Tampa Bay is to bring the community closer to the faces and voices of foster children waiting for a “forever family.” The Children’s Board Heart Gallery of Tampa Bay started in 2004 and is the oldest in Florida. It is also the first in the nation to feature an interactive exhibit with audio messages from waiting children.

The Children’s Board has three exhibits of varying sizes which travel to locations throughout Hillsborough County. Currently, one of the exhibits is located at Progressive Insurance, located at 4030 Crescent Park Dr. in Riverview. On Tuesday, July 10, this exhibit will be moved to the University Mall in Tampa. A larger exhibit is also being installed at the TECO Energy Plaza located at 702 N. Franklin St. in Tampa.

This fall, the exhibit will return to Bay Life Church, located at 1017 Kingsway Rd. in Brandon. Jill Aubin, missions administrator for Bay Life Church said, “We at Bay Life Church thoroughly enjoyed the weeks that the Heart Gallery was displayed in our lobby. The quality of the display and professional staff were more than we had expected. We would welcome them back anytime to educate our members to the great need in our community.”

The Heart Gallery features 100 children who have been referred to the gallery by case management. According to Melissa Twomey, program manager for the Children’s Board Heart Gallery, “The photos are very compelling and full of personality. Visitors tend to become visibly moved by the exhibits, and often emotional as they begin to realize that these are children in our community who are in need of a family.”

The Heart Gallery successfully matches 40-45 percent of featured children with potential families. Twomey added, “While only a small percentage of the population ultimately adopts, a very large percentage is compelled to help in other ways.” Individuals can help by making a donation for a variety of items.

Businesses and churches can be venues for the exhibit, and corporations can hold campaigns to help with the many needs of the foster children in Hillsborough County.

If you cannot get to a location to view the exhibits in person, visit the interactive Website at www.heartgallerytampabay.org.