By Libby Hopkins
There is an African proverb that says, “It takes a village to raise a child.” This statement is the foundation that created New Life Village in Tampa. The mission of the organization is to provide homes for children in foster care. Homes where they are wanted, and that will provide them with safety, stability and permanency.
“We are not a placement agency,” said New Life Village’s Director, Paul Halpern. “We do not place children. People/families make this their home and then they adopt children who are in foster care. The children have a new family and a home in a village.”
The way New Life Village works is that loving couples adopt older foster children and large sibling groups currently in foster care. These are children who typically languish in foster care until they turn 18 and then are sent out on their own, still without a family. They still need and deserve a loving family with a stable home just like other children. The new family will take up residence in the village with affordable rent for a lovely home large enough to accommodate their family.
Seniors live there as well, serving as “grandparents” to the children, and elder counsel to the parents. This gives the village an intergenerational aspect.
“We are like their extended family,” Halpern said. “Children can live freely and safely. They can make mistakes without suffering the consequences that will cause them to lose their home and family.”
Children at the village feel less alone in their status of adopted child and feel a much greater sense of belonging as a contributing member of the community.
“We are a cultural leap,” Halpern said. “This is a new and permanent solution for the child-welfare system.”
The village will have a Fall Kinship Festival on Saturday, November 12 from 11 a.m.–1 p.m.
“This is a picnic for kinship families and it will have food and games,” Halpern said.
Individuals who would like to learn more about New Life Village can visit www.newlifevillage.org or contact Halpern at 304-0623. New Life Village is located at 4926 Venice Lake Ave. in Tampa.