For Sister Claire LeBoeuf, founding New Life Village (NLV) was the culmination of her lifelong ambition and her determination to make a difference in the foster care system. Sister Claire, as she is affectionately called, has a heart for children in foster care. She originally founded this community as a way to reduce the number of children in foster care, especially those that have historically lingered in the system.
The mission of New Life Village is to provide a supportive environment to its 104 residents, within an intergenerational community, for children in need of a safe, stable and permanent family experience.
According to Executive Director Mariah Hayden, the community has evolved over the years.
“Hillsborough County has the most children in foster care in the state,” said Hayden.
This 12-acre community contains 32 townhomes that house multigenerational family units.
“The residents here range from grandparents that are now raising their grandchildren or foster parents that have taken in sibling groups, or single mothers that are reunited with their children from foster care,” said Hayden.
As the saying goes, “It takes a village,” and NLV takes this concept literally. It pairs residents in need of services with local partner agencies to guarantee each family is receiving resources and support for their wellness and vocational needs.
Seniors 55 and older that live at NLV serve as surrogate grandparents and mentors to the children and families that also live there. The complex also contains a playground, a pool and a 3,000-square-foot clubhouse that includes a learning center. Unfortunately, during COVID-19, the recreational activities were closed; however, the support among the families that live there is stronger than ever.
“During COVID, we partnered with Feeding Tampa Bay to bring food to residents that may have been affected financially by recent events,” said Hayden.
Recently, the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners recommended a 1.7 million-dollar grant to fund additional housing needed to meet the needs of the families that have applied to live at NLV.
There will be a Lunch & Learn on Wednesday, July 15 for people to tour the facility and learn more about how to support this concept, which is the only one of its kind currently in Florida.
To sign up, call 304-0623 or visit www.newlifevillage.org. It is located at 4926 Venice Lake Ave. in Tampa.