New Horizons Group Homes will host its annual barbecue and silent auction on Saturday, September 25 at the Central Baptist Christian School gymnasium from 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

In 1992, several parents, teachers and friends of members of the Special Ministries Department of First Baptist Church Brandon identified a need for long-term living facilities for developmentally disabled men and women. A committee was formed to investigate the requirements to undertake this task. Out of this group, New Horizons Group Homes, Inc. was born.

“The idea was to have homes that are based on Christian principles with a family atmosphere where the residents felt safe and comfortable and where they were encouraged to become all that God created them to be,” said Brenda Watkins of New Horizons Group Homes. “The first home for six ladies opened in 1999, the second one for six men opened in 2002 and the third for six men opened in 2017. The homes are located on the same piece of property on Clay Ave. in Brandon. Our daughter was one of the first residents in the ladies’ home, and she loves living there.”

New Horizons Group Homes now has 16 residents, with five of them working in the Brandon area and the others in day programs throughout the community.

“They are all able to take care of their own personal needs and have chores to do in the homes,” Watkins said. “They are active members of the Brandon community, participating in church activities, weekly bowling and various other activities. They have all shown growth as they are encouraged to reach their full potential.”

New Horizons Group Homes gets a lot of support from the community and from its annual barbecue.

“We began having the annual BBQ as a fundraiser 25 years ago, before the first home was opened,” Watkins said. “For many years, it was outside on our property, but we added the silent auction 12 years ago; we moved it to the Central Baptist Christian School gymnasium, and they have been very gracious to welcome us there every year since.”

The annual barbecue and silent auction are on Saturday, September 25 at the Central Baptist Christian School gymnasium from 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. The meal will be catered by BubbaQue’s BBQ and tickets are $20, which includes a delicious meal, great entertainment from the Dennis Lee Band and a large silent auction.

“Our goal this year is to raise at least $20,000 for much-needed maintenance and repairs,” Watkins said. “Unfortunately, we have lost several residents over the last two years; therefore, income has decreased, while expenses have increased. We really need sponsors to help with this event.”

If you would like to be a sponsor of New Horizons Group Homes’ annual barbecue or if you’d like to purchase a ticket to the event, you can call the New Horizons office at 571-2690 or Brenda Watkins at 653-2466.

If you would like to learn more about New Horizons Group Homes, you can visit their website at

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Libby Hopkins has been a part of the Brandon community for more than 30 years. She is a graduate of USF with a degree in journalism. She has been a freelance writer for The Osprey Observer Newspaper since 2008. She also the Executive Director of Center Place Fine Arts and Civic Association. She is a dog mom to her rescue dog, Marshall. She loves being a part of the Brandon Community and she loves sharing positive news about our community.