New Horizons Group Home located in Brandon offers mentally challenged adults an opportunity to live independently in a family-oriented setting.

New Horizons Group Home, located at 109 Clay Ave. in Brandon, provides a family-oriented Christian group home. Its mission is to provide a supporting environment for adults with disabilities to achieve their highest potential for independence through a variety of services, emphasizing faith, family, choice, independence, dignity and respect.

New Horizons Group Home began as a dream in 1991. Alice Storms was the first long-term director of the Special Ministries Department at First Baptist Church Brandon. Storms and others were concerned about the mentally challenged adult population. The group formed a 501(c)(3). The first home, the Mary Lou Creamer House, opened in June 1999 and became home to six ladies.

Then, in May 2000, they started a second home; the Alice Storms Home opened in January 2002 and became home for six men. In April 2016, the third home, the Peter and Brenda Watkins Home, opened.

New Horizons Group Home serves mentally challenged adults who are able to take care of their own personal needs, work in the community or attend day programs. They live in homes with their housemates in a family atmosphere.

Brenda Watkins, secretary of the board of directors and one of the founders of the organization, said, “Residents can stay as long as we are able to care for their physical needs. We are not licensed to give nursing care. This is meant to be their home for as long as possible.”

The residents work, volunteer or attend day programs. They also attend special events for holidays and other events, such as birthday parties, as well as dances for special needs people.

Watkins said, “Our residents enjoy living with their friends. They feel independent because they are living on their own away from their parents, but they are supervised 24/7. They are able to visit with their families whenever they want. I have seen over the years that they all have blossomed, including our daughter, who has been there for 24 years. She enjoys coming to our home to visit but is always more than ready to get back to her home. What more can a parent ask for?”

Residents must be at least 21 years old. New Horizons Group Home currently has 16 residents. It has three openings, but there is a waiting list.

New Horizons Group Home receives MedWaiver for residents. They pay a nominal rent.

Donations are accepted to help with overall expenses.

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