By Katie Camario

New Life Village Helps Foster Children Thrive

The New Life Village community was built to solve two big issues facing our community: children in need of foster care and low-income seniors in need of affordable housing.

That’s because this community of low-income residences are available only to families of foster children, or senior citizens serving as surrogate grandparents, tutors, mentors, and advisors to the families raising the children.

“We really are that old fashioned community, like the ones a lot of us grew up in, where everybody works together to raise a child. It's basically living the African proverb, it takes a village to raise a child,” said Mariah Hayden, Executive Director of New Life Village.

Peggy Blanchard, a senior who lives at New Life Village, learned about the campus in AARP Magazine. Following the death of her husband she decided to make the move.

“It’s about helping kids and people find their own pathway to become bigger than think they can be,” said Blanchard.

The housing community was founded in 2012 in the Palm River area of Tampa, by Sister Claire LeBoeuf of the Sisters of the Holy Cross. Through various partnerships and donations, the community continues to expand. In the Fall of 2021, they broke ground on an expansion that will add 16 new townhomes to the existing 32.

“It’s very heartening to know that New Life Village will exist and grow for years to come. There will always be a need for safe, stable, and permanent homes for children who have yet to experience one,” said Sister Claire.

“The goal is to empty the foster care system through adoption.”

Hillsborough County has the highest number of children placed in foster care in Florida and New Life Village stands out as the only one of its kind, with its “village” approach.

“We’re a unique community. We’re the only community of its kind in Florida. We are a kind of apartment complex with a mission,” said Mariah Hayden.

For Sister Claire, the mission continues, and help is always needed and accepted.

“We welcome assistance from the public and local parishes. Perhaps, New Life Village will expand to other counties and continue to serve families,” said Sister Claire.


If you would like to volunteer or help the community at New Life Village visit https://newlifevillage.org/volunteer-2-2/

Elle Spada contributed to this article.