Hibiscus Village Celebrates 20 Years of Serving Youth

Hibiscus COO Rey Navarro shares the Village history at the Open House celebration.
May 16, 2024
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Hibiscus Village hosted an Open House on May 7th to celebrate its 20th Anniversary.  Guests had an opportunity to tour the Village and learn about its history.  Rey Navarro, Hibiscus Chief Operating Officer, shared how the Village began and the community support that made it possible. 


In 1997, the Indian River Guild held its first meeting to plan fundraisers that have raised over $9 million since they started.  In 2000, Vero residents Norman & Betty Gene Hensick generously donated a 4.3 acre lot in Vero Beach for the Village and a groundbreaking ceremony was held in 2002.   Dan Braden, local architect and Hibiscus founding board member, donated his services to design the Village. In May 2004, the Village opened its doors to youth and today it serves 90 teens annually. 


Hibiscus Village provides teens with educational and career training services to help them build a strong foundation for the future.  In 2011, Indian River Impact 100 awarded a $100,000 grant for the Career Pathways to Independence Program and another $100,000 grant in 2017 for the Graphic Design Impact Center.  In 2020, Chef Leanne, owner of The Tides, partnered with Hibiscus to create a Culinary program.  Teens learn marketable and life skills through these programs and have on-site and community internship and employment opportunities.  Additionally, the Village has an Academic Achievement Center which provides educational services and youth are encouraged to get their high school diploma or GED.

In 2018, the Village Fortification Project began to fortify the homes with new roofs and generators so that staff and youth can shelter in place during a natural disaster.  The Village continues to provide safety and life-changing services every day to teens ages 12-17.    Mental health counseling is also provided to youth by master level clinicians.  Staff are trained in the Sanctuary Model, a trauma-informed care approach that promotes healing and safety.

There are many tragic stories of children who have suffered abuse and been removed from their homes. But at Hibiscus, there are also many stories of children finding a second chance at having a safe, stable, and loving home.  A sibling set of four, twins aged 12, 14 and 15 years, were placed at  Hibiscus Village due to abandonment and parents’ substance abuse issues. When the teens arrived, they had no clothes or shoes, were malnourished and had been living in a dangerous environment. 

Immediately, the Village staff and volunteers addressed the items the teens desperately needed. Mental Health Counselors began working with the teens to help them transition and work through the trauma they had experienced. For possibly the first time, the teens enjoyed home cooked meals prepared by the house parents and were able to sleep knowing they were safe.

Thank you to our community for helping Hibiscus change the lives of youth for 20 years!  For more information, please visit us at HibiscusChildrensCenter.org or contact Michelle King, CDO, at [email protected] or (561) 452-5791.

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