VERO BEACH, Fla. — The pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for nonprofit organizations across the region, including the Hibiscus Children’s Center.
Hibiscus has had to cancel all fundraising events during the pandemic while managing the rising cost of care.
“We will take care of the child as long as it takes,” said Matt Markley, Chief Executive Officer of the Hibiscus Children's Center. “We’ve had some kids with us for a week, two weeks, a month, or even years. We operate 24/7 and we never close our doors.”
Hibiscus Children’s Center has been protecting and advocating for children for 35 years.
Since the organization was founded in 1985, more than 3,000 abused, abandoned, and neglected children across the Treasure Coast have received services.
Many former residents credit the Hibiscus Children’s Center for establishing a foundation for success.
“The resources, counseling, and the love,” said Chloe Henry “I was around staff that genuinely cared about me.”
Henry moved to the Hibiscus Children’s Center in Jensen Beach when she was around 11 years old.
Even though she remembers the challenges she faced during her transition, she believes she was able to overcome her struggles with support from the staff.
“It is such an awesome treasure and a resource that plays such a critical role,” Henry said.
It’s been more than 20 years since Henry lived at the shelter and she is still a dedicated volunteer.
Henry is now a mother of two daughters and says the love she has for her two daughters stems from the encouragement she received from the Hibiscus Children’s Center.
“I’m thankful for my moms,” Henry said.
Hibiscus provides services across the Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River, and Okeechobee Counties through community outreach programs and two residential facilities - the Hibiscus Shelter in Jensen Beach and the Village in Vero Beach.
The Village is a safe haven in a home-like environment for up to 40 youth who have been removed from their own abusive homes.
“Once and a while we provide shelter for infants,” said Caroline Vinyard, Chief Operating Officer of the Hibiscus Children's Center. “Recently, the youngest child we had was an infant. She was 6 months old, but in terms of development she was about 3 months old.”
Services provided to middle and high school students include tutoring, career training, and on-site and community internships.
In addition to a focus on education, the youth receive professional mental health counseling from master-level clinicians and our staff is trauma-trained.
The Hibiscus Children’s Center relies on the community for support.
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