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 mission of New Horizons Group Homes, Inc., is to Provide a family-oriented Christian group home living environment supporting adults with disabilities to achieve their highest potential for independence through a variety of services emphasizing faith, family, choice, independence, dignity and respect.
After drafting articles of incorporation and by-laws and obtaining non-profit status from the IRS, the search for suitable property was instituted. Concurrently, fund raising activities were begun. In June 1995, the property at 109 E. Clay Avenue in Brandon was identified as meeting the needs of the corporation and was purchased using contributions from the parents and funds obtained by fund raising. A $40,000 down payment was made and a loan obtained from Valrico State Bank for the balance of $104,000. In October 1996, New Horizons received a home-renovation deferred no-interest loan from HUD funds administered by Hillsborough County to make necessary improvements to the house. This work was completed in March 1997. Finally, on June 1, 1999, the Mary Lou Creamer Home opened with six ladies as residents. Mary Lou was one of the founders of the Special Ministries Department at FBC Brandon and of New Horizons. The dedication/open house was held in August of that year.
In May 2000, construction was started on the Alice Storms Home on the same property using additional HUD money. This house was completed in January 2002 and became a home for six men in September 2002. There are now eight residents in this home, which was named for the first, long-time director of the Special Ministries Department at First Baptist Church Brandon and one of the founders of New Horizons.
In July 2005, New Horizons paid off the loan from Valrico State Bank. The first two HUD loans have also been forgiven. Therefore, there is no mortgage on the first two homes.
In April 2016, New Horizons received another grant from Hillsborough County Affordable Housing to build the Peter and Brenda Watkins Home on the existing property on Clay Avenue. The building was completed and the certificate of occupancy was issued in October 2017, with
six men becoming residents in early December 2017. Peter and Brenda were among the founders of New Horizons, and have served on the board of directors from the beginning, with Peter serving as president most of those years.
The homes are licensed through the Agency for Health Care Administration as assisted living facilities. The residents are required to care for their own personal needs, contribute to the housekeeping duties of their residence, and, if able, work either at a business in the community or at a day program. They are encouraged to become all that God has created them to be, and they are active and productive members of the Brandon community. The residents enjoy the family atmosphere and many social activities.
The homes are sustained through monthly payments from the residents from their SSI or Social Security Disability payments. Additional funding is received through MedWaiver for qualified residents, as well as donations and fund raising. New Horizons Group Homes is a nonprofit 501(c)3 agency, FED ID#65-0372596.