The Hibiscus Shelter

A child is not defined by what happened yesterday, but rather by the hope of what comes tomorrow.

*(Name has been changed to protect identity)

Five-year-old Sara came to the Hibiscus Children’s Shelter in Jensen Beach in 2010.  She was removed from her family due to severe neglect. The home she was removed from was considered hazardous and unsafe to live in. Sara was placed in a foster home for a short time until the foster mother requested she be removed due to behavior issues. This little girl was not potty trained and had never been exposed to any kind of a structured environment or normal family life.  She was anemic and refused to eat anything other than starchy foods.  Her hair was dull, brittle, and broke off in your hands. Due to the lack of structure and no previous exposure to a classroom environment, she had a very difficult time in Kindergarten. The school called the foster parent daily to pick her up from school, which put the foster parent at great risk of losing her job.

When Sara was placed at the Hibiscus Children’s Shelter, all these behaviors and issues were apparent to the staff.  The school contacted the Shelter regarding the ongoing behavior challenges.  Immediately, the Shelter staff assembled the necessary team members – Supervisor, Counselor, Educational Coordinator, and as a team, they met with the school and put a plan into motion. Sara was placed in a special class and received the additional attention and help she desperately needed.  At the Shelter, her needs were addressed through counseling and play therapy that enabled Sara to express her feelings as a young child and gave the professional therapists the insight needed to help her begin the healing process.  Within two months, Sara was like a different child. She was fully potty trained and a star student.  She was experiencing the joys of childhood and developing appropriate age-level skills she needed to move forward in life.

Sara has a special place in the hearts of those who have watched her bloom. She is a beautiful and sweet young girl who has been allowed to blossom and grow in a safe and secure environment where she knows she is valued and loved.  Although she is still a picky eater, she is at a healthy weight and the staff ensures she receives the nutrition she needs on a daily basis.  One of the highlights of her new journey with Hibiscus Children’s Center is that she smiles instead of cries.  She is excited about school and learning everyday. Recently, we learned there is a loving foster home available for her. We are excited for her and confident she will be successful in this home due to the loving, structured care she has received at Hibiscus Children’s Center, in addition to the hundreds of hours staff and volunteers have spent with her to build her self-esteem and confidence.  We will miss Sara when she leaves us but are thrilled to see her progress and for the many wonderful opportunities that lay ahead for this special young girl. 

Thank you to the staff, volunteers and supporters who probably didn’t know Sara’s name, but nonetheless, have made a significant impact in her young life.  Because of you – Sara is smiling and has a brighter future.