New Beginnings, a 501(c)(3) not for profit, was founded in June 2007 by concerned community leaders who saw far too few services available in Central Florida for those losing their jobs and homes.
Today, New Beginnings of Central Florida offers social service offices in Kissimmee, Clermont and Winter Garden.
Our mission is to empower people to overcome the pain of poverty and the alienation of homelessness. New Beginnings offers comprehensive assistance to those who want to change.
- We have a residential program for those who qualify, offering 10 beds in our men’s house and 12 beds in our women’s house.
- We provide supportive housing cottages for families who need to recover from homelessness.
- We offer vouchers at our thrift stores to people in need, and our stores also create on-the-job training for clients in our program.
- We offer practical life skills classes on things like budgeting, interview skills, cooking-on-a-budget, and computer literacy. Clients take career aptitude tests and learn how to write a resume.
- On Saturdays, we rally churches and civic groups in 3 cities to provide neighbors with a hot meal, emergency groceries, clothing, resources and spiritual encouragement.
- We help people apply for aid including identification cards and other tools to battle poverty like Food Stamps, Medicaid or TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families).
- We distribute emergency food (in 2018, we gave away 5,148 bags…more than 500 bags every month.
- We offer social services to residents of Clermont’s newest 96-unit community, Woodwinds. We help fight poverty for working people.
- Every client meets with a licensed mental health counselor on our staff and a clinically trained caseworker.
- GED certification is required of every graduate who needs it.
- We offer educational tutoring for clients and their children.
- Each resident in our program is matched with a volunteer mentor and a volunteer financial advisor.
About Our Executive Director Stephanie Harris
Prior to taking over day-to-day operations for this local homeless and poverty-prevention ministry in 2017, Stephanie served as the Vice President of the Heart Walk for the American Heart Association in Orlando. She has also worked for the March of Dimes and the Salvation Army.
She is the mother of 2 daughters. She and her husband live in Clermont.
About Our Founder Steve Smith
Following a 40 year executive role in the banking and insurance industry, Steve and other community leaders launched New Beginnings in 2007. He serves as Treasurer for the Board of the Mid Florida Homeless Coalition, and the Lake County Housing Board. He was appointed to the Council of Homelessness by Governor Scott. He stepped down from leadership of New Beginnings in 2017 and has since begun another non-profit focused on affordable housing.
He and his wife, Linda have 4 adult children and 11 grandchildren.
Board Of Directors
- June 2007: New Beginnings launched with 12 volunteers to help the homeless in Clermont
- January 2008: Opened a home for 6 homeless men with training classes
- 2009: Face of Homeless changed focus to mom and kids
- September 2009: Acquired 16 bed home for moms and kids
- October 2009: Opened thrift store in Minneola
- January 2010: Started mentoring program for all residents
- March 2010: Launched Helping Hands Outreach with 4 churches
- created six community events to increase awareness–a pizza tasting event, Art for a Cause, the first fashion show, the golf tournament and a Christmas Gala
- August 2012: Opened Thrift Store in 4 Corners area & expanded Helping Hands Outreach into 4 Corners Area
- August 2013: Opened Learning and Development Center
- July 2013: Acquired home for former homeless families
- November 2013: Acquired 10 bed home for single men
- December 2013: Opened another home for former homeless families
- August 2014: Opened thrift store in Winter Garden
- December 2014: Acquired 4-plex apartment for former homeless
- December 2014: Acquired 10 acres to build 96 affordable apartments
- March 2015: Opened new Thrift Store in Clermont
- January 2016: acquired apartment for 6 working clients
- July 2016: Florida Housing awarded New Beginnings $19 million for affordable housing to be built
- September 2016: Opened drop in centers in Winter Garden and Kissimmee
- November 2016: Expanded Helping Hands Outreach into Winter Garden
- May 2017: celebrating 10 years of ministry at the Mulberry Inn.
- Welcomed Licensed Mental Health Counselor to staff.
- Welcomed a new Executive Director to carry on the legacy of our founders.
- Opened Woodwinds Apartments- 96 unit workforce housing apartments. Providing wrap around services with two case managers on site.
- 72% of New Beginnings residents graduated, securing full-time employment, establishing savings, a sound household budget and secured permanent housing.
- Established the Kids Club program serving and celebrating children through New Beginnings.
- Provided Christmas assistance for 90 children.
- 80% of New Beginnings residential clients graduated securing full-time employment, established savings account and a household budget.
- Established Social Services hours at West Orange Neighborhood Center in Winter Garden.
- Established Emergency Mobile Food Pantry in Four Corners.
- Provided Christmas Assistance for 65 families and at least one gift for 94 Children through the Kids Club program.
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