Making a Difference!
It was July 2017 when Natalie Villard felt panic coming over
her. The 23-year-old was juggling two jobs while going to
college and sharing a house with three other students. Then
her housemates all decided to move out. She couldn’t pay the
$1,500 monthly rent herself.
After being homeless two other times (one where she lived
in her car and had to ‘dumpster dive’ for food), Natalie felt
the dangers of her plight. Her family lived in South Florida.
Moving back there wasn’t ideal due to family dynamics and
she knew she’d have to give up her jobs and drop out of
school. “I needed a ‘safety net.’
She found that safety net, a place to sleep (and a lot more) at
The Village, a transitional housing program for homeless and
former foster youth between the ages of 18 and 24. Without
family support, these youth are at risk for a multitude of
Located in Winter Park’s “32792” zip code in Seminole
County, The Village offers a dorm-style setting where youth
have their own bedrooms but share common areas.
The program’s cornerstone is the help youth receive through
case management, life-skills training and other supports from
Village staff, including a Career Services Specialist. The strong
relationships that develop are the foundation of the program’s
The comradery among residents, staff, and volunteers are
evident. Recently they challenged each other to a cook-off,
complete with a water slide for after cook off fun.
The Village only has room for 15 at any one time, The Village
has expanded its services to include homeless prevention.
“Through case management, housing navigation, and rapid
rehousing efforts, we may be able to keep a young person
from becoming homeless
in the first place,” said
Marcie Dearth, Vice
Relations for IMPOWER,
the mental health
and child well-being
organization that runs
The Village program
has many needs,
of furniture, food,
hygiene items and
volunteers (from teaching a life skills class and landscape
upkeep to tutoring). “It truly takes a Village to help these
youth beat the odds and get the skills necessary to transition
successfully into adulthood,” said Dearth.
As for Natalie, she says she has become more self-reliant in
the year she has been living at The Village. She has focused
her educational and career goals and sharpened her life skills
and ability to advocate for her own needs.
Soon she will finish a two-year program at Valencia College
where she majors in American Sign Language Interpreting
(ASL). She still works multiple jobs and hopes to move into
her own place this fall. “The Village gave me the family in
Orlando that I needed,” she said.
If you would like to donate your time, money, goods
or you would just like more information on
“The Village” please go to
SATURDAY, JUNE 15, 2019
CommunityCornerLLC.com • Your Source for Saving Money • Delivered Monthly to You 7