For 20 years Henderson Haven has been advocating for a more fully inclusive environment for those with developmental disabilities, and has helped to ensure their success utilizing our services.  Sometimes we ruffle feathers by going against the norm: Just because you’ve always done it that way, doesn’t mean it’s the right way to do it! We’ve proven our point by helping families find success for their loved ones. Throughout the year, we’ll be celebrating our 20th anniversary and laying the groundwork for an exciting future for us, and for those we serve!  Join us as we celebrate throughout the year with special events and projects ending in August 2024 with our final celebration extravaganza!


Take a look back at the milestones that have helped make us who we are and how we helped families for over the past 20 years.

Employee/Volunteer Partners

Whether they have been with us from day one, or they just started, our employees, volunteers, and partners are who makes those we serve successful. We’ll be spotlighting some of them here. Check back over the year as we’ll be adding profiles regularly.

Family Testimonials

Join us in honoring our families! Past and present alike have been sending us best wishes for this 20th year and for all those to come.  Keep checking back as we continue to add to this celebration list.

Future Plans

Don’t think we’re done!  We have great plans for the future of Henderson Haven and all those we serve and will serve.  You can join our Doors to Independence Campaign and help make it all happen!


The First 20 Years

In 2003, Henderson Haven (HH) began providing services under the Medicaid Waiver program in Florida – a program providing funding for community based and residential based services. Knowing Florida offered very little in terms of providing choice and inclusion, we were determined to help ensure everyone was given this opportunity. This started our journey of trying to find creative ways to fill the gap of meeting the needs for those we serve in all our programs. From advocacy to full inclusive living, our programs needed to reach all ages and perceived functioning levels as well as working with families to help fulfill their needs. By presuming competence in every individual we serve, utilizing a full range of tools and skills, and partnering with other agencies, we’re able to see results unattainable by programs relying on a single discipline, such as ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) or other therapies, which focus on the problem and not the individual.


Henderson Haven, Inc. was incorporated as a 501c-3 non- profit organization to begin serving families in five Northeast Florida counties.


Henderson Haven created, Free 2 Be Me, a private-pay program to bridge the gap of care needed after school for children and their families.


Henderson Haven began Camp Possible to provide engaging recreational summer activities for students with disabilities.


Henderson Haven created special social events to provide breaks for caregivers & a wonderful experience for those with special needs to interact with their peers.


Henderson Haven partnered with the Broach Schools to provide an all- day private school option to address the need for students to achieve the success seen in our other programs.


Henderson Haven partnered with Project C.H.A.N.C.E. to bring behavioral service dogs into our programs.


Henderson Haven adds the Metamorphoses program to provide a transition and pre-vocational program to adults with developmental disabilities.


Henderson Haven acquires the additional 6000 square feet at the current building location to serve the growing program need.


After Trey’s early onset Alzheimer’s, Sherri published the book, Picture Memories, to help Trey, his friends, and many dementia patients across the country understand the changes they are experiencing.


Sherri’s second book is published. Different Like Me was taken from a poem Sherri wrote for Trey when he asked, “Why did God make me different?” It can help all kids understand everyone is different and that makes us all special.


I first met Lee Henderson while working as a housekeeper at a hotel. When they started Henderson Haven, I was offered a job and began working there when my son was 3 years old. I had high hopes for my son’s future, but as we visited specialty doctors, it became clear that his potential was being challenged. However, when I started working at Henderson Haven, I witnessed individuals with different abilities living fulfilling lives with support. This gave me hope for my son’s future – the belief that he could have friends, a job, and even get married.

My son faces challenges with learning, social interaction, and communication. While he attended school, he participated in the after-school program at Henderson Haven. The staff there showed exceptional creativity in helping him overcome his educational challenges, as he learns differently than others. They also taught him problem-solving skills for social situations. At home, we worked together, following the same strategies as the staff at Henderson Haven.

What stands out about Henderson Haven is their determination. They never give up and keep searching until they find what works best for each child. I have recommended Henderson Haven to other families who have approached me, seeking help for their own children.

To Sherri, Lee, and the entire Henderson Haven family, I urge you to keep doing what you’re doing because it’s truly making a difference. It fills me with joy to witness the individuals we have worked with using the skills we have helped them develop in the community.

Sandra, 20 year employee

Discovering this field of work has been a completely new adventure for me. Initially, I had very limited knowledge about working with children with special needs. However, the Henderson’s saw potential in me and took a chance by giving me an opportunity. Since then, I have come to realize that these kids are just like any other child and deserve to be treated as such. It brings me immense joy to witness their incredible growth and see them surpass their previous limitations through focused and tailored learning.

Henderson Haven is truly unique in the sense that they welcome children who may have faced greater difficulties elsewhere. Unlike other school systems, they take the time to truly understand each student on a personal level, exploring alternative methods of learning. Their outside-the-box thinking and creative approach to finding solutions is commendable.

It’s remarkable to witness the progress these students have made. Some of them couldn’t even write their own names when they first joined the program, and now they are confidently reading and writing words and comprehending their meanings.

Parents have expressed how their children have become more expressive at home and have gained the ability to self-soothe and handle redirections more effectively.

The remarkable individuals at Henderson Haven possess huge hearts and work tirelessly to cater to the unique needs of each student. They see them for who they are, not defined by their disabilities.

Congratulations on reaching the incredible milestone of 20 years! Your unwavering dedication to the students has not gone unnoticed and is making a profound impact on the community. I firmly believe that without this program, these students might not have had the opportunity to thrive and reach their full potential.

Stella, 6 month employee

I had the pleasure of meeting Lee and Sherri Henderson when they were running an after school program near our Orange Park campus. After getting to know them and their program, we realized that both of our non-profit organizations were serving the same group of students – those with special needs. Lee and Sherri expressed their desire to open a school for these students but weren’t sure where to start. As the President of the Broach School, I suggested that we partner with them and open a private school, offering state-funded scholarships. The rest, as they say, is history.

In May of 2014, we held an informational meeting for parents and by August of that year, the school was open. This year, we are celebrating our 10th year at the Broach School – Free 2 Be Me campus and the interest is stronger than ever. Thanks to Sherri’s guidance, we can serve students with complex needs that were overlooked in public schools.

Sherri and her staff are dedicated to helping everyone reach their maximum potential in both academics and life skills. Our program focuses on helping these students become as independent as possible and find their purpose in contributing to society.

We maintain a very low student to teacher ratio to ensure that each student receives the attention they need to reach their full potential. The success we’ve seen has been life-changing for both the individuals and their families. We are incredibly proud to partner with Henderson Haven and provide a school where these students can thrive. Congratulations on your 20th anniversary!

Kathy, President of The Broach Schools


Family Testimonials

When my son A.J.’s teacher recommended Henderson Haven, it was a lifesaver. No other program or camp would accept him due to his behavioral issues. Henderson Haven not only accepted him, but they also made a tremendous impact on his life.

They helped A.J. learn to speak in sentences, enhanced his education, improved his social skills, addressed his behavioral issues, and even helped me navigate the process of finding a group home for him. Sherri Henderson truly went above and beyond.

My son’s challenges were some of the most difficult Henderson Haven had ever seen. But they didn’t give up on him. They helped A.J. communicate, showed him love, and even recommended he attend another school to better accommodate his needs.

The impact on our family has been immeasurable. We finally live normal lives again, without the constant stress and fear. Our son has improved in behavior, learned new things, and has 24-hour care. Henderson Haven has been a true blessing.

I highly recommend Henderson Haven and continue to support them financially. They are truly a gift from God.

On your 20th anniversary, I want to say thank you for everything and may God bless you. Happy anniversary!

Sharon Austin, Mother of A.J.
Struggling to find quality care for our non-verbal son, Jeffery, was always a battle. Most places turned us away due to his constant need for one-on-one supervision. However, Henderson Haven welcomed Jeffery with open arms and worked with us to meet all his needs. They have become like an extended family for him, providing a safe and caring environment where he can socialize and participate in fun activities.

Even after Jeffery graduated school, we needed a place for him to be around others, and Henderson Haven was the perfect fit. Their impact on Jeffery is immeasurable – they have provided him with a supportive community of people who genuinely care about him.

Not only have they helped Jeffery with his daily living needs, but they have also found ways to include him in social settings. This has allowed us to work and function without constant worry about his care. Henderson Haven has given us the respite we need to stay mentally and physically able to care for Jeffery without sacrificing our own well-being. We are grateful for the things that most people take for granted but we have been able to do, thanks to Henderson Haven.

We wholeheartedly recommend Henderson Haven for their quality care, love, and compassion. They have truly been a haven for our son, Jeffery, and for us as well. We want to express our heartfelt thanks to Henderson Haven for always keeping a smile on our son’s face.

Congratulations on this anniversary of being a haven for so many individuals and families in need.

Cindy Hiter, Mother of Jeffery Hiter

Due to behavioral issues my son Daniel was kicked out of his daycare. This left me unable to work and desperate to find a daycare that would accept him. I’ll never forget the day I walked into Henderson Haven and met Sheri. I told her about Dan and his behaviors, I really didn’t expect her to accept Dan into their program, but she told me I had come to the right place. Even more amazing, she promised Dan would not be asked to leave the program and that their staff was trained to handle behaviors like his. To say that my son gave them a run for the money is a huge understatement, but true to her word Sherri never asked us to leave!!

During his time at Henderson Haven Sherri and Lee not only worked with him but also guided and supported me and my daughters through many rough times. Sherri is amazing, she’s a wealth of information, a shoulder to cry on, and someone who truly cares about the children and families she works with. Even after Dan left the program I could always stop in for advice and encouragement. Recently Dan came full circle and volunteered to help with their summer program, which led to him working for the daycare he once attended. Because of their help and encouragement, Dan was successful and proud to be helping other kids like himself.

Henderson Haven has been a blessing to Daniel and our entire family. I would definitely recommend the program at Henderson to anyone with a child who need a little extra TLC.

Henderson Family, Wow 20 years, Congratulations!!! You guys are amazing, thank you for all you’ve done for Dan, our family, and all the other children who were lucky enough to find your program. You guys do make a difference in the lives of the children and families of Clay County, you are loved and appreciated!!!

Debbie Siewert, Mother of Daniel

Our family first became involved with Henderson Haven when we needed in-home personal care aides. We were introduced to the Hendersons through their services at the Clay County Fair many years ago.

Henderson Haven has had a significant impact on our son, Jason Swink. Through their Facilitated Communication (FC) program, they were able to enhance his communication skills and help us understand his interests, intelligence, and sense of humor.

One of the challenges we faced with Jason was his aggression as a teenager. However, Henderson Haven was able to manage his outbursts, implement safety interventions, and keep him engaged and enrolled in their programs. This positive impact on Jason has had a profound effect on our entire family. We no longer lived in constant fear of his outbursts, allowing us to enjoy a more peaceful and harmonious home life.

Without hesitation, we would highly recommend Henderson Haven. They create individualized care plans for each child and never give up on them, even if they face difficulties. They have truly unlocked our son’s full potential.

On this special occasion of Henderson Haven’s 20th anniversary, we want to express our gratitude for always being there and never giving up. We wish you continued success as a beacon of hope for families like ours, striving to provide the best life possible for their disabled children.

Leslie Swink, Mother of Jason

By a stroke of luck, my sister found Henderson Haven and I immediately reached out to Sherri. Words cannot fully express how much Henderson Haven has meant to Tristan and me. With Tristan being non-verbal and having specific special needs, Sherri and her team have gone above and beyond to address each one, leading to improvements in his behavior, receptive language, and acquisition of new skills. Last year, when Tristan was experiencing severe undiagnosed pain, Henderson Haven stepped in and provided support while we sought medical help.

Tristan has been a part of their community for over 10 years now, starting from the after-school program and transitioning into the adult program. As a father, Henderson Haven has truly had a profound impact on my life as a father, as they have allowed me to continue working with the peace of mind knowing that Tristan is in incredibly capable hands.

There is so much more I could say, but I wholeheartedly recommend Henderson Haven for your special need child or adult. They will not only receive the necessary care and support but will also flourish within a loving and nurturing environment.

David Alvarez, Father of Triston


Donate to Help With Our Future Plans

Click below to see Henderson Haven’s plans for further expansion to meet the growing needs of children and adults with disabilities in Northeast Florida.

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