Desperate Times Turn into Heartfelt, Overflowing Gratitude
Early in 2017, because of funding priority changes, Villa Maria was faced with a $60,000 budget deficit. The pass-through HUD funds that come to the City of El Paso were earmarked for rapid re-housing and not Transition Living Centers (TLC’s) such as Villa Maria.
For close to 11 years, Villa Maria has been a safety net for women who suffer deep physical and psychological wounds due to domestic violence or sexual abuse, or who need a chance to begin life anew upon leaving jail or prison, or who are striving to be rooted on their substance abuse recovery path upon leaving treatment facilities. Being faithful to our mission to provide a beautiful, safe home for women who are homeless and whose children are not with them where our residents can transition from crisis to self-sustainability in an environment filled with dignity, respect and compassion must continue. From the beginning, Helen Santamaria and I have believed if this mission is meant to be, we will have what is needed. So filled with faith, Villa Maria Director Linda Velarde and I made the commitment to find the funds.
Immediately, Daughter of Charity Sister Emile Morgan invited us to submit a grant application to her community. Through Mary Jean Friel’s contacts in the Archdioceses of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Eileen Harrington and I were invited to do mission talks. Rene Weeks, Dominican of Peace, invited Villa Maria to submit a Shalom grant request to her community. Shortly after, Barbara Nicholas invited Villa Maria to submit a fund request to Loretto High School Alumnae Association, Louisville. Then an invitation came to submit a grant to the Caritas Anthonians, Italy. Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati Peggy Deneweth and Carol Wirtz support us weekly by offering massages and plasticity-of-the-brain exercises for our women. Their ongoing Villa Maria involvement allows us to apply to their community’s SC Ministry Foundation. Mary Nolan BVM blessed Villa Maria by inviting us and supporting us through the Sisters of Charity BVM Ministry Partnership application process. Loretto Special Needs and Hunger Fund continue to walk with us. El Paso Loretto Academy’s support is ever present, including two annual toilet paper drives organized by Liz Deines, which provide a year’s supply. A few weeks ago as Villa Maria was considering welcoming a Loretto Volunteer, we learned that Jane German and Eileen Harrington have donated money for the El Paso Volunteer Program that can be used to help Villa Maria pay for our Volunteer expenses. And then there is your ever present Loretto Community prayer support!
The reason for this heartfelt, overflowing gratitude can perhaps be best expressed by sharing this thank you note received from one of our residents who moved forward from Villa Maria: “With this letter I want to thank you for opening the doors of heaven, because I came from hell, had the soul empty and filled with loneliness. I felt that nothing made sense, but you taught me that there is another way of life where self-esteem and discipline are first in our lives. I will be forever grateful for the second chance and for reminding me how valuable I am in the eyes of God.”