Loretto Volunteer’s heart is with those who suffer
There is no justice to be found within the current system. It doesn’t give offenders a chance to excel once they exit the criminal justice system, and our country’s inadequate mental healthcare system doesn’t offer support to victims of violence.Hayley Morgan, Loretto Volunteer, El Paso, Texas
Hayley Morgan, below, Loretto Volunteer, serves in El Paso, Texas, with the Opportunity Center for the Homeless (the OC), a community resource organization providing safe shelter, food and support services for people experiencing homelessness. Hayley’s work is deeply rooted in Loretto’s legacy of working for justice and acting for peace.
The Opportunity Center works on both sides of the justice system, helping those with criminal backgrounds — those who might not otherwise be able to gain shelter — and also helping victims of violence. Many women living in the OC’s Women’s Resource Shelter face too many challenges to transition to their own housing due to addiction, severe mental health issues and a lack of community resources. Through partnerships at the OC, many receive mental health, addiction and physical health services.
“Beyond merely offering a respite from the difficulties of poverty and living on the streets, the OC cultivates a community,” Haley says. “Birthdays are excitedly celebrated and cupcakes are brought so they may rejoice. I never doubted that the residents would be complex human beings, but I find the kindness of many of them to be astonishing. Particularly as I hear the details of their lives, I’m in awe of the strength of their characters and how they still maintain kindness.
I’m really thankful for the community that I’ve created and the connection I’ve been able to create with some of the members of the greater Loretto Community. I enjoy the intersectional relationship I have with Sister Elisa Rodriguez. I’ve appreciated hearing about her life and her service as both a Sister of Loretto and the head of the Women’s Resource Center at the Opportunity Center. I also love my Loretto Volunteer community in El Paso.
“I take a lot of joy in the administrative role I’ve played within the team. I am shocked at all the work that goes into operating a shelter system of this size. Many of the staff members put so much of themselves into the work.” Hayley’s administrative work has helped facilitate housing for more than one hundred households for the OC’s Rapid ReHousing Program.
The Loretto Community’s work for justice and actions for peace are adaptive, rooted in and shaped by community in our past, present and future.
Photos courtesy of Annie Rosenkranz
Read the Loretto Magazine Winter 2021 issue in full here.