Have you ever noticed how popular the word “casa” is among Catholic people who are striving to lessen the pain that they find around them in our battered society? Casa Esperanza, Casa Marienalla, Casa this and Casa that. I think that it might be that the word sounds so peaceful and welcoming and these special programs need to generate that image as they reach out to people in trouble.
One of my favorite casas is Casa Esperanza de los Ninos in Houston and it is in the process of celebrating 30 years of extraordinarily effective work – awesome work, in fact! Thirty years ago, back in 1982, Kathy Foster, a young woman working in a halfway house for emotionally disturbed mothers and their children, was painfully aware that more and more children were finding themselves completely abandoned. Maybe there was only one parent and death entered the scene. Maybe it was the local police or the Immigration Naturalization Service that would separate a single parent from a child. Kathy saw the problem and decided to do something about it. Gathering a few dedicated friends with limited resources, she secured the use of one four-bedroom house and opened the doors of Casa Esperanza de los Ninos. Then the miracle began to unfold.
Kathy opened a development center in 1985, an in-house medical clinic in 1986, admitted the first child with HIV/AIDS in 1987, made the first adoption in 1988, placed its 100th adoption in the year 2000 and in 2008 opened a new “Casa” neighborhood – seven large homes in one location. I cannot do justice to the extraordinary accomplishments that Kathy and her co-workers achieved. However, it is well to point out that the Casa was featured on the NBC Today Show last year and that Kathy was inducted in the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame. If anyone ever deserved that honor, she did. Casa now operates ten separate homes and in each of them the children are cared for in a loving, secure family manner. A great number of lives have been changed because of one woman’s vision and generosity. Congratulations to Casa and thank you, Kathy.
Last year’s budget for Casa Esperanza de los Ninos is nearly $6 million!