Tuesday morning, the Opportunity Center for the Homeless officials announced the organization’s La Casa de Abuelitos program, which will serve El Paso’s elderly and frail homeless population.
Center officials share that this program was made possible, in part, due to Bank of America’s $40,000 donation, helping address the needs of a uniquely vulnerable community in El Paso.
“Homelessness exacts a costly physical toll, and many homeless people 50 years or older often exhibit the physical state of someone 20 years their senior,” said the Opportunity Center for the Homeless Deputy Director, John Martin.
“There are already significant challenges facing them, and the generous support of organizations like Bank of America make it possible to ease some of these challenges and offer safety, stability, and long-term care to folks who really need it.”
La Casa de los Abuelitos offers intensive case management and extended shelter as the Opportunity Center works to find long-term housing solutions for those in their care. In many cases, program participants need to be placed in foster care or even assisted living, and Abuelitos will play a critical role in meeting those needs in a safe environment.
“Partnering with Opportunity Center, the City of El Paso and others on this endeavor is just another example of how the public, private and nonprofit sectors working together can create meaningful solutions that will make a lasting impact on our community,” said Kristi Marcum, President, Bank of America El Paso. “El Paso is a vibrant, compassionate community, and we’re honored to support the Opportunity Center as they build a foundation for the Abuelitos program, providing crucial services to El Paso’s most vulnerable homeless community.”
The City of El Paso’s Community Development Director, Nicole Ferrini, indicated that they are delighted to be part of providing meaningful support to individuals in need. “This happens when we work together and invest in compassionate and innovative solutions that save lives and create better tomorrows.”
The Willie Sanchez Rosales Family Center itself has a unique history. This revitalization pays tribute to its original legacy – more than a hundred years ago, the building was operated by the Associated Charities of El Paso, a precursor to the United Way, as a shelter for homeless men, and pioneered work therapy opportunities for the homeless.
In 2013, Mr. Joe Rosales and his family donated the building to the Opportunity Center for the Homeless to create another support venue for vulnerable populations in the community.
“Without knowing the history of the building, my wife and I purchased this property in South El Paso with the intent of opening a homeless shelter for those most in need. Partnering with the Opportunity Center has enabled us to bring our dream of helping the homeless to reality. Regardless of the age or circumstance surrounding homelessness, we are proud to see the building serving a growing need for elderly in our El Paso,” said Joe Rosales, founder of JAR Construction.
“Our United Way is proud to be a part of a group of organizations and companies who have come together to support our community’s most vulnerable,” said Deborah A. Zuloaga, President & CEO of UWEPC. “Together, we can help El Pasoans meet their most basic needs and ensure the future is better for all.”
In addition to Bank of America’s support, the program is partnering with the City of El Paso, United Way of El Paso County (UWEPC), and the Rosales family. The facility will be located in the storied Willie Sanchez Rosales Family Center.
Center officials say that the necessary improvements are underway to revitalize the 100-year-old building, obtain ADA compliance and become the permanent home for La Casa de Abuelitos.
“The initiative has already accepted 21 individuals and expects to serve 35-40 at total capacity,” officials added. “Nearly one-third of the homeless population in El Paso is classified as elderly and/or frail, and this program offers critical support to an underserved community.”
Renovations to the Casa de los Abuelitos are expected to be complete within the next few months.