Welcome back to the second leg of our road to Pinwheel Place. If you have ever driven on the highways and byways of New Jersey, you may have experienced what is affectionately called a “traffic circle”. It happens when the road you are on intersects with another major roadway. But instead of a normal traffic light, you are sent around a circle in the road … hoping the traffic that is supposed to let you merge does and that you are in the correct lane when you want to exit. Otherwise, you may find yourself back at the beginning! As Quady and I decided during the summer of 2015 that this was the time to fulfill our dream, we headed back to the beginning by traveling to Houston to visit where it began for me … Casa de Esperanza de Los Ninos.
Today’s Casa is not the Casa of 25 years ago. Their annual operating budget is now $3.8 Million, there are 10 houses built exclusively for them on one large piece of property (it takes a village!), they run an After-Care & Outreach program, they are authorized to perform Adoption Services and Post Adoption programs; and they run an Academy, a Development Center and Caseworker Services. This is all done through private funding and public donations! It is an example of what a handful of people can accomplish when they are motivated to help others.
One of the memorable parts of the trip was that the founders that I worked with 25 years ago are still the directors of Casa and met with us during our visit. They have adopted Casa children who are now grown , some are college graduates and one is a lawyer! We asked many questions of our hosts, were given examples of their literature and guidelines for training volunteers and House Parents and toured the homes they are running. In one of the houses the children gave us the tour! You could see the love and dedication of the staff reflected in the faces of the children. We left Casa with a feeling that our decision to open a private home in New Jersey, even though it won’t be easy, is one of the best decisions we could ever make and we were dedicated to making it happen!