EL PASO, Texas – A few basics of daily life like laundry detergent, toiletries and some medical essentials such as new dentures help 11 families with 30 children stay on track at a lower valley non-profit homeless shelter.
The Reynolds house shelters families –mostly women and their children– who have fled from domestic violence in Juarez and who need some help getting back on their feet. This low-key shelter opened its doors 20 years ago when Director Dorothy Truax’s mother inherited her parent’s house.
“The time she inherited it I had a brother who was working with homeless families and individuals and he used to bring them home to mom when he couldn’t find enough space. When she got this home she thought it would be a perfect place for the families.”
Throughout the last year-and-a-half the Reynolds house has housed an increase in families fleeing economic problems and the violence in Juarez. The majority of the residents, however, are there because of domestic violence. Even though the numbers have gone up, 90 percent of the women who come to the shelter for help graduate to their own apartments and their own incomes. The expectations that are encouraged by Truax, her brother, and all the volunteers are largely responsible for this high rate of success.
“They are connected to resources in the city, food stamps, and financial resources. They are taught how to use the bus systems,” Truax said. “We try to help them with bus transportation on occasion and they go out and learn that they can either go back to school or find jobs and save money.”
Half of the income the women earn goes to Reynolds to procure basic supplies such as detergent so there is no excuse for not doing laundry, and anything else that is donated is shared so the women can save their money and move to their own apartments.
As the shelter grows, it has looked to the community for more help. “We do access student services from UTEP and community college and the student volunteers have been tremendous for our families,” Truax said.
Reynolds also received a donation in December from the Frontera Women’s Foundation, which has given grants to non-profit organizations here since 2003. This needed donation will go to pay bills and maintain the upkeep of the shelter, Truax said. “Frontera Women’s Foundation is willing to help us with just the basics, which we badly need. We really couldn’t do it without Frontera Women’s Foundation.”
The Frontera Women’s Foundation is a Grant Making Public Foundation that provides grants to non-profit organizations that serve women and girls in the border community. They get their funding support from individuals who give donations, corporations and other foundations.
The foundation’s funds have also reached non-profit organizations in Juarez and throughout southern New Mexico. This young foundation, headed by Executive Director Pat Graham-Casey developed a half a million dollar endowment by 2006 to help better our community. “That endowment serves areas in the community such as scholarships for students in Juarez and El Paso. One is a community endowment; another one serves the border region in the Rio Grande Valley down to Brownsville,” Graham-Casey said.
Graham-Casey explains that Frontera has three main target areas: Domestic and street violence, women’s health care and their access to health care and economic development and micro enterprise for women in the community.
“If we can help just one person at a time we are making a social difference in the community,” Graham-Casey said. Frontera funding has touched the lives of many and those lives have touched hers, she said. One in particular – a diabetic father of four in his 60’s who only had nine teeth left came to Frontera for help.
“He came to the foundation and we were able to get him into a dental setting. He was fitted with a full set of dentures. His children as a treat for him had saved their money to be able to take him out to dinner with them, and told him how proud they were of him. That’s a pretty amazing story,” Graham-Casey said.
To learn more about Frontera Women’s Foundation or if you would like to make a donation log on to www.fronterawomensfoundation.org.