Life at Albergue Casa Hogar (ACH)
Each day begins when the children get up, shower, dress for the day in uniforms if going to school, and gather in the dining hall for a hot breakfast. Then many head off to public school (a long half day) -- the kids attend 5 or 6 different schools. Some of those with special needs attend afternoon schools, while the little ones who need it are tutored in the morning to help bring them up to grade level.
The children are all there for different reasons. Some have been there since they were three or four years old. For instance, one sixteen-year-old was at Albergue Casa Hogar (ACH) since she was four with her brother. They were placed at Casa Hogar from an abusive family. The younger brother studied in a shoe repair apprentice program to help prepare his transition out of Casa Hogar.
Another student came to Casa Hogar when he was ten years old. He had never been to school, so ACH provided remedial education half day until he was ready for regular school.
Public school in Mexico is not free above a certain grade, and in addition, there are books, school supplies, and uniforms to buy. The Casa Hogar Orphanage Inc (CHOI) donations help provide financial assistance, transportation, and often meals in such cases, so that the child can receive an education.
Casa Hogar Orphanage Inc (CHOI) volunteers work with local vendors and grantors in Mexico and the US to provide food and supplies. A lot of the supplies at Albergue Casa Hogar (ACH), such as the children’s mattresses and the kitchen’s stove and fridge, are donated.
The remodeled building and grounds, even the kitchen fixtures, were furnished almost totally by in kind donations. Church groups provided wood playscapes, new beds, and recently school supplies. Last year a large number of mattresses were purchased in the USA by CHOI donors and taken to ACH.
Super Mercado in Ojinaga, Mexico, and several other business give monthly grocery credit each month. The nearby Mennonite community frequently donates vegetables and cheese. A local baker periodically donates fresh bread and treats. Porter’s Thriftway in Presidio provides a $100 monthly store credit. CHOI President Petra Tucker and other volunteers cross the Rio Grande, which runs between Presidio and Ojinaga, to hand delivery goods to ACH in Mexico.
Administrative costs at CHOI, even the printing and mailing of the newsletter to donors, are paid for by members of the Board, usually through “in kind” donations. Directors pay their own expenses to attend Board meetings. Toys are donated at Christmas, and there is a dedicated treat closet used to award prizes for special occasions during the year.
Casa Hogar Orphanage Inc (CHOI) founder Teda Neill celebrates Christmas with children at Albergue Casa Hogar (ACH)
Teda Neill, now deceased, became involved with the Ojinaga children's shelter during her career as a social worker in Brewster County, Texas. She made trips to Ojinaga, Mexico, to bring donations where she met Ing. Miguel Torres, a Mexican engineer also now deceased, who had founded what is now Albergue Casa Hogar (ACH). A generous donor supplied a new space, and Casa Hogar Orphanage Inc (CHOI) was organized as a non-profit corporation for American donors. Today, ACH houses over 30 children that are placed by Desarrollo Integral de La Familia (DIF). DIF is similar to the USA version of Child Protective Services.
The growing number of volunteers continued to help with donations of food, clothes, and money, and the newly formed Casa Hogar Orphanage, Inc (CHOI) organized the U.S. donations. CPAs Wes and Victoria Bannister of Alpine established CHOI as a Texas non profit corporation and obtained 501 c(3) status from the IRS. CHOI now raises $70,000 per year which includes delivery of "in-kind" donations.
The Albergue Casa Hogar (ACH) directors are great about doing outside enrichment. For example, the 15 year old girls have a Quinceañera. If there is a parade in Ojinaga, most likely there will be a float with the ACH kids. Some high school students have come to give play performances to the kids. Some volunteers take them to the park. An ACH Director takes the students to her family home and swimming pool several times a summer at a ranch an hour or so away from ACH. If the circus comes to town, the kids are provided free tickets. In short, ACH provides a warm, supportive home.
We are sad to report that our beloved founder, Teda Neill, passed away Tuesday, May 12, 2015, in Carlsbad, NM, at the age of 102. She never tired of doing everything she could to promote the care of children. For more on Teda, see Annual Report.