Each room sports brightly colored walls. Monarch butterfly art – a symbol of growing and learning – is scattered throughout the home. The new pre-school building has play areas designed to nurture a child’s imagination.
This is the home of La Casa Hogar, a bustling presence in the farming community of Yakima, Wash., whose mission is to connect and educate Latina families and transform lives in the Yakima Valley.
Its roots date back to 1986 when 35 faith communities in the Yakima Interfaith Coalition (YIC) began serving people in their neighborhood. YIC was incorporated as a non-profit two years later and in 2012 was officially renamed La Casa Hogar.
Throughout its thirty years of service, the Sisters of Providence have been volunteering and helping the ministry. Since La Casa Hogar sits next door to the Sisters’ own house near downtown Yakima there are strong ties between the Sisters and the non-profit. So strong, in fact, that in 1996 the Sisters donated the house where La Casa Hogar now hosts most of its programming. The Sisters even scrubbed and cleaned the house to help create the welcoming, happy atmosphere it now has.
The 20 employees, many of whom are former clients, are supported by community volunteers and focus on adult education, preschool and citizenship education/legal services.
Adult classes include multiple levels of English as a Second Language and GED preparation. They also have women support groups, drivers ed and computer classes.
The preschoolers attend three days a week, while their mothers take part in other programs. Last year, more than 200 students attended one of the education classes including online.
Magaly Solís, the executive director and the first Latina to head the agency in its history, proudly points out that, since its founding, more than 1,400 people have become citizens after participating in the civic education activities offered by La Casa Hogar. Solis and the organization are accredited by the Department of Justice to practice naturalization law.
La Casa Hogar continued to serve the local Latino community throughout the pandemic including hosting vaccination clinics and providing masks and other supplies.
Besides volunteering, the Sisters continue supporting La Casa Hogar financially through the Emilie Gamelin Mission Fund. For more information, and to find out how you can help, visit their website, www.lacasahogar.org.