From homeless to college grad, mother thanks YWCA "Mi Casa" program

EL PASO, TEXAS - Gisela Garcia has overcome several obstacles in her life, but being homeless was something she says she wouldn't have been able to overcome without the help of the YWCA's "Mi Casa" program.      

For years, Garcia's biggest commitment has been caring for her five children. Coming from Mexico, she says it was not an simple feat because she had to leave behind her dream of getting a degree.  

"I like to learn, but it wasn't easy in my country, so I had to do it at this age in the U.S.," says Garcia.

Due to a language barrier Garcia decided to study in a language that was universal, numbers. "I had the dream of getting my Bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering from UTEP," says Garcia. 

Garcia says raising five kids and learning English while pursing her degree were struggles she was faced with, but nothing compared to when she became homeless. " I was unable to pay my rent and to pay for childcare services and all the expenses," says Garcia who not only provided for her five children, but her grandchild as well.

"It was tough, it was tough," says Garcia. " I found myself very trapped in a situation that I really wanted to finish, but i couldn't."

That's when Garcia says she found out about the YWCA's "Mi Casa" program, which provided her kids with a sense of 'home'

"They basically fulfilled all my commitments as a mother and they provided me with childcare services," says Garcia.

The YWCA program provides child-care services at all 13 locations for families in situations just like Garcia's

Garcia says the program not only saved her and her children, but her education as well. "I was helpless, I was homeless, but God put these people in front of me to provide me with the right support, so I finished."

The YWCA Women's Luncheon will be held on Thursday, April 27 at the El Paso Convention Center. The event starts at 11:30 and individual tickets are $100, which benefit the YWCA.  The keynote speaker for this year's luncheon is Erin Gruwell.

Gruwell's life is the subject of 2007's Freedom Writers, starring Hilary Swank. Guwell has been a steadfast educator who inspired her students to create an innovative writing program to improve their reading and writing skills along with their lives. She is a constant fighter for equality in education.


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