Located in the picturesque neighborhood of Old Towne Orange, Casa Teresa operates several homes that provide temporary housing for pregnant women who are alone and in need of help. Many of these women have just given birth and are at Casa Teresa with their newborn babies. Some stay up to two years in the Casa Teresa program with these babies as they grow in order to get back on their feet and become independent. There’s even a reunification program that gives the mothers an opportunity to be reunited with their older children who may be with other family members or have been placed in the foster system.
Six separate housing buildings make up Casa Teresa and all are discreet and blend anonymously into the neighborhood. I meet their Donations Manager in their largest house – it was built in the early 1900s and used to be a traveling salesman’s apartment complex. Each room has its own kitchenette and bathroom; there are two residents to a room. Residents must share the house chores and attend classes Monday through Thursday. If the program is precisely followed, a resident can stay here for up to two years if necessary. I take a tour of the building and I get a chance to coo at several newborn babies, one of whom is only 3 weeks old. As we walk by the computer lab on the second floor, I’m introduced to a former resident who is now a college graduate and a Casa Teresa intern. She is researching graduate programs and is planning on pursuing a Master’s degree in Social Work. She’s a true Casa Teresa success story, and the staff is really proud of her.
Seven blocks and a short golf cart ride away is Casa Teresa’s emergency shelter home. It is here where homeless pregnant women can stay for 90 days in order to get a plan together. Many of them have just gotten out of jail or a hospital, have nowhere to go and walk in with nothing. This particular home is staffed 24 hours a day with a Casa Teresa staff member. The residents make the meals that they then share together. The entire house is welcoming and organized and I get a chance to meet and talk with many of the women. One shares with me how happy she is to be staying at the shelter and tells me that she “hasn’t had this safe of a home since I was 10 years old.”
Casa Teresa has recently been receiving many food donations from several Anaheim restaurants and venues. As part of the Waste Not OC initiative (a city-wide Anaheim food recovery pilot), these food donors have committed to join the food rescue efforts in Orange County and the staff and residents at Casa Teresa are extremely grateful to be on the receiving end.
More about our partnership with Casa Teresa in the OC Register–
On to the next agency…