by Victor Lopez
MIDLAND-- When you translate the name it means House of Friends, but for the staff at Casa de Amigos, it's more like helping a member of the family.
"Hopefully, in another 100 years from now, they'll be having another celebration. The programs just keep growing," Board President, Mark Nicholas, said.
They've come a long way since 1964, but their mission has stayed the same.
According to Executive Director Lael Cordes-Pitts, "The major change was the physical, increasing our space from 6,000 to 20,000. We've always, consistently served from 8,000 to 10,000 people, which, when I came, 24 years ago, was about 1,500 people."
The rent for the original building at 906 North Dallas was only $50 a month. Church members raised money to help pay that. Funding now comes from other places. "It's a combination of United Way funding. They've been very generous to us since 1973. And it's just through individuals, business, and very generous, broad community support, that we maintain the balance in the funding," Cordes-Pitts said.
One of the nice things about Casa de Amigos, people who have helped out or have benefitted from them in the past, have returned to give a little back, including the current Board President, "My parents were involved in Casa de Amigos in the early years as volunteers doing teaching and things like that," Nicholas said.
Their success reaches far and wide. You might say, all across the country.
"Each year, the VITA program helps people, low income, helps them fill out their income taxes. It originated here and it was such a great idea that the IRS adopted that and spread it across the country," Nicholas proudly said.
The founders of Casa de Amigos had a dream. According to Nicholas, they plan to expand that dream even further, "It's not necessarily about putting food on their table for tonight, but it's a matter of helping them get to the place where they can provide for their families and have a secure future."