Empowerment Congress works with lots of great organizations throughout Dona Ana County. One of those great organizations is La Casa Inc. La Casa is a lifeline to those in our community that has dealt with domestic violence in some form. La Casa is doing the hard work in Dona Ana County, and they genuinely make a difference in our communities. 

“La Casa Inc. was founded in 1981 as a safe haven for women impacted by domestic violence.” This year La Casa Inc. is celebrating its 40th anniversary of being operational. Now, La Casa is the largest provider of domestic violence services in New Mexico. This is a big deal because, according to a report by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence in New Mexico, 1 in 3 New Mexico women has experienced domestic violence. The struggle of domestic violence is an important topic to discuss, but it is rarely ever talked about or is brought into the spotlight. The team at La Casa wants to change this issue, raise awareness of domestic violence, break stereotypes and stigmas, and support healing to Dona Ana County.

La Casa Inc. offers various programs and services that encompass all areas of a person’s life who may be the victim of domestic violence. These services include emergency shelter, civil legal services, healthcare, immigration services, counseling, restraining orders, custody issues, divorce services, child support, and alcohol and substance use, just to name a few. Although La Casa Inc.’s central service location is in Las Cruces, the organization also operates an office in Anthony, NM.  The La Casa Inc. South Valley office has been operational for 20 years.  This office provides the same services and programs to the southern part of the county, except for emergency shelter services. However, their staff and advocates can assist residents from Sunland Park, Del Cerro, Vado, Anthony, and the surrounding areas to complete a needs assessment to gain access to the emergency shelter located in Las Cruces and provide transportation to the emergency shelter. 

Juliana Hernandez, the Operations Manager at the South Valley office, is very passionate about what she does. Having come from a small colonia herself, she has the unique perspective to understand and listen to what these small communities need. Hernandez explains that La Casa is all about educating and advocating for domestic violence survivors and offenders. These services are for all women, men, and children, residential and non-residential. Hernandez explains that these services are for everyone because it’s important to address everyone in all the different stages of the cycle of violence while providing education and support for their healing. Hernandez also states that La Casa is also about empowering others. La Casa supports others by aiding with applications for SNAP food benefits, finances, TANF (temporary assistance for needy families), child services, and training. The South Valley office also supports survivors with donated items such as clothing, personal hygiene products, food items, and housewares to assist them as they transition to independence. These support tools can uplift someone in a challenging situation, and with their basic needs met, they can focus on self-care and healing. 

Along with serving survivors, La Casa Inc. understands the importance of addressing offenders and their behaviors. They host a Batterer’s Intervention Prevention Program that is offered to both men and women. It is 52 weeks, and participants can either be self-referred or mandated by the court. The “program provides participants with information and practical tools to enhance values, beliefs, and behaviors which support a healthy relationship.” Participants are taught to understand what domestic violence entails, tactics to prevent it, the impact this violence has on children, and what elements make up a healthy relationship.

There is also a Children and Youth Program. These services are available to children ages 0-17. Through educational playgroups and individual sessions, La Casa can safely teach about self-care and self-respect. They also teach children about healthy relationships and how to find healthy and safe ways to prevent aggression and avoid abusive relationships. La Casa will even work with parents and guardians. They teach them healthy parenting skills and how to communicate with their child.

Empowerment Congress was able to work with the South Valley office in February by hosting a youth-voiced large-scale mural on the back wall of their building. Empowerment Congress’ youth searched the local community for a space to host the mural designed and developed by the youth in the DescolonizARTE youth program. The contracted artist collaborating on the project reached out to La Casa and was able to get in touch with Juliana Hernadez. Hernadez said she thought it was a fantastic idea to bring more art into the community. The South Valley office is located at 325 First Street Anthony, New Mexico, and there isn’t much community art there, so Hernadez thought it would be a great focal point for the community. The South Valley office also had trouble with graffiti on the building walls, so the mural would end that problem. 

Getting the mural painted and revealing events proved to be a little challenging due to issues during COVID times. Empowerment Congress had to ensure it was all getting done safely so not all of the DescolonizARTE youth could assist with painting the mural.  Although the Empowerment Congress team and La Casa team wanted a giant mural reveal celebration, we had to settle for a virtual reveal. With all the obstacles, both teams still provided the community with something unique and beautiful. Empowerment Congress is so grateful to La Casa Inc. for supporting our youth program and bringing some color to the community of Anthony. 

The work being done at La Casa is inspirational and very important. If you would like to learn about La Casa Inc. or its services and programs, visit their website at https://www.lacasainc.org/ or call the Anthony office directly at 575-882-3008.

If you or someone you know is suffering from domestic violence, know you are not alone, and you don’t have to be afraid. Amazing people at La Casa Inc are here to support and assist you. 24-hour service hotline: 575-526-9513 or 1-800-376-2272