Since February, volunteer Eddie Raines has spent his days folding and sorting clothes at the Welfare To Work (WTW) program in Los Lunas.
A senior citizen himself, Raines says he likes to help others in need.
“I enjoy working here,” Raines said. “I like to see the look on people’s faces when I take their boxes out to the car.”
In a short period of time, the non-profit organization has helped 215 men, women and children find free clothing and furniture.
The program’s headquarters, located in cottage seven at the former Los Lunas Hospital and Training School Campus, is never low on boxes. Donations are often dropped off between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.
“We’re here to make a difference in people’s lives,” says Linda Gonzales of the WTW program. “We want them to know they’re not alone.”
Members of the mentor program are proud to announce that Welfare To Work is now open to anyone in Valencia County who needs help.
The non-profit organization is sponsored by SER de New Mexico, which is based in Albuquerque and works primarily with disadvantaged families with different educational and social programs. Their focus is service, employment and redevelopment.
“We’ll lead them, but they have to do the footwork,” Gonzales said. “We’re here to help them, so the community can really boom.”
The program helps state welfare recipients by finding resources for such things as childcare, education, housing, transportation, energy assistance, substance abuse and domestic violence. They also help clients with financial budgeting, job searches, resumes, job interview techniques, clothing and job retention.
According to Gonzales, the “Dress for Success” room for men and women has been one of the program’s biggest successes by helping clients with clothing for interviews, work and for family members.
“We are there for our clients when they just need a friend to listen to them about their problems,” Gonzales says. “We refer them to the proper agency to help them get through whatever the problem may be.”
“We really want to introduce the program to the community,” says Jennifer Padilla of the Los Lunas center. “Come in and look around. We hope that we will be able to work together to help the people of Valencia County as best as we can.”
Various volunteers in the community have lent a helping hand to make the WTW mentors program a success. In the very near future, the organization hopes to start an educational program with computers donated by the corrections department.
Clothing racks located in both Dress for Success rooms were donated from Adelente Development Inc. in Belen, along with the Shelter for Domestic Violence and Youth Development Inc. in Los Lunas.
At the end of July, Gonzales is headed for Chicago, where she will represent the State of New Mexico at a special conference on the Welfare To Work mentor program held at Northwestern College.
“People everywhere want to know what we’re doing in Valencia County,” she said. “Our program is well known now. This is the place people come if they’re in need.”
For more information about the program or the center, contact Jennifer Padilla or Linda Gonzales at 565-8024.