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Nuestra Casa celebrates 10-year anniversary

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Barb and Dick Golob of Sunnyside beam at a Gracias award presented to them for their generosity and commitment to Nuestra Casa.

Nuestra Casa was the vision of one individual intent on providing educational services to immigrant women in the Lower Yakima Valley.

It has grown and thrived, according to Sister Mary Rita Rohde, because of those who supported that vision.

This past Saturday a celebration was held, recognizing the organization's success during the past 10 years.

Rohde said she couldn't have helped so many if it wasn't for the support of the Sisters of the Holy Name, who provided Nuestra Casa with seed funds.

She said the Sisters of the Holy Name, of which she is a member, provided full funding when Nuestra Casa was first established in 2003. Additional funding was received the following year, with the idea that Nuestra Casa would operate solely on donations in a short period of time.

The Sisters of the Holy Name, said Rohde, has supported her vision since, providing funding for her salary.

Nuestra Casa began its mission to provide educational opportunities to the immigrant community via English as a Second Language classes.

Rohde said several churches offered their buildings for the classes, showing a generous spirit and support from the community.

After about a year, the classes were held at St. Joseph's School, giving those taking the classes a central location for services provided by the organization.

St. Joseph's Parish was led by Father Patnode, who provided the organization with an office from which to operate. He allowed Nuestra Casa to use the small house next door to the gymnasium at the school.

The second program to be offered by the newly formed organization was driver's education, which was taught by local law enforcement officers.

Rohde said the programs gradually expanded to further meet the needs of the community, including citizenship classes taught by Julio Romero.

"The staff continues to do its best to meet the needs in the community," said Rohde.

"We see if we can help...the staff wants to provide members of the community with a sense of hope," said Rohde, stating the organization doesn't solely focus on the immigrant community.

She said everyone is welcome at Nuestra Casa and the staff will do its best to connect people with resources in the community.

Speaking about how the organization has helped them were Lucy Sanchez and Maria Villagrana.

Both women took advantage of the classes provided by Nuestra Casa, and Sanchez has since realized her dream of becoming a hairdresser and business owner. She and her husband also took citizenship classes and have become citizens of the United States.

"Now I am in ESL classes," said Sanchez.

Villagrana, too, has taken ESL classes. She has also taken on a leadership role, joining the Nuestra Casa board and teaching fellow participants to read and write.

Rohde lauded Villagrana for also teaching Zumba classes.

"I am convinced that what I do is good for me, my family and my community," said Villagrana.

Rohde also presented three "Gracias Awards" during the celebration, one of which went to the Sisters of the Holy Name for its support of the organization.

Also presented awards for contributing to the success of the organization were members of the Adrian Dominican Sisters, which has provided grant funding to Nuestra Casa, and Barb and Dick Golob for their commitment to the organization, as well as financial contributions.

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