EPWater employees, sponsors raise $55,000 for Opportunity Center for Homeless
For Yesenia Castro, it was the bittersweet culmination of a months-long labor of love when the 2017 El Paso Water Charity of Choice chairwoman presented a check for $55,000 to the Opportunity Center for the Homeless on Wednesday, Sept. 13, at the Public Service Board meeting.
The money from the EPWater employee fundraising campaign will benefit the center's La Casa de las Abuelitas, which houses single women ages 55 and older at 1318 Myrtle Ave. The campaign bested the original utility goal of $40,000 and the previous years' efforts.
"I just want to say thank you," said Ray Tullius, co-founder of the Opportunity Center for the Homeless, during the check presentation. "It's amazing to see the spirit of the organization; you don't see that in a corporation. We saw passion all through these events, and I just thank you so much for the spirit that you focused on our operation."
Since 2009, EPWater employees have raised more than $275,000 for local charities. Past partners have included the Salvation Army of El Paso, USO and the Children's Grief Center of El Paso.
The process began in January when the Charity of Choice committee of employees met to select a local nonprofit organization as the beneficiary. Once their choice was approved by the PSB, the fundraising campaign kicked off in February with a flurry of events organized by employees, which included a fishing derby, a karaoke standoff and a sand volleyball tournament. Events wrapped up in late August with a golf tournament, sponsored by Touchstone Golf, that raised a portion of funds.
"I loved the experience," said Castro wistfully, about seeing the campaign end. "It's been very rewarding and really fun seeing people get involved."
Some of the events even featured a few of the abuelitas, or grandmothers, from the shelter.
Now that the Charity of Choice campaign is over, Castro is hopeful that EPWater employees will recall the mission accomplished for La Casa de las Abuelitas.
"I hope people will not forget about the Opportunity Center for the Homeless," Castro said. "Whether they can volunteer or donate, just spreading the word is extremely helpful."
Horacio Martinez, Stormwater General Services Lead Worker, said it was his third year being involved with Charity of Choice and that it was a pleasure being a part of the committee this year.
"Sometimes we complain about our situations, but now we really know there are people that need even the basic things in their lives," he said.
For more information on the Opportunity Center for the Homeless, please click here.