Violence victims help center at risk of closing
HOUSTON The center sees about 100 clients per week, but because of the recent economy, they're simply losing money. After 15 years of helping women through their darkest hours, La Rosa Family Services may be facing its toughest time. "We're counting pennies now as it is," said Theresa Gutierrez, the executive director of the organization. Like many small non-profits, the tough economy and Hurricane Ike have been making paying bills hard for them. It's so bad that the center has cut its services to only three days a week and staff to just one full time employee. "If La Rosa doesn't survive and doesn't offer the services, tell me where they're going to go?" Gutierrez said. The tragic part, Gutierrez says, is that the center primarily serves the Hispanic community, which she feels is sometimes underserved by other programs. "Our culture is based on trust," she said. "And so they need to be able to trust someone that they're going to come and tell them about this happening subject." Rachel Cruz turned to La Rosa after enduring an abusive relationship five years ago. "I have lived a violent domestic life with strong punches," she said through a translator. "They have saved my life. They have definitely saved my life." That's why the center pushes on. Volunteers have held yard sales just to survive. Gutierrez is vowing to stay open as long as her clients want her. "I don't want to stop helping these women," she said. Gutierrez is trying to get some grants and they are receiving some donations, but it's still not enough.