Casa Nueva Vida
Nature and Purpose
Casa Nueva Vida ("House of New Life") is the only homeless shelter in Massachussetts that serves some of the most vulnerable members of society - homeless families with children. The shelter is in Jamaica Plain and can accommodate 16 families. There are usually 20-25 children staying at the shelter, ranging from 0-15 years old. Each family lives at Casa Nueva Vida for an average of one year. The other facility, located in Lawrence, MA, accommodates 12 families and around 17-20 children.
Casa Nueva Vida opened in 1987 and since June of 1990, Casa Nueva Vida has had a 100% success rate in placing families in safe, permanent housing, and in preventing them from becoming homeless again. In order to ensure these success rates, Casa Nueva Vida offers each family the following intense educational programming to help prepare them for independence: 1. Food/Basic Shelter Utility Services 2. Computer/ Job Training Program
3. English as a Second Language (ESL) Program 4. Personal Empowerment Program 5. Children/Teens' Educational Program 6. Housing Advocacy/Counseling.
Our mission is "to help our homeless residents gain the education and skills that they need to permanently pull themselves out of poverty, as well as to reach out to the community with a number of educational and supportive services that help to prevent homelessness and break the chain of poverty in our communities."
"When I came to this country, my life was very difficult. I didn't have a job, I didn't have a house, and I didn't know anyone. The change was so hard. Everything was so different here than what I imagined before I arrived. I had no support system."
- Former resident of Casa Nueva Vida
PULSE students will be involved in two of the programs offered at Casa Nueva Vida, the ESL Program and the Children/Teen Educational Program. Students will have the choice to participate in one or both the ESL and Children's Program.
The mothers are usually enrolled in ESL classes outside of the shelter as well as the nightly classes at Casa Nueva Vida. Most have had little or no experience with the English language before taking these classes, and so are overwhelmed with all they have to learn. PULSE students will be paired up to work one-on-one with the mothers to tutor them in English. Students also may volunteer in the ESL classroom. Knowledge of Spanish is not necessary. The women at Casa Nueva Vida are all eager to learn and are fun and excited students.
The children at Casa Nueva Vida have all faced an assortment of obstacles in their young lives, from domestic violence to immigration, to losing family members and coping with homelessness. The children crave attention, which their mothers are not always able to give them, due to the amounts of stress they are under daily. The PULSE volunteers will be able to provide some consistency and support for these children. Specifically, every day at Casa Nueva Vida, there is a Homework Hour, which the children attend to receive tutoring. PULSE students will be paired up with children to help them achieve academic success. This includes help with their homework, but also with their English skills and basic mentorship.
Students will volunteer twice a week, Monday through Friday, from 4-8 pm. From 4-6 pm, Homework Hour for the children and ESL tutoring take place, while from 6-8 pm, the younger children play, the older children are involved in specific programming and the mothers are in ESL Class. PULSE Students will choose where they prefer to volunteer.
PULSE students will meet bi-weekly with the Children's Education Coordinator. Daily support is also available.
Doris Gaitan, Care Manager
53 Glen Road
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130