Written by: Mike Cook
Las Cruces Bulletin

La Casa, lnc.-Vista College partnership means educational opportunities for victims of domestic violence.

Education is part of La Casa, lnc.’s mission to provide comprehensive services to victims of domestic violence, and that’s why Executive Director Henry Brutus was so excited and “very, very humbled” when he got a call late last year from Tessa Vargas, master admissions representative at Vista College of Las Cruces.
On behalf of Vista, Vargas presented La Casa, Inc. with a $1,500 donation and five $1,000 scholarships to the college, which offers training programs in healthcare, business, technology and trade.
“This is a big deal,” Brutus said, because one of La Casa, lnc.’s goals is to “rehabilitate the entire person so when they leave (the shelter) they’re sustainable,” Brutus said.
Nearly half of La Casa, lnc.’s clients are homemakers who have little or no training or job experience outside the home, Brutus said. The partnership with Vista, he said, is part of La Casa, lnc.’s education and job training initiative that already includes teaching clients basic skills — many don’t speak English – and financial literacy.
Vargas’ call came just as Brutus was preparing to reach out to local educational institutions, including NMSU and Dona Ana Community College, he said. “Vista beat us to the punch.”
La Casa, Inc. clients “deserve an opportunity to see themselves in a different way,” said Vargas. The Vista scholarships, which will continue in 2019, she said, “offer the women “an opportunity to do something for themselves.”
“There are women out there just like me,” said Vargas, a single mother who graduated from Vista in 2010. “I’ve dealt with it,” she said. “I’ve done it.”
If those receiving the scholarships qualify for the New Mexico Human Services Department’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, Vargas said, they may receive full funding for the training they receive at Vista.

Vista training programs range from 11-16 months in length, she said. The college awards certifications for cosmetology graduates; diplomas for those graduating as dental and medical assistants, practical nurses and HVAC technicians and in medical billing and coding and information technology; and associate in science degrees in business administration.

Vista Financial Aid Director Karen Gonzales said Vista will have 289 students in January at its Las Cruces campus on Telshor Boulevard.
“We are such a tight family,” said Gonzales, who has worked for Vista for almost a decade and has 32 years of experience in financial aid. “We all work so well together. We’re just so open hearted, no matter what it takes. We’re the Vista family.”

La Casa, Inc. was founded in 1981 and serves about 805 unduplicated (not counting those who come back to the shelter within the same year) clients each year. About one-half of its clients are children. The Las Cruces shelter, which operates 24/7, can house up to 82 people at a time and stays at or near capacity most of the time. La Casa, Inc. also offers services in Anthony, New Mexico. Many times, clients arrive at the shelter with no money and only the clothes on their backs, and most come with children. Staff help them with issues like child custody, divorce, immigration status, counseling, child care and much more.

For more information, contact Brutus at 575-526-2819 or hbrutus@lacasainc.org. Visit
www.lacasainc.org. Contact Vargas at 575-556-1080, ext. 1415, and tvargas@vistacollege.edu.
Mike Cook may be contacted at mike@Jascrucesbulletin.com.

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