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Opportunity Center for the Homeless named 2017 Charity of Choice

The Public Service Board selected the Opportunity Center for the Homeless (OC) as the El Paso Water 2017 Charity of Choice. The OC provides shelter and meals for the homeless. Its newest facility La Casa de Las Abuelitas serves single elderly women in need.

The Charity of Choice selection committee, which is composed of EPWater employees, recommended the OC as the Charity of Choice after visiting the facility. The committee presented the recommendation to the Public Service Board at its Feb. 8 meeting.

"During our site visit, we found that they do a great deal for the community and had a large need for funding assistance," explained this year's chairwoman Yesenia Castro. "We hope to bring awareness to the community about the homeless problem in El Paso, especially the elderly. I hope we can motivate our community to get involved, whether that be through volunteering or donations and spreading the word."

More than $200,000
Each year, beginning in 2009, EPWater forms a strategic alliance with a local, non-profit, community organization. Employees have supported several charities during the past eight years by raising more than $200,000 in their off hours and on weekends.

In 2016, EPWater raised $39,000 for the Salvation Army of El Paso County. This year, employees have a new goal: $40,000. Mayor and Public Service Board member Oscar Leeser pledged approximately $2,500 to kick off the fundraising.

La Casa de Las Abuelitas has 16 housing units and is the OC's newest living center. This shelter is in great need of funding and will benefit from the proceeds of the Charity of Choice program.

Safety and Protection
"It costs us roughly $285 a night to run the facility," said John Martin, part of the organization's strategic planning and fund development team. "That's everything from keeping the lights on to having staff. There's food, toiletries, medical care, etc. Nothing is more important than another. It's about the safety and protection of these women.

"We would be remiss in not expressing our extreme gratitude to employees and the Public Service Board for selecting us as Charity of Choice," he added. "We're amazed at this point."