SLVH Adopt-A-Family Holiday Tradition Benefits Local Families

Y and EYvette Orin and Eva Quintana show off some of the gifts that have been donated.

cch staff 2020

Conejos County Hospital Staff gathers for a photo after wrapping gifts for the family they adopted in 2020.

An Adelante family member who successfully made it through the two-year program said, “I didn’t think I had a future or could dream about my future. We were just looked at as workers and didn’t have any support to enroll in school. Raising children is hard, and so many things get in the way of pursuing your dreams. When I received an eviction notice, I became desperate, especially while managing doctor visits for my daughter who needed brain surgery.” Adelante is a La Puente Program that provides family resources to empower and stabilize families. “With assistance from Adelante’s 'working together' program, I will be graduating soon from Trinidad State. This support system is exactly what I needed to be successful and stable.”

Adelante services include assistance with housing, case management, referrals, improved access to counseling, and family advocacy. For the past several years, employees at San Luis Valley Health have been “adopting” the families enrolled in the Adelante program to provide gifts for the holiday season. One of the employees mentioned how much this meant to her own grandson. “We adopted a single mom with a baby girl and my grandson filled the shopping cart with so many things she would ‘need.’ He kept picking out one more outfit, one more toy. His enthusiasm to shop for someone with fewer means brought out the holiday spirit in all of us.”

Nicole and Mary

Nicole and Mary pick up gifts donated in 2019 from SLV Health Employees

The Kids Place is a special place for children whose lives have been disrupted. It is a safe place to experience healing. Operated by someone whose life and career have revolved around children, Kids Place offers a stable environment under the direction of counselor Mary Hennessey. “The big primary focus is on children who have had major disruptions in their lives,” Hennessey explained. “The majority are living with grandparents either through kinship placement, or they have adopted them.”

Although working with such children for some time, Hennessey was still struck with the large number of children falling into that category in the San Luis Valley and the number of older adults — some of them in their 70’s and 80’s — raising grandchildren or even great-grandchildren. Sometimes the only support they have for these children is their social security checks. Although it is often difficult, the grandparents are committed to these children who are now in their lives.

SLV Health employees added the families from the Kids Place program to their annual holiday “Adopt-A-Family program” to provide cheer, support, gifts, clothes, toys, and basic items from their wish list. One of the employees remarked, “I was surprised when I received their list. They asked for basic hygiene items like shampoo and razors.” The families are indeed humbled by the generosity of the SLVH employees.

The program is coordinated by SLVH Clinic Administrator Antonio Gurule and his assistant Ressa Gonzales. Ressa remarked, “I am overwhelmed by the generosity of our employees who always go above and beyond the basic wishes of the families. We recently added some of our own quietly-identified SLVH employee families to be “adopted” by this program, and it’s awesome to see how we care for one another in this community.”

Along with SLVH interviews, credit for some of this content is from a 2017 Ruth Heide Valley Courier article and the La Puente website.