Mesilla Valley Community of Hope Tents 2 Rents september 15-october 31

In 1993 an alliance of faith organizations, community leaders and homeless service providers came together to incorporate the Mesilla Valley Community of Hope (MVCH) campus. This campus, also called "The Community of Hope," includes four 501 C 3 non-profit organizations, El Caldito Soup Kitchen, Jardin de los Ninos, St. Luke's Health Care Clinic, and Casa de Peregrinos, plus the MVCH operated, Camp Hope. Each of these agencies is independently managed, responsible for their own staffing and funding, has their own board of directors, and specific mission statement. All five agencies have long histories of serving the poor, near homeless and homeless, while MVCH acts as the 'point organization' for the whole campus. The purpose of MVCH is to serve as a day shelter to address homelessness and poverty throughout Las Cruces and Dona Ana County.

The Mesilla Valley Community of Hope's mission is to provide services in a compassionate manner and professional atmosphere that promote and facilitate transitioning out of homelessness and into stable housing.

Camp Hope, or "Tent City", is located right behind the offices of MVCH. One of the biggest challenges Camp Hope faces is that it does not qualify for any state, federal, or foundation funding, only community donations. The Tents 2 Rents (T2R) fundraiser was created last year with the goal to move people who are homeless and living in tents at Camp Hope into their own apartment or house.

It costs about $6,000 a year to move a person from living in a tent at Camp Hope to living in a home or apartment. Last year the T2R fundraiser raised almost $13,000 and the MVCH team hopes to surpass that value this year!

There are three ways to be involved with the T2R fundraising campaign. As a participant you will commit to raising at least $1,000 through donations from family, friends, co-workers, faith organizations, etc., while as a sponsor you agree to a certain donation level and in exchange receive sponsor benefits. Both of these opportunities had an application deadline of August 25th, but you can still impact this fundraising campaign as a donor.

Anyone wanting to help can make a donation from September 15-October 31 by visiting the T2R Webpage. As a donor you have two options to make a gift. You can either make a direct contribution to a participant's goal by clicking their name, reading their biography, and adding to their individual fund goal. If you would rather donate without sponsoring a participant's goal simply click the "MVCH" underlined section and proceed with your donation. To find out other ways to get involved or learn more about the T2R kickoff event please contact Nancy Barnes-Smith, a MVCH Development Committee Representative, through her email at, or at 575-993-4085 or 575-522-4022.

Nancy was extremely insightful about sharing information about the Community of Hope and T2R event. She also provided two success stories from previous Camp Hope residents, Charlie and Debbie. Charlie and Debbie spent time at Camp Hope working with a case worker to access services they needed and to get benefits they were entitled to in place. After gaining this assistance they both have secured work, moved out of their tents, and budget 1/3 of their monthly income to go towards their rent in their new homes.

"One of my favorite client stories is about Charlie. Charlie is 51 and was born and raised in Long Island, New York as an only child to caring parents. When he was in his early 30's, both of his parents died and he started to drift. And drink. He crisscrossed the country from California to Florida and eventually came with a friend to Las Cruces but ended up couch surfing for a while after his friend died. Then he lost his job. He was on the streets and desperate by the time he came to the Community of Hope and found shelter at Camp Hope. " - Nancy Barnes-Smith, MVCH Development Committee Representative

Charlie says that the MVCH staff are willing to go the extra mile to get things done, like personally taking his Social Security Information application to be filed, or driving him to the Motor Vehicle Division to apply for a driver's license. When reflecting on the work of the MVCH team Charlie stated...

"They have the right people and those people have the heart."

He says that if it hadn't been for Community of Hope, he would still be homeless...

"To me, this is amazing. I have a place, a scooter, a part time job and a dog - it is great."

Charlie moved from living in a tent at Camp Hope for about eight months into his own apartment almost three years ago. Charlie is now giving back and serves a the client representative on the MVCH Board of Directors along with ten other community members.

Former home of previous Camp Hope resident, Debbie.

Nancy met Debbie the day she was moving from Camp Hope into Sue’s House, a home of disabled, homeless women. Nancy was really touched by Debbie’s openness and willingness to share some real ugly times she experienced in her life. Debbie's story was the focus of the MVCH Spring newsletter and said...

“Tell my story if it will help and say thank you for me.”

Debbie is a 54 year old woman who has been homeless "off and on" for half of her life. She shares how for years she was in an abusive relationship and turned to drugs...

“To deal with how bad I felt, how low I was. Drugs made me feel like I could cope, but drugs became my biggest problem. I was an addict. I ended up in prison. It was awful but it saved my life. I did my time and went to a half-way house. When I was released, I had nowhere to go. I couldn’t go back to my home town because I knew I would be pulled right back into trouble."

Debbie is willing to share her story because...

“It is the story of almost all the homeless women I know. We don’t blame domestic violence for drug addiction or being homeless, but for most of us, it was how things started. I never thought it would happen...that I would go for so many years without seeing my brothers or family. It has been so hard. I am trying to rebuild ties now with my family. I found some courage here at Camp Hope because people care.”

After six months at Camp Hope Debbie stated...

"Thank God, I found Camp Hope. I found my life!... There are people here I really care about, friends. And the staff cares about all of us.”

When thinking about her future once given the opportunity to rent a home Debbie said...

“I am so excited. I haven’t lived in a home for so many years. I am excited but I am scared – it is new and different. I will be fine, I have made progress. Little steps but all in the right direction and I have lots of support.”

Debbie is doing very well and has been living happily at Sue’s House for a little over six months now. She has a part time job where she is liked and respected by her boss and co-workers.

Pictures of Camp Hope at the MVCH.

The Mesilla Valley Community of Hope's vision is to promote dignity and empower those most in need in our community.

If you would like to volunteer with any of the five agencies located within the MVCH campus please head to the Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico's (CFSNM) Non-Profit Webpage and visit each organization's website. CFSNM is proud to be partnered with all of these local organizations and promote their work being done in the community. To make a difference with the MVCH team directly check out their Facebook Page or Website for more information.

CFSNM appreciates the dedicated team and programs offered at MVCH and hopes you can make a difference in their T2R event through a gift or by sharing their event information. Let us continue to serve, connect, and support together!

Created by Alexia Goodwin

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.