Teresa Valenzuela: Bruin Angel

Teresa Valenzuela: Bruin Angel

Valenzuela and family members raise money and collect items such as toys and backpacks for girls in a home in Sonora, Mexico.

Read about other Bruin Angels in UCLA Today.

By Wendy Soderburg

FOR 40 young girls in Sonora, Mexico, Casa Hogar de Niñas is more than just a communal place to live — it’s a home. A refuge for girls ages 4-16 whose families can no longer take care of them, Casa Hogar provides schooling and stability for those with troubled family lives.

“Some of the girls may have parents who are on drugs or who may have other issues. And some of them may have abusive parents they need to get away from,” said Teresa Valenzuela, student services coordinator for the School of Nursing’s undergraduate program. “Casa Hogar is a place of solace for them.”

Valenzuela’s family has been involved with Casa Hogar since 1994, when Erasmo Hernandez, Valenzuela’s grandfather, first started raising funds for the facility. Today, several members of Valenzuela’s family — led by her uncle, Javier Hernandez — help raise money and also collect items such as toys and backpacks for the girls.

Each family member has a role, and for her part, Valenzuela works with fellow members of the UCLA Latino Staff and Faculty Association to collect toys at the group’s annual posada and toy drive. After the event, Valenzuela takes the toys to her uncle’s house for delivery to Casa Hogar.

“Sometimes I don’t even think about all the things I’m doing, and then I remember, this is why we’re doing it. We’re doing it for the girls who need it,” Valenzuela said. “And why not? They get the guidance, they get the education. It’s all done in the Catholic faith, but I think if anything, it’s done in the faith of being good people and helping others.”

Published: Wednesday, December 17, 2008