Santa Maria Urban Ministry is currently situated at a very exciting and pivotal moment in its history. Our former Executive Director, The Rev. Lawrence Robles, resigned in December 2011 to accept a call as rector of St. George’s Episcopal Church in Salinas. After much deliberation, the Board of Directors decided to accept the challenge to fund TWO full time employees for the Ministry so that, with full time administrative support, the Executive Director would have the time to focus on strengthening the profile of the Ministry in the community, work more collaboratively with other local agencies, and continue to broaden and strengthen the programs that are being offered at the Ministry. The Board agreed that a full time Operations Manager would provide much better support for our current programs which are almost entirely run by our committed volunteers.
||The Board is pleased to announce that Mr. Omar Torres has been named as the next Executive Director. Omar grew up in the Washington area of San Jose where SMUM is located and has been active in serving the neighborhood from a very early age. As he wrote in his application, he has been working to improve the quality of life in a “community affected by drugs, prostitution, gangs, blight and other negative and unhealthy aspects that plague our inner city communities.” For the past ten years, Omar has worked for the City of San Jose with the “Strong Neighborhoods Initiative,” mostly in the East San Jose Weed and Seed program. At the same time, he maintained his connections with the Washington neighborhood as a member of the Neighborhood Association, and with Washington Elementary School as an instruction associate with the after school programs and other special programs. Omar is passionate about our neighborhood and is looking forward to using his networking contacts and community organizing skills to strengthen and expand the programs offered at SMUM.
||Mr. Alfonso Mendez has been named Operations Manager, a full time job which will involve managing all of the programs at SMUM, including training and supervising our many dedicated volunteers. Alfonso came to the Ministry in 2001 as a volunteer, first working in the warehouse and then becoming a Front Desk volunteer. In November 2010, when the Rev. Lawrence Robles was asked to become the part time Priest-in-Charge for the Guadalupe congregation at Trinity Cathedral, the Board realized that there was need for a part time Office Administrator to assume some of the administrative duties that Rev. Robles would no longer have time to do. Alfonso was hired for this job in recognition of the leadership and administrative skills he had exhibited as a volunteer for so many years. He leaves a full time job at Toyota and is doing so because he says his “heart is with the people at SMUM.” The Board is very grateful to Alfonso who did a magnificent job maintaining the operations of SMUM during our period of transition, guiding and directing our many invaluable volunteers during this almost four-month period of transition between Executive Directors.
The Board is very excited about the opportunities for Santa Maria Urban Ministry, now that it will be staffed by two full-time employees for the first time. The Executive Director will be responsible for fundraising and strengthening the profile of SMUM, working with our local churches, other local social service agencies and the City of San Jose. Our Operations Manager will be responsible for the programs offered by SMUM and our facility and grounds.
We are grateful to God for his many blessings showered upon SMUM. Please join us in prayer at this important juncture in the history of Santa Maria Urban Ministry and, of course, we welcome your financial donations that will make it possible to continue to staff the Ministry in such a way as to serve more people with more meaningful programs which enable people to become more self-sustaining in these difficult times.
(This article is also published in the April 2012 edition of The Canticle newsletter of SMUM.)