June 2023 – Thoughts from Our Founder

Monitoring site visits from grants can be nerve-racking, especially for small non-profit organizations like CasaLuz, which are determined to provide vital services to vulnerable and underserved Hispanic/Latinx victims of domestic violence and other violent crimes. CasaLuz works in an area that is not ready at many levels to serve our clients culturally and linguistically in a welcoming, unjudged manner, and with empathy while honoring their culture and respecting their legal rights.

We have been very fortunate to have support from the TN Office of Criminal Justice Programs (OCJP). When I applied for the first time for a grant over 5 years ago, I didn’t know what to expect. Many people told me not to waste my time, and that having support from this State to serve our clients was close to zero.

It’s good that I don’t listen to negative people, and that I ignored those comments and faced my fears. I submitted that proposal dreaming big in my mind about the many vital services we would provide to our clients, how many lives could be saved, and how many futures could be changed for children growing up in abusive homes.

When we got the notification that the grant was awarded to us, we couldn’t believe it. Five years later, we have two wonderful grants from the State that have allowed us to see transformations of victims into survivors, to see miracles in valuable lives that before felt trapped in the aggressive claws of violence in their homes, a place where every human being should feel protected, loved, and respected.

When OCJP staff, Gary Lee and Shantrelle Johnson, arrived at our office last week, I was so nervous and had a few sleepless nights, but while they were reviewing everything, asking questions, and talking to our staff, my mind was spinning around remembering the first monitoring site visits we had from Jennifer Hicks, Susan French, and Laura Swanson. It brought back memories of many of the pivotal moments that pushed me to found this organization when we didn’t have the support we needed to provide vital services to our clients.

And with the support from our dedicated staff, board members, grants from the federal and state governments, volunteers, and donors, today we can see the positive impact and the strong footprint left not just in the lives of our clients, but also in a city that is very resistant to expanding their minds and their hearts to people that look different from them.

We could not have come this far without the support, advice, dedication, and passion to serve from the OCJP staff. Their professionalism, strict guidance, and ongoing follow-ups have allowed us to be better equipped to follow our mission and to show you all with actions that we don’t take this opportunity lightly. We just want to do the right thing for those that have nothing, and who, many times, don’t even have any hope left.

Thank you for everything you do to help non-profits in TN shine and thrive on behalf of the communities we serve.