Who We Are

Our History

Villa Maria is located in the building originally built in the 1950’s under the direction of the Jesuit priests at Sacred Heart Catholic Church to serve as a parish home for poor and abandoned elderly women. The parish ran the home for twenty years until financial constraints in the 1970’s necessitated turning the facility over to the Catholic Diocese of El Paso. Under Diocesan sponsorship the home expanded residency to include elderly men and operated as the Diocesan Home for the Elderly until February 2003 when lack of adequate funding and inability to provide health related services for the residents mandated that the facility be closed. Immediately following the closure the pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, committed to responding to the needs of the poor, enlisted a committee to tackle ongoing homelessness in the area. On February 19, 2007 the building, newly renovated and separately incorporated as a non-profit entity, was opened to accommodate 22 women in safe, secure, temporary housing that had been thoughtfully redesigned to meet unique womanly needs.


Our Goal

Our goal is to instill hope and to inspire our guests to overcome the crisis that brought them to our door. We do this with guidance and by setting clear expectations, such as: 

  • Remaining drug and alcohol free› Staying involved in case management
  • Saving income for rent and furnishing permanent housing
  • Respecting the safety and comfort of other guests
  • Sharing in chores
  • Abiding by the rules 

Our services are a blessing for the women that need our help. Villa Maria offers each guest comprehensive planning to help her find solutions for her crisis. Professional case management services also accompany each woman.

Health and Substance Abuse Recovery

  • Facilitate Medical Care
  • Arrange Eye Exam and assistance with glasses› Facilitate Dental Care› Drug and Alcohol Outpatient Services
  • AA meetings with follow up discussion
  • Health and Wellness Promotion› Healthy Living Classes
  • Healing Touch Massages
  • Dietary Tips
  • Proper Nutrition
  • Haircuts and Manicures provided by volunteers

Emotional Well-Being

  • Counseling
  • Psychological Evaluations
  • Life Skills Classes
  • Self Esteem Classes
  • Forgiveness Classes

Education and Employment Training

  • Job Training
  • Resume updating
  • Assistance with Employment Search
  • Further Education
  • ESL classes and tutoring
  • GED classes and tutoring
  • Book Club

Legal and Financial

  • Financial Benefits
  • Benefits Application Assistance including compiling all required      documents
  • Budgeting Assistance
  • Savings Plan
  • Legal Services
  • Immigration Renewals

Housing Assistance

  • Assistance with Affordable Housing
  • Transportation to evaluate possible housing

Client Intake Process

Villa Maria receives referrals from various agencies including: probation officers, social workers, hospitals, the Center Against Family Violence, drug and alcohol treatment programs, other shelters and mental health agencies.  And often women in need simply ring the doorbell for help. Within a year’s time we receive more than three times the number of requests for shelter than we can realistically handle. During an initial interview with the Case Manager, each potential guest is invited to explore the root causes of her homelessness and to discuss goals that will help her heal and ultimately lead to her self-sustainability. Then, when there is an available room, the woman in the most desperate situation, who demonstrates a sincere commitment to strive toward meeting her goals, is welcomed to Villa Maria.

Our Staff

Linda Velarde

Executive Director

Sr. Mary Margaret Murphy, SL

Case Manager

Crystal Mireles

Graciela Aguayo

Hilda Romero

Cecilia Murillo

Araceli Olivas

Board of Directors

Roberta Olguin


"For me joining Villa Maria was about finding a way to give back to my community.  But, it quickly became so much more.  Seeing the shelter and meeting the ladies has been so inspirational.  Villa Maria is so much more than just a shelter.  Yes, it is lodging.  And, yes, it provides transitional living.  But, if you spend just a few minutes there, it is not hard to see it is a home.  Villa Maria is a sanctuary for women to heal and become whole.  A place where they are safe and given the opportunity to find their way.  The ladies are incredible.  They are some of the bravest women I’ve met and it has been a humbling experience."

Teeni Provencio

Vice President
"Giving back to a generous community is vital for all El Pasoans.  I have chosen to give my time to this beautiful shelter because of the many ways it helps these unfortunate ladies on so many levels."

Alexandra Chavez

Vice President
"I have always been passionate about helping others. I have been fortunate enough to participate in impacting the women of Villa Maria. I find it very important to empower women who have faced life's darkest adversities. Being a part of this board has taught me the importance of channeling my skills to help strengthen our community." 

Sr. Helen Santamaria

Founding Emeritus Trustee

"Having been an active member of the Board of Directors since our 2003 incorporation as a non profit agency, my ongoing  realization of God's incredible offerings has only widened my embrace to every person who has contributed to this loving ministry we call Villa Maria."

Edy Payan


Isela Vargas

"Let all that you do be done in love.
1 Corinthians 16:14"

Fr. Ron Gonzales

"My vocation as priest has allowed me to help lift the burdens of people with the help of God.  Along the way we all need a little help and support during those tough times and it's good to know that someone cares."

Silvia Chiocco

"As Mother Theresa said: Faith in action is love and love in action is service."

Priscilla Viescas Sanchez


"You don't need a reason to help people, having compassion is reason enough. We should help people because we are human and we are called to be humane by the Holy Spirit.   I work as a board member to uphold the security of the infrastructure of the organization that is Villa Maria so that this shelter provide community to those that have no where to go and no one to depend on." 

Ed Santamaria

"Villa Maria is a cause very near and dear to my heart.  I've been involved with the shelter from day one.  I believe in helping people.  It makes for a better world and hopefully it makes each of us a better person.  We never know when we might be the ones in need of help."

Monica Lorey


"I joined Villa Maria because I love that our board works very hard and truly cares about the mission. I love that Villa Maria stands for helping and empowering women to stand on their own again. A most fulfilling moment was when the women at the shelter were provided with new beds, pillows and bedding. The women were so excited about something that we take for granted every day."

Veronica Talavera

I have chosen to be part of the board at Villa Maria because it's God inspired!"  

Become a Volunteer!

Please fill out the volunteer application below and return to Villa Maria.

VV Volunteer (jpg)


Villa Maria

Video Credit: Joe Najera, Diocese of El Paso