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Casa Valentina Opens in Florida

03/28/2007

Following is an update from Casa Valentina on the opening of their first house for young women in Miami-Dade County, Florida.

Casa Valentina: From Dream To Reality

Just over two years ago, Casa Valentina was an idea, a dream. It came about in the fall of 2004 when a group of concerned women came together and acknowledged the immense challenges faced by young women in Miami-Dade County who age out of foster care at age 18 without the life experience, financial stability and support they need to survive on their own. Facing numerous transitional challenges, these young women are vulnerable to prostitution, incarceration, pregnancy, violence, sexual abuse and homelessness.

This group of concerned women, now known as the Casa Valentina Executive Board, pledged to do something about these dire circumstances, and Casa Valentina quickly became a vision of safe, affordable housing and comprehensive support services to help foster girls successfully transition to independent living. That is where Casa Valentina and V-Day intersected. A beautiful friendship afforded Casa Valentina the opportunity to introduce Eve Ensler to the crisis facing these young women. A year later in November 2005, Casa Valentina produced a sold-out benefit performance of The Vagina Monologues. Despite a major hurricane that forced the play to be rescheduled, more than 1,000 people filled the historic Gusman Theater for the Performing Arts in downtown Miami to see the show that starred a long list of local celebrities, activists and dignitaries, and Eve Ensler herself.

V-Day Miami was an incredible springboard for Casa Valentina and the start of a magical journey towards mobilizing a community of support and turning Casa Valentina from a dream to a reality. Today, Casa Valentina is a fully functioning residential and support services program that addresses the unique gender-specific needs of young women transitioning from foster care to independent living. On February 24, 2007, we commemorated our biggest milestone yet – the Grand Opening of our first apartment building. In all, we have two residential properties with room for 14 young women, and a comprehensive social service program provided by staff and volunteers that wraps each girl with the support, skills and resources she needs to ultimately achieve independence.

Casa Valentina is grateful to V-Day and Eve Ensler for embracing our cause, sharing our passion and offering unconditional love and support for our mission.

Sincerely,
Lisa Schejola Akin, Sharon Socol, Jen Gregory,
Casa Valentina
www.casavalentina.org