Maryvale team member Kristina Velasquez was born to serve. For 13 years she worked with the cognitively impaired, and later with seniors.
Those years were professionally satisfying, but she didn’t feel as though she was where she needed to be until she began working with the youngest residents at Maryvale; girls ages 6 to 12.
“They are my family,” Kristina says. “I teach them that they are each other’s sisters. To me, they’re superheroes. They really are. They’ve gone through some stuff, and it’s so hard for them to be vulnerable, to accept our love and support. We have to be there when they’re hurting. We have to inspire them to be more, no matter where they come from, no matter the obstacles they’ve encountered.”
Kristina is busy (an understatement!) four days a week, 10 hours a day providing guidance, empathy, and a loving ear to these children in crisis. More than that, she offers them a sense of dignity and respect, and shows them what it is to be loved unconditionally. As much as anything, she wants them to feel safe, and to learn how to trust.
Kristina challenges, and she teaches. But she also learns. “Every day these kids teach me something,” she explains. The daily exchanges have had an impact on her own life in ways she never imagined.
The mother of an adult daughter, she also has a young son and two grandchildren. She says her experiences with the girls of Maryvale have helped her to love and appreciate her family even more.
As the voice of wisdom and compassion, Kristina’s ability to connect with the children is a gift. “This job is life-changing,” she said.