Commentary: When the City of Las Cruces partnered with the Mesilla Valley Community of Hope in May 2018 to begin Mano y Mano, a pilot work program for people experiencing homelessness, the goal was to provide temporary jobs for those in need while receiving help where extra attention was needed. The program, implemented within the Parks & Recreation department, is proving successful with very positive results on both sides.
“The Mano y Mano program has helped us with beautification projects and has assisted with sustaining a level of service that our community members expect to see on a daily basis,” said Sonya Delgado, director, Parks & Recreation. The department has used Mano y Mano at Desert Trails, Twin Park, Burn Lake and Veterans Park. Work done by the crew includes erosion control, trash removal, and trail upkeep.
Nicole Martinez, executive director, City of Hope, is encouraged by the progress of the program up to this point. “From May to July, we have had 80 workers (out of 149 who wanted to work) who have participated, and all are unduplicated workers. That number is incredible considering the program only just started.” The number of participants is determined by the program size and the potential is great. The City of Hope served 2,628 homeless last fiscal year. Of that number 10 percent are veterans.
The City of Hope and the City want to grow Mano y Mano to provide as many skill-building jobs as possible that may lead to permanent jobs. “We plan on expanding the program, and we are currently assessing different opportunities within the community,” Delgado said. “There is definitely potential to expand Mano y Mano to other departments.”
For additional information about the program, visit the Community of Hope’s website at http://www.mvcommunityofhope.org/videos/ or contact Las Cruces Parks & Recreation Department at (575) 541-2550.