|Ellen chats with OL workshop speaker Adolphe Pierre-Louis|
She earned this award because of her dedication to improve the lives of refugees, a ministry that she began in 2007 as an ESL (English as a Second Language) tutor for Mexican immigrants for Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe.
She deepened her involvement with refugees through Catholic Charities' Refugee Resettlement and Support program. In 2011, she help found the Conversation Partners program, which provides an additional, informal learning environment for refugees enrolled in ESL classes; participants are able to practice conversational English in small group settings.
"Ellen is an outstanding volunteer and a fine example of the difference that people can make in the lives of their neighbors," said Jim Gannon, CEO of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. "Without volunteers like Ellen, we could not meet the needs of the thousands who call on us."
But she also believes in the big picture, particularly on the connections between direct service and legislative advocacy. Her work with refugees has put her in close contact with some of the most vulnerable members of society. Many of these refugees have fled violence, conflict and extreme poverty.
|A meeting at Sen.Tom Udall's office in Albuquerque|
This direct contact has given her a unique perspective on the value of the federal foreign-assistance programs, which are facing severe funding cuts in Congress. "Through direct hands-on experience, I can share why we need to stop these cuts," said Ellen, who has been one of the principal organizers of the Offering of Letters at Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish.
The letter-writing weekends, she said, help parishioners understand how they can make a difference in addressing domestic and global poverty. "Advocacy through Bread for the World reaches out to a broader group of parishioners," she said.
This year, Ellen and the social justice committee at her parish recruited the JustFaith class to help staff the letter-writing tables.
But her passion goes beyond pen and paper. At a local meeting at a grocery store, she has urged Rep. Martin Heinrich to support foreign aid reform, and she has attended local meetings with the staffs of Rep. Heinrich, Sen. Jeff Bingaman, and Sen. Tom Udall.
Additionally, she was part of a group of local Bread members who met with five people who had declared their candidacy for the soon-to-be-open seat in the First Congressional District.
|Meeting with State Sen. Eric Griego|
|With former State Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones|