“I give thanks to God that I came to work at Mission Lazarus,” she tells me one day while folding recently inventoried clothing in the warehouse. “Being a Refuge caregiver changed my whole life - I got to know God in a deeper way, and the opportunity allowed me to serve others. Over time I became a Christian, and the mission continued to be a “school” for me in other ways… I have learned a different way to see myself, manage my own family, and support and discipline my household.”
Damaris remembers February 2013 when she received her initial training, “Personally, that’s where God began to transform my way of thinking. My biggest takeaway after training was the realization that The Refuge is a “living project” because it deals with human beings. The reality for the kids and the caregivers alike is that life is a continuous learning experience. Like any new job, at first I was a little fearful but I plunged right in because I wanted to be a great caregiver. Everyone makes mistakes, and The Refuge is an environment that redeems mistakes by learning from them to refine one’s character. Over time as I gained experience, I came to love the Refuge as much as my own family.” Damaris goes on to explain how she has been able to successfully change problem behaviors at home using the methods she learned as a caregiver at the Refuge. “It’s even changed my vocabulary,” she says. "I talk of consequences, not punishment."
In August of 2015, Damaris became the administrative assistant to Gustavo Betancourt, the Refuge director. His leadership has been a key element to her successful transition not only at work but also in her spiritual life. “Each Monday Gustavo delivers an encouraging message in our caregivers’ meeting that I can transmit to my family and friends, not just my coworkers. Something he constantly puts before us is the idea of working as a body - it’s a Biblical image of unity, respect, and equal responsibility."
Weekly family meetings are a great example of this emphasis, as every family member exercises his voice, from oldest to youngest. “It’s a great time for each person to express what they want, what they like, don’t like, or are worried about. It keeps us accountable and closer to each other. We grow together.”
that's what it's all about.