The Casa in Tijuana

About Casa De Los Pobres in Tijuana, Mexico

CasaChristmasThe name means “House of the Poor” in Spanish.  It was originally founded in 1957 by Franciscan Sisters in the Colonia Altamira neighborhood of Tijuana, Mexico.

For more than 50 years, Casa de los Pobres has served the “poorest of the poor” in Tijuana. These families live in nothing more than shacks — with cardboard walls that don’t keep out the cold or rain.  (A blanket is each family’s prized possession, and tarps in rainy season are coveted by the people of the Casa.)

In some areas, the roads become impassable with large ruts and mud, leaving the residents stranded without food for days.  The poor and destitute people that come to the Casa’s doors are sick, hungry, frightened,  and cold — but also humble and hopeful.

The Casa provides poor families with:  NunsHelping

  • A hearty breakfast each morning — usually meat with beans and rice, oatmeal and milk, and always hot tortillas.  For many parents and children, this may be their only meal of the day.
  • A bag of groceries once a week on “Bodega Day” 
  • Clothes that have been donated to the Casa
  • Other home supplies (visitors to the Casa may need soap, toothpaste, shampoo, and other basic necessities)
  • General medical care
  • Education

The Casa is like a big community center for these people — because they have nowhere else.  Fr. Gil Gentile (a Director of the non-profit USA group) says Mass at the Casa every Thursday.

“Many Poor People Living in Shacks Came to Our Convent to Ask for Food . . .”

In 1941, the Franciscan sisters of Our Lady of Peace came as missionaries to Baja CasaRainCalifornia.  The sisters only had a chicken house that they converted into their first convent.  In 1952, a small convent was built in the suburban hill colony, where the Casa is now.  Many poor people who lived in shacks, with no roads, no water, and no schools would come to the convent to ask for food and clothes.

The sisters wanted to build a place to take care of these poor people in the hill areas.  In 1957, a piece of land near the convent was loaned to the sisters, to start a place to feed the poor people. It included a horse stable, which became the first building of Casa de los Pobres.

  • The children received school lessons from the sisters
  • Bread was distributed when available, as well as clothes
  • A small wooden room was added and some volunteer doctor would come from time to time to help with medical care for those in such great need.

In 1972, services were improved when a small clinic was built and the dining room was CasaDiningexpanded. The people who come to the Casa for help also volunteer at the Casa — they have been a great support for the daily tasks needed to keep the clinic, dining room, grocery room, and clothing room operating.  They receive a small bag of groceries for their work.

The Casa is also involved in:

  • Delivering food for prisoners in two local jails
  • Giving shelter and housing.  Families show up at the Casa, sometimes with babies, with no place to go.
  • Providing scholarships
  • Spiritual care and home visits in different suburban areas throughout Tijuana, a city of more than 3 million people

Completely Supported by Donations for more than 50 Years

All of the Casa’s services are provided by donations of food, services, and money from various kind souls and organizations.  The Casa has never had a budget available to support its efforts — it relies solely on donations from generous individuals, congregations, and organizations throughout the Western United States and Baja California.

No one is ever turned away at the Casa. All are nourished, in body, mind, and spirit.  kidswaiting

32 thoughts on “The Casa in Tijuana

  1. Hi Therese, Thank you for asking! Yes, we can use baby girl clothing as along as it is in good condition, folded and clean. (It does have to be transported across the border in private cars.)
    Thanks, Pat

  2. Hello. We are hoping to come and serve in any way we can on Thursday, November 24th. We’d be happy to help with bodega day or serving breakfast – – anyway we can be of service. There will be 3 adults and 1 nine year old child – – the adults all speak at least conversational Spanish. Please let us know if this will work and how we should proceed. Thank you for all you do! Amy

  3. Gracias Monica por su interés en ser voluntario para la Casa ti. Las comidas se sirven de lunes a viernes, y la clínica está abierta durante la semana, junto con otros servicios. Los voluntarios son bienvenidos para ayudar de lunes a viernes.

  4. Hola Estoy muy interesada en participar como voluntaria, les agradeceria mucho si me contactan para darme instrucciones sobre como puedo ayudar.

    De chica fui a ayudar y ahora que trabajo para una empresa grande me gustaria que mis companeros realizaran voluntariado en este lugar

    Quedo muy atenta !! gracias

  5. Hi Victor,
    Thank you for asking. At 6432 Cardeno Drive, La Jolla 92037, we gladly accept:
    – Women’s warm jackets and sweaters, but no other women’s clothing.
    – Men’s and children’s clothing — especially coats, jackets, sweaters, socks and shoes.
    – Personal soap, laundry soap, children’s vitamins, baby Tylenol, non-prescription items for babies and children, and Diapers

    You can leave your donations at the door. All clothing must be clean, ironed, and folded as flat as possible to be transported in the trunks of private cars. Thank you for keeping the needs of the people of the Casa in your thoughts, Pat

  6. Is there a place we can donate clothes and hygiene items on the USA side of the border for the casa de los pobres? Or is there somebody that we can deliver them to on the american side of the border?

  7. Hola Paola,
    Gracias por preguntar. Aceptamos con agradecimiento la ropa para las mujeres, hombres y niños, sobre todo ropa de abrigo, chaquetas, suéteres, calcetines y zapatos.

  8. Hola, qué tal.
    Vivo en Tijuana y tengo bastante ropa que puedo donar… ustedes aceptan este tipo de donaciones o tienen ciertas reglas para las donaciones?

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  10. Thank you so much for your wonderful story, Isabel! So happy to hear about your memories of the Casa and how your life has changed since then. Volunteers are happily accepted at the Casa. In San Diego, we collect food for the Casa, and the truck comes every Tuesday to pickup the donations at 6432 Cardeno Drive, La Jolla. Please contact me at 858-551-9245 if you have any questions.

  11. HI, MY NAME IS ISABEL ORDAZ, AS A CHILD I USED TO GO EVERY WEDNESDAY THERE AT CASA DE LOS POBRES TO GET FOOD, AND PLAY WITH ALL MY FRIENDS,MY MOM WILL GO TO SEE THE DR, I HAVE ALOT OF WOUNDERFUL MEMORIES , I REMEMBER GOING TO THE BORDER AND WAIT FOR THE AMERICANS TO COME AND GIVE US GIFTS, MY OLDEST BROTHER GOT SPONSOR BY AN AMERICAN LADY, HE GOT TO GO TO SCHOOL AND GET A CAREER , NOW WE ALL LIVING IN THE STATES AND ME SPECIALLY I DONT FORGET HOW HAPPY I WAS GOING THERE AND I WOULD LIKE TO HELP, LET ME KNOW IN WHAT WAY WILL I BE ABLE TO DO THAT ALL THOSE PEOPLE.

  12. Hola buenas tardes..

    Ojalá y lean este mensaje…estoy buscando a una señora. .ella sellama..Malena..monrroy….es morena, delgada.

    El pelo negro. Y quebrado..le dicen la jipi…Sus hijas la están buscando..

    yo soy una amiga..de sus hijas. .se que va. A este lugar…me han comentado…porfavor….yo se que mucha gente llega a. La.casa del pobre..pero si pueden poner una cartulina con su nombre y apodo.para que ella lo mire y lo lea..porfavor……….se los agradecere…desde Puebla…..

  13. Dear Paula,

    Hi Paula,

    Thank you for inquiring about volunteering at the Casa de los Pobres. I am sure that the Sisters and Senoras would like to meet you. Breakfast is served Monday through Friday beginning at 7:30 AM. and you can help to serve breakfast. Bodega Day is every Thursday @ 11:00 AM and you would be able to help to distribute the food. Other jobs may also be available.

    Thank you very much for wanting to volunteer! Cordially, Pat Erzinger

  14. Me gustaría saber como puedo hacer para ir como voluntaria? Gracias y bendiciones

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  16. Yo quisiera ser algun tipo de trabajo de voluntario y ayudar en lo que pueda si recive este mensaje me puede marcar al 664 121-4436 mi nombre es Jorge

  17. Dear Daniel,

    Thank you for your email asking for help for a destitute family. I would suggest that you request the parents of the little family to go to the Casa de los Pobres and apply at the Social Service Office. It is located above the Medical Clinic in the same building. A hearty breakfast is served at 10:30 AM for all who come. Please be sure and tell them of this. The Social Service Sister will determine whether this family qualifies for medical attention, a bag of groceries on Thursday and limited help with school support. But please know that the breakfast is free for all who come. If other food is available it is served in the early afternoon on the patio for all who come.

    May God Bless you, Pat Erzinger

  18. I live in Tijuana and know of a family who is in very much need of you wonderful bodega program.They are going trough very
    hard times as a familiy due to lack of employment. Can you please tell me how I can enroll this family of 4 in to you program? they have a young teenage son a 6 year old boy and mom and dad.Thank you for your time, I will be waiting for your reply.

  19. Hi, I have many english/spanish dictionaries for children, old curriculum books in spanish and school supplies. Could this be something we could donate to your cause?

  20. The truck from the Casa comes every Tuesday to 6432 Cardeno Drive, La Jolla, CA 92037. Note that July 29 is the last pick-up at that location for the summer. (The truck does not come in August). Pick-ups will resume again the first Tuesday of September. Thanks for your donations!

  21. Could i please get the exact addresses for the drop off locations in la costa and carlsbad please? We have lots of women and children clothes we would like to donate. Love what you all are doing!

  22. Hi Adela,
    The truck from the Casa comes each week to 6432 Cardeno Drive in La Jolla. Or there is a drop-off location in the La Costa/Carlsbad area as well. Thanks for asking!

  23. Ben, thank you for your kind words — and your wonderful remembrance of the Casa de los Pobres in Tijuana, Mexico. Tell us more about your experiences in 1987, and how your work at the Casa changed your path. I wonder how much has changed at the Casa since 1987.

  24. So great to see the website, and to see the Casa still going strong after all these years. I worked there as a Jesuit novice back in 1987, and it changed my life for the better. God bless you all!

  25. Is there a way to become involved beyond making donations? Eg, coming down to help out?

  26. WOW, Iove the new website!!!
    Thank you!!!
    🙂 Caroline
    P.S. How about a header for the monthly newsletters? That way Pat can go electronic (and all those 46-cent stamps, envelopes & paper can go toward beans!

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