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

51 thoughts on “The Casa in Tijuana

  1. Hello, I have some warm coats and kids clothing I would love to donate to the casa. Unfortunately I’m not able to cross to Tijuana at this moment, can I drop off these items at your location in La Joya? Can you confirm the address? Thank you and God bless.

  2. Hello. I have some clothes I would like to donate, but most are for adults/teenagers. Is it still okay to drop them off, or do you only take children’s clothes? It’s very good quality clothes. Thank you so much for all you do.

  3. I tried calling the Casa directly but received no answer. I have clothes for young females and mature women, as well clothes for children, along with shoes. I would like to know if I can take those items and if they will accept them.

  4. Hola, buenas tardes. ¿Quisiera saber si están aceptando donaciones para niños de edad 0-6 (juguetes, ropa, calzado, libros: en español e inglés)?


  5. i normally go at least twice a year and hand out cup o noodles, can i donate la casa tijuana, also work boots sneakers and baseball cleats? i will be going this fri and sat.

    • Thank you Tony. The Casa can accept your donations Monday through Friday, and will gladly accept your Cup O’ Noodles, work boots, and sneakers. Thank you for thinking of us.

  6. Hola buenos dias, esperamos que primerament Dios todos esten bien
    vivimos en california somos un familia bendecida por Dios y como mama de 2 hemosos hijos siento la necesidad y el llamado de que ellos vean que hay otors ninos que necesitan ayuda y amor de otras personas. Necesito ayuda como poder llegar hacer parte de su origanisacion y que mi famila sea parte de ayuda voluntaria para los demas.
    Gracias por su tiempo y esperamos escuchar de ustedes
    Buenos Dias

  7. Hi there! I am a 25 year old woman living in San Diego, CA. I would love to volunteer at Casa de los Pobres in Tijuana in any way I can. I was wondering if/what upcoming opportunities there are to do so? I also speak a decent amount of Spanish if that helps! 🙂 Thank you and looking forward to hearing from you!

    • Thank you Alisha for your interest in volunteering for the Casa. Meals are served Monday through Friday, and the clinic is open during the week, along with other services. Volunteers are welcome to help from Monday to Friday.

  8. Hi good evening,

    I’m reaching out because my parents have have donated a couple of times. This last time that they tried to bring clothes and supplies they were giving a hard time trying to take the items. Is there any possibility you can write a letter stating they will be taking different items to the shelter.

    • Unfortunately, no used clothing or shoes are able to be taken across the border by anyone, including the Sisters from the Casa. We thank you for your interest in donating, and will gladly accept non-perishable foods (peanut butter, tuna, beans, rice, flour), extra backyard fruit and vegetables, and toiletries (toilet paper, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and shampoo).

  9. I will be going to Tijuana soon, and would like donate items to this shelter. Can I please get a list of things that are needed immediately? I have lots of baby clothes. What else can I take?

    • Dear Giselle,

      Thank you for considering the Casa. They do need baby clothes. They also need food, blankets and warm clothing. The truck that comes to the US to pick up articles, food, etc. is not allowed to take used clothing across the boarder. So you must be careful not to pack your car too full. A good idea perhaps is to put the clothing in suitcases or duffle bags. You do not want to be pulled over to secondary inspection.

      New Year Blessings, Pat Erzinger

  10. Hola , quisiera poder ayudar . Actualmente me encuentro en Los Angeles CA y quiero ayudar de alguna forma a la comunidad de Tijuana . Creo que poner mi granito de arena podría ayudar a un niño oh una familia necesitada . Hubo un tiempo que viví en las calles de Tijuana y creo que es tiempo de regresarle a la ciudad poco a poco por lo mucho que ah inspirado en mi .

    • Gracias por tu mensaje Carlos. Si va a Facebook y busca Casa de Los Pobres USA y “me gusta” en la página, obtendrá nuestras publicaciones. Luego, cada vez que veas nuestra publicación, si pudieras “COMPARTIR” en Facebook, eso ayudaría a más personas a conocer la Casa. Muchas gracias por su interés en ayudar.

    • Hi Al, Thank you for asking! Yes, warm sweaters, jackets, socks, and shoes are especially needed this time of year. You can drop off clean and folded clothing at 6432 Cardeno Drive, La Jolla, 92037. Thanks!

    • 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

  11. 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

  12. 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

    • 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.

  13. 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?

    • 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

  14. 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?

  15. Pingback: A Call from the Lord to Love | Voices From The Pew


    • 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.

  17. 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 sus hijas. .se que va. A este lugar…me han comentado…porfavor….yo se que mucha gente llega a. 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…..

    • 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

  18. Pingback: Starting to See – Our First Day in Tijuana | 2015 PSR Border Immersion

  19. 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

  20. 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.

    • 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

  21. 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?

  22. 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!

    • 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!

  23. 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!

    • 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. 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!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *