On November 6, 2018 the Valley Family Center held an open house in honor of Sr.Carmel Somers, who has been an integral part of the organization for the past 25 years.
It was a moment in time to recognize and give thanks for the vision, tenacity, risk taking and discernment that Carmel took in initiatives to serve the poor. For the last 57 years of her life she has dedicated herself to helping residents of San Fernando Valley in her various roles as Community Organizer, Executive Director of the Center and more recently the Learning Center Director.
The Center’s humble beginnings began in a small room located at Santa Rosa parish. Later it moved to another facility where services were increased. Finally a larger property was was purchased and renovated to house expanded Counseling opportunities to victims of domestic violence, to women divorced and abused, to children with learning disabilities. To this end a computerized learning Center was established which offers after school tutoring to children of low income families. Opportunities to engage in art projects and other creative activities are also provided.
A non- profit Advisory Board composed of civic leaders, lawyers, community leaders and politicians was established to lend oversight, offer advice and engage in resource development for the Center. The presence and participation of board members spoke volumes about their delight to be included in leadership for the Center. Many gave witness and gratitude to Carmel - she was a light in the darkness and her presence brought change to the tenor of the East Valley. One Judge shared that when he had a bad day in Court, he would come to the Center meet with Carmel and she would put his experience into context which brought him peace.
For many years Sr. Carmel worked alongside another Sister of Charity, Sr Una Connolly, at the Center. Sr Una had recently returned to live in Ireland but Una’s hairdresser came to express her gratitude and to honor Carmel for the impact she had in her life.
During the open house, Carmel was presented with official recognitions from Supervisor Sheila Kuehl and Senator Bob Hertzberg for her years of service to the Community and to Valley Family Center. It was evident with the many testimonies shared that Carmel and Una had created a corporate sense of the RSC charism and mission. Looking to the future Carmel, enabled and empowered the new CEO Gary Bessler to continue the leadership of passing on the charism. Carmel, came across as a true daughter of Mary Aikenhead and she leaves a legacy of people who will be forever grateful for her kind service.
Anna Maria McLaughlin, RSC
Edith Prendergast, RSC