A Look Back In Time
Mary Sheridan devoted her life to helping people and in faithful service to her church. In the early 1980’s while she was a volunteer at the Pregnancy Counseling Center in Torrance which she helped established, she became poignantly aware of the need to do more for the pregnant mothers and their babies – a tangible need for the basic human right to shelter.
Mary rounded up her family and friends; many shared her dream and joined her quest. In 1984, an anonymous donor donated stocks that were sold for $70,000 in 1985. This made the dream possible. With the down payment in hand, the search went on for the ideal home. Another volunteer at the center, Teresa Sedillos, a real estate agent found the house on Koleeta Drive. It was perfect — a large five bedroom split level house conveniently located near a hospital, schools and public transportation. Casa de los Angelitos was born.
In the months that followed, the community literally pulled together to get Casa ready. To help with furnishings, churches were asked to sponsor rooms. Fr. Patrick McHugh of Nativity Church was first to generously offer to purchase new furniture for the living room. Others soon enthusiastically followed — American Martyrs in Manhattan Beach: kitchen; St. Lawrence Martyr in Redondo Beach: office and family room; St. Margaret Mary’s in Lomita: housemother’s room. The four resident bedrooms were furnished by St. Joseph’s in Hawthorne, Harbor Church in Lomita, St. John Fisher Youth Group in Rancho Palos Verdes, and a coalition of Branch of Hope in Torrance, Calvary Assembly of God in Lomita, and Crusade for Life in Torrance.
A small army of volunteers helped prepare the interior of the house by cleaning, painting, and doing minor repairs. Plumbing, heating, and flooring were upgraded by retired professionals and area businesses in the industry.
“To see everyone labor so diligently and so joyfully has impressed us with the goodness of God’s people… We feel that their love will permeate our house so that future residents will have no doubt of God’s special love for them and their babies.” Mary Sheridan said in 1986
The first residents moved into Casa de los Angelitos in August of 1986. All five residents underwent extensive interviews before being selected. All were required to attend school, work, or volunteer at least 16 hours a week while living at Casa. They were offered programs on budgeting, house management, and other skills.
Mary Sheridan served as the first President of the Casa de los Angelitos Board of Directors. Mary’s husband Bill was the first Treasurer. Other founding members included Terri Mostero, Olive O’Brien, Roberta Roche, Jim and Berthe Slattery, and Drs. Mario and Dora Silvestre. All the founding members served Casa for many years and some are still very much involved in the programs.
From its inception, Casa has remained fully funded by private donations and grants and does not receive any funding from the government. Berthe Slattery
recalls the many challenges they faced but one that stands out was when they were running out of funds that they could not make the mortgage payments. The board members painstakingly took turns paying the monthly mortgage. Just when everything seemed darkest, an anonymous donor paid off the balance.
Mary’s dream lives on. For 37 years, through economic recessions, seven United States Presidents, and a global pandemic, Casa has provided much more than the basic need for shelter. Casa has offered educational opportunities, counseling, guidance, friendship, and a sense of self-worth to mothers in need in order for them and their babies to have a future. Close to nine hundred babies have been cared for at Casa since its inception. Many of these women have gone on to live successful and fruitful lives, lives that would not have been feasible without Casa’s intervention.
And all these have been possible only with your support. Please help us keep the dream alive and make it a reality. We need you.