History

History

Established in 1989, the Sister Evelyn Mourey Center, originally named Centro de Siempre Aprendiendo has served the community of El Centro by providing food, clothing, and skill-building opportunities for impoverished individuals to improve their livelihood.

Sister Evelyn Mourey of Our Lady of Victory Missionary Sisters, came to the Posada del Sol community, a 318 unit apartment complex located on the northwest side of El Centro, where she witnessed the struggle of the working poor families. It was through her compassion, commitment, and vision of serving these families that she founded SEMC, to act as a conduit for lending a helping hand and providing tangible opportunities for residents of the Posada del Sol community.

In the 1990s, the Posada del Sol apartments were overrun with gangs, vandalism, drugs, and worst of all, violence. Armed with compassion for the working poor and a genuine desire to lend a helping hand, Sister Evelyn collaborated with local organizations to help provide families with food, clothing, and other social services. The assistance was also made possible with the unwavering support of generous volunteers and the Founding Funders of Our Lady of Victory Missionary Sisters. Ultimately, the work of Sister Evelyn was able to turn around the Posada del Sol apartments from being a worrisome landmark in the community to a space that brought hope and opportunity for local residents.

Upon her passing, SEMC and the legacy of Sister Evelyn Mourey continued through the tireless leadership of Sister Maria Luisa Valdez and the volunteer efforts of the community. Through the leadership and community awareness created by Sister Maria Luisa, SEMC's needs of services expanded throughout the Imperial Valley.

In 2008, the Center was incorporated as the Sister Evelyn Mourey Center in honor of the late Sister Evelyn Mourey and, in 2010, SEMC obtained its IRS tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) as a charitable non-profit organization.

Since 2010, the Imperial Valley Housing Authority partnered with SEMC by providing a large Community Room where we now offer English as a Second Language classes, Enrichment Presentations, Holiday Events, Volunteer Appreciation Breakfast and Zumba Classes.

In May 2013, Sister Maria Luisa Valdez retired from her dedicated work at the center and continues to support the center as a Director Emeritus on the Board of Directors. In September of 2013, the Board of Directors hired Mrs. Karen White, a native San Diegan with over 22 years of service in the non-profit communities, to bring the legacy of Sister Evelyn Mourey forward as the new Executive Director.

In June 2014, Posada del Sol expanded SEMC with two more units, doubling the size of the center. This in-kind support now provides additional office space for staff, Computer Center, Small Classroom, our new Emergency Food Pantry, new USDA Distribution Center and our new clothing boutique we call Sisters Closet.

Today, SEMC continues to evolve and, in the spirit of Sister Evelyn, continues to expand its services to help mitigate the emerging needs of the Imperial Valley. We continue to provide a helping hand to improve the wellbeing of those in need, while fostering hope, compassion and dignity to all who enter our doors!