History of ERI

In the beginning, shelter residents were housed in private homes and later in the basement of the old Watts Clinic. Shelter services were closed in 1987 due to low occupancy and decreased funding. For three years the agency limited its services to out-client counseling and advocacy for victims of domestic violence. When clients needed shelter they went to Las Cruces, or sought temporary, safe haven within other agencies in the community.

In 1990, as a result of increased community education on the prevalence of domestic violence and the need for services, the shelter reopened at Marion Hall on the campus of St. Mary's through a ten-year, rent-free lease from the Sisters of St. Joseph. In 1992 Sister Carmel Garcia became Executive Director of El Refugio at its location at St. Mary's in Silver City.

During the next decade, services expanded to include a satellite program in Luna County, which became an independent program in 1998, and satellite offices in Hidalgo County and Catron County. The visibility and credibility of the our mission increased significantly and a very supportive community helped in the planning process; The Town of Silver City, along with donating the land for the building and being the applicant and fiscal agent for the CBDG, spent a couple of months moving the dirt to prepare the site.

In February 2001 El Refugio moved into its new facility at 800 S. Robert Street. The facility houses 16 beds for emergency shelter and four units for transitional housing, kitchen, dining room and living room areas for the residents plus an enclosed courtyard and play area. In the same building are support staff, including two counselors, legal services and client advocates, and rooms for out-client services such as [ parenting classes ] and other educational programs.

The Dedication Ceremony on February 11, 2001, attended by more than 250 people, confirmed the support of the residents of Grant County. Our success was a joint effort of the Town of Silver City, Grant County, New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority and El Refugio.

Sister Carmel Garcia

carmelgarciaIn 1992 Carmel became Executive Director of El Refugio, a shelter for families of domestic violence in Silver City, New Mexico. El Refugio was located at St. Mary's in Silver City for over ten years. One of Sister Carmel's mission's was to have a new shelter built for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault to serve the Tri-County area. Her mission was accomplished. In 1998 through her leadership and commitment, the Healing House was established in Deming, NM. In 2000, a new shelter was built for El Refugio that was dedicated in her name as "Casa Carmel" by El Refugio Board of Directors.

Sister Carmel received a bachelor's degree in Spanish from Marymount College, Salina, Kansas and a master's of education degree from Kansas State University in Manhattan. She taught in schools staffed by the Sisters of St. Joseph in Chicago, Gladstone, Michigan, and Salina, Junction City and Abilene, Kansas. Beginning in 1974 Carmel served the poor in El Paso, Texas, Palomas, Mexico, and Silver City and Las Cruces, N.M. Upon moving to Concordia in 2002, she became the Director of Development for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia. She held this position until her retirement in 2010. Sister Carmel Garcia passed away on June 12, 2012 at Nazareth Motherhouse in Concordia, Kansas - she was 73 years old.

To leave this site quickly, use this quick exit button or press the "escape" key.

El Refugio
800 S. Robert Street
Silver City, NM 88061
Office: 575-538-2125
Fax: 575-538-0495

Toll Free: 1-888-538-2125




TTY 1-800-787-3224

Peace in the World
Begins at Home