05:22 PM

This Las Cruces daycare for homeless kids will give you hope

Jardin de los Ninos – Garden of the Children – gives kids a safe place to grow and dream

Audrey Hartley owns four pairs of red, sparkly shoes, sort of like the ones Dorothy wears in “The Wizard of Oz.”

“They remind me about what we’re doing here,” Hartley says. “We’re helping people find home – just like Dorothy.”

Hartley is the executive director of Jardin de los Ninos, a non-profit school dedicated to helping families struggling with homelessness and near-homelessness.

Their goal? “Break the cycle,” Hartley says.

That means Jardin de los Ninos, which receives assistance from Whataburger and other area businesses, offers families a range of services to get on their feet.

“We not only care for the kids during the day so the parents can look for a job or get an education – but we also educate the parents,” Hartley says. “The ultimate goal is to give them the tools they need to break the cycle of homelessness.”

Adrian Pedroza, whose son and daughter are students at the center, says it has made all the difference for his family.

“We didn’t know where to go or what to do,” Pedroza says. “When we were sleeping in a van, the kids were crying, they were cranky. Then, we came to Jardin.”

And that’s when things started to change.

Knowing the kids were well cared for, Pedroza was able to focus on work. His wife, Adriana, went back to school. Now, the family of four is living in an apartment and building a future.

“You want a better life for your kids,” Pedroza says. “Right? That’s what everyone wants. And Jardin is helping us do that.”

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