About Us

About Our Casa

Casa Milagro is a safe, trusting, and nurturing community for adults recovering from homelessness and debilitating mental illness. Each of our twelve residents has a private room in a large home with ample common spaces: living room, dining room, art room, “quiet” room, porches, and yards. The house is designed to balance privacy and community, giving and receiving companionship and support.  

Our staff coordinates and supports residents in accessing medical and therapeutic support in the wider community. We simultaneously cultivate a therapeutic environment in-house to support recovery at home. We listen and trust individuals in what they want and need to thrive, encouraging our residents as they establish, and meet, their own goals. Most importantly, we walk with them as they reach for those goals.  

We are a 501c3, guided by HUD guidelines for Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH). Residents can stay as long as they need, as long as they respect the program’s guidelines. We are proud that our housing is affordable and accessible to low income people. Casa Milagro is a member of the New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness (NMCEH) and shares in that coalition’s mission to end homelessness in New Mexico, by supporting our neighbors in need.

 

Our History

With equal parts compassion, vision, and gritty determination,  Meryl Lieberman and Carol Luna Anderson founded Casa Milagro in 1995. Their goal: to provide a safe, supportive, reliable home to people experiencing a spectrum of serious mental illnesses.

Meryl says, “Casa Milagro was founded on an assumption that belonging and being a part of the bigger whole is the real healing force...We were very intentional in that regard.” Furthermore, Meryl adds that the presence of animal companions has been important since the beginning. People are invited to bring animals into their home, which generates joy and healing. ​

 

Extending beyond the home into the neighborhood, in the early days,  Casa Milagro hosted a barbeque to increase positive visibility and to build relationships with neighbors. Their support sometimes manifested in offering small jobs to residents--helping with horses or babysitting, for example.

Then tragedy came. Casa Milagro hadn’t been up and running long when a fire ravaged the home, rendering it unlivable. Following the fire, Carol Luna Anderson urged HUD to help bring Casa Milagro back to life. Through HUD’s assistance, the “House of Miracles” came into being. Through the vicissitudes of life, people have come and gone, offering and receiving their own gifts. As they’ve continued on their paths, Casa Milagro has maintained a commitment to healing through the discovery of greater belonging.

 

Our Board

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Patricia Woodworth

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Board President

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Adam Leonard

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Board Member

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Hilary Stim

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Board Member

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Vaune Hegmann

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Board Member

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Liz Cervio

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Board Member

Board Bios

Patricia Woodworth 

Board President

Patricia Joined Casa Milagro’s Board in 2021 and was elected Board President in June, 2022. She spent her career as CFO / COO at large, non-profit institutions including the university of Chicago, The J. Paul Getty Trust, The Art Institute of Chicago, and the Trust for Historic Preservation before retiring to Santa Fe in 2018. She is grateful to the residents, staff, volunteers and Board members for welcoming her into their community.

Adam Leonard

Board Member

Adam Leonard joined the Casa Milagro Board in 2021. Previously he was a member of the Vermont State Rehabilitation Council for five years, two of which he served as council Chair. He also served as Chair of the Working Bridges Advisory Council, an employer collaborative supported by the United Way of Chittenden County, that developed initiatives to provide low to moderate wage earners the access to resources and support to assist them in being successful at work and secure in their economic stability. Adam is passionate in his belief that a community is stronger when all individuals within it are supported and included, and that supported and included individuals can build a stronger community. He sees Casa Milagro as a vital component of this equation, offering that support and inclusion to those in our community who most need it. Adam has been working in the field of Human Resources for the past 18 years and currently serves as the Human Resources Director for the North Central RegionalTransit District. He moved to New Mexico with his family in 2018 from Vermont.

Hilary Stim 

Board Member

Hilary Stim joined the board in 2020. Currently, Ms. Stim works within the New Mexico Children Youth and Families Department (CYFD) where she oversees various youth-based congregate care settings and clinical interventions. Previously, she acted as the Program Director of Asian Family Support Services of Austin, an agency providing assistance to survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and trafficking with a specialized focus on working with Asian communities. Hilary gained teaching and program experience working in schools in Virginia and Texas. Presently, she is in the dissertation phase of her PhD. at the School of Social Work at Virginia Commonwealth University where her focus is on the intersection between refugee youth and public schools.

Vaune Hegmann 

Board Member

Vaune Hegmann has worked in social services for four decades including fifteen years directing congregate living programs.  She believes whole-heartedly that peace within ourselves, between each other, and with our planet are attainable goals.  She is interested in the creation of viable human communities with the goal of applying the characteristics of viability to all human endeavors.  Vaune has served as Board President for the New Mexico Association on Higher Education and Disability and as an Advisory Board Member for the Loyola University New Orleans Proposed Center for Cosmological and Ecological Studies.  She joined the Casa Milagro Board in 2021. 

Liz Cervio 

Board Member

Liz is a retired psychotherapist and educator and has lived in and loved northern New Mexico since 1970. She has served on Casa Milagro’s Board since 2017. Aware of the continually expanding human rights issues of global, national, regional and community homelessness, Liz is committed to being of service to people needing a sustainable and safe place to live.

 

Our Leadership

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Desirée Bernard

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Executive Director

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Jerry Bartley

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Interim Program Manager

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Erica Westby

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Clinical Supervisor

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Carolyn Shayte

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Community Outreach and Mental Health Support Worker

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Akila Pervis

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Community Support Worker

Staff

Desirée Bernard, B.A, MDiv
Executive Director

Long passionate about mental health and healing through the lens of understanding social systems, Desiree is grateful to have met Meryl Lieberman who brought her into contact with Casa Milagro in 2017. Desiree earned a B.A. in Psychology and Religion from the University of California Santa Cruz and an MDiv from Harvard Divinity School. She believes in the healing power of community and is committed to fostering interpersonal connection in ways that bring out the innate wholeness and knowing which resides within each individual.

 

Desiree's passion for community building includes a commitment to taking the climate crisis seriously in the housing (and every) sector, transforming human-created systems to end reliance on destructive fossil fuel energy and embracing the power of energy efficiency and renewable energy to meet human needs. Through honoring our natural, planetary, ecological home, Desiree believes we connect more deeply to who we are.

Jerry Bartley
Interim Program Manager

An indirect Texas transplant living in New Mexico for seven years, Jerry received his higher education from the US Army, and he studied at Naropa University in Boulder, CO in the Religious Studies and Writing and Literature programs. Before arriving at Casa Milagro, Jerry was a Program Coordinator at Benchmark Human Services, working with individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities. He loves to see the growth each person at Casa Milagro undergoes, mostly through the work and love each one shares.

Erica Westby, MA LPCC

Clinical Supervisor

Originally from New Mexico, Erica earned her BA in Psychology from the University of Arizona. From the age of eleven she wanted to be a mental health therapist and has worked in the mental health field in various capacities for over twenty years. In 2007 she earned her MA in Counseling from Southwestern College and currently has a small private practice, in addition to her position as Clinical Supervisor at Casa Milagro. She feels passionately about healing the belief systems and paradigms that often keep cycles of judgment and shame present in people’s lives. Her life experiences have led her to believe that loving, inherent in each human being, is a true healing force that every human deserves to give and receive. 

Carolyn Shayte, MA LMHC, ATR-P

Community Outreach and Mental Health Support Worker

Carolyn holds a BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art in Interdisciplinary Sculpture and a MA from Southwestern College in Art Therapy and Counseling. They see healing as a life-long process that takes many different forms and variations and believe that the more we can know ourselves, the more ability we have to change. Carolyn sees art and community as tools for discovery, empowerment, and transformation, and can help us cope through life’s transitions.

Akila Pervis,

Community Support Worker

Originally from Phoenix,  Arizona, Akila relocated to the beautiful city of Santa Fe seventeen years ago, working as an Operations Manager and an instructor for several group fitness classes. As a Certified Personal Trainer, professional bodybuilder, and former fitness club owner, health and wellbeing has always been a very important part of her life. She finally found her true passion working at The Life Link as a Case Manager, serving individuals and families experiencing homelessness, mental health challenges, substance use disorders, and other co-occurring challenges. Akila feels wholeheartedly that it is an honor to work at Casa Milagro, supporting and advocating for the amazing individuals in our program, as they find greater wellbeing in their lives.

 
Casa In the News

Shelter Embraces Solar Power
(Santa Fe New Mexican & Rick Ruggles)

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Solutions Discussion at Homelessness Town Hall
(Santa Fe New Mexican & Megan Taros)

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Santa Fe Group Home to go Solar
(Yale Climate Connection)

Forging A Home
(The New Mexican & Olivia Harlow)

A True Christmas Miracle
(MK Mendoza & Wake Up Call!)

The Power of Housing
(Santa Fe Reporter & Katherine Lewin)

3 Questions | Meryl Lieberman
(Santa Fe Reporter & Katherine Lewin)

Casa Builds Community
(MK Mendoza & Wake Up Call!)