After thirteen years of faithful ministry, Wanda Ashworth-Valencia is moving to be closer to family in July.  As we looked to hire a Spiritual Formation Director, one of the many roles she filled, we sent job requests to seminaries, partner ministries, and made online postings to seek the best candidate to lead this important aspect of our programming.  We looked across Miami-Dade County and across the country for the right person to guide our children and youth.  After numerous interviews, we found no one with as great sense of passion, understanding of the West Homestead community, and experience with youth as our very own Martin Villa.

As many of you know, Martin first came to Touching Miami with Love: West Homestead (formerly Open House Ministries) as a second grade student. During his time in the program, Wanda’s love had a profound influence on Martin.  As he grew up in the program, Wanda encouraged him and challenged him to grow as a leader first through a summer position in high school and later as a fellow staff member. Martin has shared about his passion for TML and his West Homestead community in several settings. In 2015, he was asked about the students that he teaches, “I see my second grade self in them as I teach them and hang out with them. When they tell me their struggles, I see my struggles. I see the things I used to go through as a child with my family. I can feel them. My passion is in these kids . . .that’s what TML is for. For the teenagers and everyone else that I’m teaching now.  This is their home. This the place they need to be.”

We are so grateful to Wanda the legacy she leaves behind in the life of Martin.  Please join us in welcoming Martin into his new role as he leads the spiritual formation of West Homestead’s children and youth.

Martin with campers, Summer 2012