OCEANSIDE — The third in a yearlong series of benefit concerts to raise funds and awareness for Saint Clare’s Home domestic violence shelters was held Jan. 2 outside Cafecito on The Strand coffee shop. Performers and nonprofits groups entertained spectators and shared information.
“It’s a good cause to support,” Federico Guerrero, leader of Grupo Folklorico Yadis, said.
Grupo Folklorico Yadis opened the benefit concert with traditional ballet folklorico dances from Jalisco and Guerrero. A painter and magician also entertained the crowd.
Rita Sweeting, owner of God’s Little Garden store, organized the yearlong concert series after meeting Sister Claire. “I met Sister Claire and felt they really needed money,” Sweeting said. “People don’t know
what’s going on with domestic violence, or the depth of what’s going on.”
For Saint Clare’s Home founder, Sister Claire Frawley, helping homeless women is a mission. Her efforts to reach out to women in need began in 1983, after she retired from teaching and moved to California. Shortly after her move, Frawley met a homeless woman with a child on the street without a place to live. Frawley’s heart opened to the woman and she took the woman and child home with her. “By end of the month, I had a full house,” Sister Claire Frawley said. “It hasn’t stopped in 25 years.”
Frawley now has seven residential houses, known collectively as Saint Clare’s Home, open to women who are getting back on their feet. “It’s a mission,” Frawley said. “It’s challenging, but very rewarding.”
Women at Saint Clare’s Home are often referred by the court to attend the program because of drug and alcohol problems.
“One common thread is low self-esteem,” Frawley said. “Many came from families where they were abused. We try to break that cycle.”
The nondenominational program at Saint Clare’s Home helps about 400 women a year gain self-sufficiency through a two-phase approach. First women get shelter, food, clothing, and a series of self-improvement classes, including anger management, and drug and alcohol recovery.
In the second phase, women study at Palomar College and gain job skills. “In two years, they’re ready to move out,” Frawley said. “We also give after care once a week.”
“We’re there to help them get their lives back together,” Frawley said. “The only time I’m heartbroken is when women leave before the two years. I know they’ll be back.”
Monthly benefit concerts to support Saint Clare’s Home are planned through November at various locations around San Diego County. The next concerts to hit Oceanside are Feb. 26 at MiraCosta College and May 10 at Cafecito on The Strand. For more information, call (760) 512-1658.