Casa de Esperanza’s Mothers of Hope


By Linda K. Eaves | Photos by Nesossi Studios | Flowers by Nora Anne’s Flower Shoppe –

Casa children at play enjoying new homes and their new Casa Moms.

Casa children at play enjoying new homes and their new Casa Moms.

Hope springs eternal for the children of Casa de Esperanza thanks to Fort Bend County Casa de Esperanza Moms. Casa de Esperanza de los Niños – the House of Hope for Children – is a safe place for children in crisis due to abuse, neglect or the effects of HIV. Case de Esperanza provides residential, medical and psychological care according to the needs of each child.

A Casa child: David.

A Casa child: David.

Richmond-Rosenberg area Casa de Esperanza mothers Mary Scalise, Colleen McLaughin and Eileen Piette-Cryar have plenty of love to go around and consider themselves “Mom” to all 70 children they have fostered in the past 15 years. They tell each child they’ll always love them no matter where they are in life – whether they are back with their family or whether they have been adopted by a new family. These three special Casa de Esperanza Moms have grown their families by adding 10 children to their homes through adoption.

“The kids are amazing,” said Mary Scalise. “Casa de Esperanza Moms have a saying: ‘They choose you – you don’t choose them.’ I always asked my adopted son as I tucked him into bed each night, ‘Why did God give you that smile?’ He would reply, ‘So you would find me.’”

Providing a Safe Haven

Casa de Esperanza provides services to stabilize the children’s emotional and developmental needs, but most importantly, the organization provides a home and hope to children who have previously lived their lives in a state of constant fear. When the children arrive, they have multiple medical, emotional and developmental problems due to the trauma they have experienced. Many have not had routine medical care.

Their early life experiences leave the children with reduced abilities to self-regulate their behaviors, difficulties in abilities to reciprocally and safely attach and deficits in social functioning. Foster parents are tasked with the responsibility of helping these children feel safe enough to love and trust the adults in their lives. The Casa de Esperanza mothers of the Richmond and Rosenberg community have successfully accomplished this with the foster and adoptive children in their homes.

These moms are ordinary people; most already had children. But, they are extraordinary because they open their hearts and homes to give children the love and nurturing they so desperately need. Like everyone, these moms lead busy lives but have made these children a priority.

A Team Effort

Colleen McLaughin

Colleen McLaughin

Casa de Esperanza Moms are a close knit group, supportive of one another. They get together every three months or so for potluck dinners or barbecues to celebrate birthdays and holidays. The moms usually end up discussing problems and solutions they have experienced with their children. The families help each other with babysitting, driving to the hospital and doing household repairs. “We all support each other, similar to a large family. We pinch hit for each other all the time. I don’t do it all by myself,” said Scalise.

Colleen McLaughin has raised her seven children with a sacrificial love. She firmly believes her experience as a foster parent has not only changed her life but also the lives of her biological children, as it has helped them learn compassion and empathy for disadvantaged populations. Her oldest daughter has been so greatly impacted by her foster and adoptive siblings that she spent one year as an intern at Casa de Esperanza. “We never felt like we were ‘equipped’ or ‘qualified’ to be foster or adoptive parents; we just knew we couldn’t deny the profound calling to share the love that consumed us each time we looked into their eyes,” shared McLaughin. “These children really taught us the rest. They are the heroes, the champions of their stories.”

Eileen Piette-Cryar

Eileen Piette-Cryar

Eileen Piette-Cryar began her involvement with Casa de Esperanza as a community volunteer. She served in one of the agency homes offering assistance to the house parent once a week for three hours per week. Piette-Cryar played games with the children, participated in crafts, birthdays and story-time, providing assistance wherever she was most needed. During her time as a volunteer, she fell in love with the children in Casa de Esperanza’s Residential Program and was so moved with compassion that she made the decision to open her home to children in crisis. While a foster parent, she cared for six children, and then she and her husband adopted two children. She is a full-time mother who acts as a support system for other adoptive mothers in the greater Fort Bend community. Piette-Cryar supports other mothers in Fort Bend by being a shoulder to cry on, offering constant emotional support, as well as being present during medical emergencies with special needs children.

“The needs of our children are basic,” shared Piette-Cryar. “They need to understand that when they’re hungry, they will be fed. They need to believe when they wake up, someone will be there. They need to know when they cry, someone will hold them. Our fears about fostering pale in comparison to the fears these children have without us fostering.”

The Fort Bend Program

Mary Scalise

Mary Scalise

Mary Scalise is not only a Casa Mom; she is Casa de Esperanza’s Fort Bend Coordinator.  She, too, began her work with Casa de Esperanza as a volunteer and has since become a dedicated part of the agency’s staff.  In her role as Fort Bend Program Coordinator, Scalise is responsible for providing support and coordinating services for families in the greater Fort Bend Community. As one family shared, “Mary walked us through some of the most difficult experiences we’ve faced as a family with our foster children. Her personal experience and compassion for serving others is evident in her willingness to go above and beyond for all of the families in our community.”

Often the Casa de Esperanza families can be found walking into church or shopping, sometimes with two baby carriers in hand and three or four children of different ages following them. The next Sunday or shopping trip, the family may have three different children in tow. The length of time required to foster a child may vary from one day to six months depending on the situation. A Casa de Esperanza family stands out as the children are often of different races. While people seeing Casa moms with different children in tow each week may wonder who the children are, Scalise has the perfect answer.  “We are a family.”

The Casa de Esperanza moms all have their stories. For example, the baby boy who came to the mom as a “failure to thrive” baby, which means he didn’t have the will to live. This mom made a decision that she couldn’t let him go, and today, she’s celebrating a thriving nine-year-old that brings her more joy than she ever imagined!

Casa children Connor and Chance.

Casa children Connor and Chance.

Casa de Esperanza Moms are available to speak to any organization or anyone who will listen about being a foster parent. Because of their outreach to community organizations such as the Rotary Club, Exchange Club, Sacred Heart Catholic Church, St. Laurence Catholic Church, First United Methodist Church and Calvary Episcopal School, many children have benefited from getting the care they so desperately need. Like our Casa de Esperanza Moms, many foster parents have gone a step further and adopted the children.

Casa siblings.

Casa siblings.

The Fort Bend County Program includes the generous support of many volunteers, foster families, adoptive families and community partners, but the need is great and more foster families are needed. “We always tell others you will get more than you give, and we stand as proof that you too can be a foster or adoptive parent,” said Scalise.  “We need you, but most of all, the children need your love. If you don’t have a crib, we can get you one. You don’t have a car seat?  No problem. The Casa de Esperanza team, moms, dads and children, will support you and provide the resources you need. We just ask for you to take a small life and make it whole with your love.”

“I believe that being a mother is about what you can give someone else. It’s not about what you get in return,” said McLaughin. This statement epitomizes the philosophy of the Richmond and Rosenberg area mothers who work tirelessly to provide the best possible care for their children. Every day mothers in our community are saving the lives of foster and adoptive children through their work with Casa de Esperanza, and because of their commitment of time, love, patience and sacrifice, they have forever changed our community.

To donate or learn more about volunteering, contact Casa de Esperanza at 713-529-0639 or visit their office located at 500 Austin Street in Richmond.


Casa de Esperanza Providing Hope for Children

A Casa de Esperanza Mom rocks a newborn in his new home.

A Casa de Esperanza Mom rocks a newborn in his new home.

Casa de Esperanza currently has 68 adoptive families with 133 adopted children in Fort Bend County. This number continues to grow as the agency actively works to expand its Volunteer Community Foster Care Program. In 2013 alone, Casa de Esperanza provided 3,594 days of residential care to children in Fort Bend County. Children are admitted to Casa de Esperanza from Fort Bend, Harris and surrounding counties.

Of the children in care, 76% have a history of Children’s Protective Service (CPS) involvement, but only 20% are in CPS custody at the time of admission. The children’s ages ranged from newborn to eight-years-old, and 100% of the children came from families with a history of domestic violence. Many of these children were homeless at the time of admission, had been exposed to drugs and alcohol and demonstrated developmental delays.

While in Casa de Esperanza’s care, each child received developmental evaluations and was screened for occupational, speech and physical therapy. Casa de Esperanza does not charge for any services and does not accept government funding. Its services are dependent on funding from the private sector of the communities served by the agency.

To learn more about how you can help the children of Casa de Esperanza, call 713-529-0639.