Here I lived. Almost. About 40 miles north. In Abiquiu. Where Georgia O’Keeffe visited in the 1920s. Captivated by the rawest of beauty, she never returned to NYC.

In March, I saw a piece in my local paper, The LA Times. Written and photographed by Pulitzer finalists. Why, I thought, is the LA Times writing about Española — a dusty “city” of 10,000, thirty minutes south of Santa Fe? New Mexico?

Then I read it.

Francine Orr, Los Angles Times, 2023, Española Pathways Shelter

I decided to drive south — meet those gritty souls sacrificing to save a city ransacked for decades with generational trauma and infamous for its drug culture.

My heart is there now. I go back and forth. Hop from Orange County to Española.

I work with the shelter. And the schools. The teens. The ones who look into my eyes with disbelief. “Why would you want to come work HERE?”

“It’s a hobo town.”

“Because I want to. You inspire me to be a better person.”

I don’t wear my faith on my sleeve. A couple of times, they’ve asked.

“Are you religious?”

“No, but I follow Jesus.”

Week by week, transformation. I see it— glimmers of hope, recovery, healing.

Far from finished is the story of Española.