It might sound like the Velezes have settled in Greensburg to retire, but they deny such plans.
“We haven’t been here long,” Emily said, “but our goal is to get involved in the community, and to continue ministering.”
To that end, the Valezes have already met with Mayor Gary Herbert and with Greensburg Police Chief Stacy Chasteen. They also regularly visit with Diane Moore, executive director at Greensburg’s New Directions Domestic Abuse Services Center.
Moore welcomed the Valez’s involvement in the community and with New Directions, telling the Daily News that their experience is both extensive and impressive.
The couple still isn’t finished with their church back in NYC, either.
“I’m going back there in three months,” Carmelo said. “We’re still pastoring there, but we’ve ordained members of the congregation to serve as deacons and elders. We’ve ordained another member to serve as interim pastor. The goal is to eventually turn the church over to them.”
The couple understands that their impact in an area of Decatur County’s size will be far less reaching.
“If we make a difference in one life,” Emily said, “we’ll be making a difference for the entire community.”
Although the Valezes have helped countless people over the years, a handful of the stories stick out in their memories.
One of those, Carmelo said, is the story of a young prostitute who was addicted to heroin and crack cocaine.
“Her name was Rosa,” he said. “She was so greasy and terrible looking, they called her ‘Rosa Pork Chop.’ She was the lowest of the low in that area.”
The Valezes saw potential in the woman though, and decided to reach out. It wasn’t easy. In fact, the only way to procure any of Rosa’s time was to pay for it.