Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN


July 2, 2013

Senior Stars: Carmelo and Emily Velez


“We paid her $5 for five minutes,” Carmelo said, explaining that $5 was the going rate in NYC at the time for a hit of crack cocaine. “We paid her three or four times like that, and she’d come over to the car, hunch down, and talk to us.”

He continued, “We talked to her about transformation and changing her life and about the power of Christ’s love.”

The last five-minute session with Rosa would ultimately transform the young woman’s life.

“She finally agreed to let us help her,” Carmelo said. “We took her to a friend’s house overnight, and the next day, we sent her off to a program in Pennsylvania called New Life for Girls. That was one of many such programs we partnered with.”

Emily still remembers the night before shipping Rosa off.

“We stayed up all night with her,” she said. “We had to. We wanted to help her, but she was a junkie. You can’t trust a drug addict. We wanted to make sure she didn’t run off or steal anything.”

She didn’t.

In fact, several months later, a mysterious visitor came to see Bishop Carmelo at the First United Methodist Church of Queens, where he served as co-pastor at the time.

“Emily saw her first,” Carmelo explained. “When I came in, I didn’t recognize her – not at all. Then Emily said, ‘One of your spiritual daughters is her to see you,’ and that’s when I knew. I couldn’t believe the change in this young woman. She was absolutely transformed. She was beautiful.”

Rosa’s transformation wasn’t the only surprise she brought; she also had a baby with her.

“We were shocked,” Emily recalled. “We didn’t know she was pregnant when we sent her off.”

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