“We were both pretty surprised,” Carmelo added. “She was beautiful; her baby was beautiful. She’d absolutely turned her life around.”
Eleven years later, Rosa still keeps in touch (she’s one of the many who do). She’s continued to stay off drugs and now works as a nurse’s aid. She and her daughter live in a house Rosa bought in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
Carmelo’s own story isn’t much different from Rosa’s.
“I myself was a drug addict,” he said. “I tried many, many drugs, but I was addicted mostly to heroin and alcohol.”
One night, Carmelo recalled, he was out on the streets of NYC, talking to a minister named Reverend Rosa, himself a former drug addict.
“I told him I was a werewolf and that I needed a silver bullet to put me out of my misery,” Carmelo explained. “I needed a way out. He told me he had the silver bullet I needed; his name is Jesus Christ.”
Reverend Rosa eventually talked Carmelo into going to the “hospital” with him, which, in actuality, was a rehab clinic. Carmelo spent three days in there and came out “transformed by the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
“The power of Christ saved me,” he said. “And after he delivered me from drugs, Christ gave me a desire to help other addicts.”
That was 30 years gone, and neither he nor Emily has looked back.
Now, as they transition to a new community, the couple said “nothing would make us happier” than to someday be blessed to have a “Rosa” or a “Carmelo-like” story to tell from their time in Greensburg.
Carole Burr, councilor with New Directions, sees that as a distinct possibility.
“I’ve met them both,” she said of the Velezes. “I think they’re absolutely fantastic. They’ve absolutely embraced us here at New Directions, and they’re willing to do anything to help.”
For now, the Velezes are preparing to leave for Oklahoma City as part of First Christian Church’s Oklahoma Tornado Relief Caravan. That trip departs from the church July 7.
“This community is just blessed to have them,” Burr added. “I can’t wait to see how active they become here. I expect they’ll do great things.”
Contact: Rob Cox 812-663-3111 x7011