Today we profile Daena Padilla who, along with her husband Eduardo, runs Casa San Salvador, our office and hospitality house in Washington DC. They actually met while volunteering with the Claretians in Chicago, and in September they are expecting a baby girl.

As house managers, Daena and Eduardo welcome our guests and keep the house clean and yard beautiful. When we have long-term guests and missioners in formation, the couple runs house meetings to coordinate chores and foster a sense of community.

“Since joining the FMS family, I’ve been both blessed and challenged on a daily basis,” Daena said. “Living in community does that to a person. It’s helped me grow and learn about myself, step out of my comfort zone and expand my horizons, without ever leaving home!”

While Daena’s weekend and evening role is as house manager, her day job is as an architect. She volunteers with Architecture in the Schools for ten weeks, twice a year, in order to bring to bring architecture to elementary-aged school kids and reinforce what they’re learning in other subject areas.

When asked why she volunteers, Danea responded, “As St. Francis says, ‘For it is in giving, that we receive,’ and I’ve found what I receive to often be ten-fold.”

Together, Daena and Eduardo work with a program called Rebuilding Together, whose mission is to provide critical repairs to low-income homeowners, making them safe, warm and dry. The couple also prepares and serves food to the homeless in Lafayette and McPherson Squares with a group about once a month.

“Volunteering often serves as my reality check and keeps me grounded,” Daena said.

Since 2005, Daena and Eduardo traveled annually to Guatemala and El Salvador fro 10 to 14 days with a group of friends organized by Jack McHale, who happens to be on the FMS board, and Fr. Tom Moran, CMF, a Claretian missionary who recently passed away. The trip’s focus is not on doing things, but being with the people: sitting and having a meal with them and listening to their stories.

“Over the years,” Daena said, “We’ve built relationships with many of the people both in the main towns we spend our time in as well as in the smaller rural villages we go to visit.”

Honor Daena’s commitment to volunteering by making a donation to Franciscan Mission Service.