Mary - Founder
Welcome to our web site, my name is Mary Silveria. I am from the central coast, Watsonville, Santa Cruz area. Before I retired I spent 20 years as a reserve Fire Fighter with the Watsonville Fire Department. My real job was a Heavy Equipment Mechanic and Fabricator; there aren't many women in my field. From there I went to operating heavy equipment and driving trucks.
There was a huge void in my life, but through the grace of God, He filled that void. The involvement in my church was a huge impact on the birth of the Skill Center. My first mission trip was to Romania; we served at an orphanage on a dairy farm. It was different and I liked the concept of teaching the children how to farm. The orphanage also taught the young girls to cook and sew and different life skills. I felt then that God was doing something, but I had no idea what was in store.
When we came home I continued to serve in local ministries and at Kids Camp. Our Pastor began to talk about Family mission trips, and serving closer to home. Our church was supporting an orphanage in Baja California, but we had never been there. So in 2002 we started going down to Door of Faith Orphanage as a team to serve the orphanage, the local community, and surrounding areas. When my Pastor asked me what my gifts and talents were, I told him vehicle maintenance and welding. Soon I found myself working on the buses and vehicles at the orphanage.
I look back now and have to laugh at all the crazy experiences and trials I went through. Culture shock! It took a lot of adjusting for them to get used to me while I was also trying to respect their culture. Ladies just did not work under cars and trucks, let alone weld. As the years went by, people here in La Mision were getting used to me. When they knew I was here, they would come and ask if I had time to help them fix something that was broken.
In 2007, I taught a mechanic's class for some of the older kids in the orphanage. It was a huge success. After class I was walking back to the campground, and a man stopped me and asked if I had a few minutes to talk with him. I found someone who could translate for me. He began by thanking me for coming down and teaching the young people and sharing with them. The older man said that there were three young boys from the community at the entrance of the orphanage who wanted to come in and be a part of the class. Somewhere they heard about the class and wanted to be a part of it. But because of safety rules, the public can't come in. Another man told how the moms worry about their children as they start to grow up. I couldn't help but think about this.
After coming home from the trip, I was still thinking about everything that took place that week. I shared with my pastor and a few close friends about building a skill center and teaching entry level classes. I was able to cash in all my life savings and purchase a piece of property; we started building the skill center in 2009. Today we are 75% done. There's still a lot of work to do, but we now have English, music, sewing, and cooking classes. This fall I am working hard on getting our welding class started. Little by little we are growing in the community.