Mental health counselor and pastor Carmen Vega, who was born and raised in Lawrence, has been appointed executive director of Lazarus House Ministries, a faith-based organization that provides food, shelter, and guidance to families and individuals in need.
“I am thrilled and ready to take on this challenge,” Vega says. “I look forward to working with the board, our dedicated team of directors, and the staff team I already love and trust to continue to meet our guests’ changing needs now and in the future.”
Vega describes herself as “a Lawrencian through-and-through.” She was raised in the Hancock Housing Projects by a single mother who lost her job due to inadequate child care. Vega attended middle and high school in Lawrence, then went on to earn a bachelor’s degree at Mount Washington College in New Hampshire and a masters in education from Boston’s Cambridge College. She received her licensure as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and settled in her beloved Lawrence with her husband and children.
Her experiences growing up in Lawrence have given her an open-minded empathy for the clients at Lazarus House.
“We are all only one life event away from homelessness or food insecurity,” Vega says. “We don’t judge. We welcome, we love, and we support.”
Vega began her work at Lazarus House in 2018, serving most recently as program director of Capernaum Place, the organization’s transitional housing facility. She was also an integral part of the strategic planning team that developed the three-year strategic plan she will carry out in her new role.
“We are thrilled that Carmen has accepted the call to continue her service and leadership at Lazarus House Ministries as executive director,” says Rick Crowley, president of the Lazarus House board. “Her most recent thoughtful response and action plan to navigate the COVID crisis at the shelter and within the ministry showed her ability to quickly address and adapt as things were rapidly changing – always with our guests at the forefront.
Vega is an associate pastor at MAJES Worship Center in Lawrence and has been leading the worship team for over a decade. She has also worked in the Lawrence Public School System and still works at Family Services of the Merrimack Valley helping counsel young moms and dads.
“She has been invaluable to the advocacy team and we are here to support her in this new role, leading the ministry with heart, faith, and experience,” says Almarie Silverman, Director of Advocacy. “Carmen understands the intricacies of navigating government services for our guests. Carmen comes to us with a ‘knowing’ that is profound. From her personal history, to proven work ethic and compassion and understanding our guests, and extensive human services experience, Carmen has carved a niche for this role that I believe no one else could fill.”