Residence of Life was founded by Cherie McCullah in December of 2012 in a little teal home nestled in the mountains of Atenas, Costa Rica. Casa Casey, as house 1 is named, was home to six small children who had come from the nearby orphanage, Hogar de Vida.
In 2014, Cherie and the six kids moved to Grecia, Costa Rica where it remains to this day. More staff joined the team and spaces were opened up, finally filling the home with ten kids in 2016. Two years later, in January of 2018, Residence of Life celebrated the opening of the second home, Casa Timoteo, for teenage girls! Sadly, that same week, Cherie was diagnosed with cancer and a little over a year later lost her battle with the disease. Although it was a dark chapter in the history of Residence of Life, God sustained the ministry and with the full support of child services and our partners, the vision remains.
Residence of Life is currently licensed to provide permanent housing for twenty boys and girls between the ages of 2 and 18. Seventy-five percent of our children have been permanently separated from their families because of severe neglect, abandonment and abuse, while only a quarter of the children are true orphans. What may surprise many is the fact that half of the children are Costa Rican: the rest come from the nearby countries of Nicaragua and El Salvador!
While our hope and prayer is for each of our children to find a forever family, we know that they might not. For that reason, we strive to provide a loving, Christ-centered family environment where they will be nurtured to a sense of belonging. We believe that true healing can only be found in Jesus and we model that for our kids on a day to day basis, as well as provide counseling, so that they can break the chains of poverty and addiction in their own lives.
Residence of Life not only cares for the kids right now, but we are also developing a program that the children can enter into after they turn 18 if they wish to remain with us. This program will provide housing for our teens and will allow us to walk beside them and continue molding them into responsible adults with a successful future doing what they love and what God created them to do! We are committed to their success whether that means helping to send them to university or teaching them a trade.
No matter if the kids are with us for a few months, years or remain with us until they are 18 and beyond, our prayer is that they know they always have a family at Residence of Life.
In addition to our board in the States, our Costa Rican board, and our administration (pictured below), we have a highly equipped team of professionals, ranging from psychologists, social workers, medical staff and tias or “aunties” that care for our kids on a daily basis.
Cherie McCullah, Founder 10/21/56-3/7/19
While still in her early twenties, Cherie had a dream that she would one day start an orphanage that would be home to 100 latin children. From that day on, the Missouri native dedicated her life to learning all she could, earning degrees in early childhood education, spanish and social studies. For decades, Cherie worked with children both in the United States and around the world, never wavering from the dream God had given her. She moved to Costa Rica in 2008 and founded Residence of Life four years later. She passed away after a year long battle with cancer in March of 2019. Residence of Life will forever remember her for her boldness, courage and sacrifice in paving the way for this ministry that has changed, and will continue to change, the lives of so many children.
Erika Rodriguez, President
A Florida native, outdoor lover and graphic designer, Erika has served at Residence of Life since 2016. She was living in the nearby beach town of Jaco when she heard of Cherie and came to meet her with the intention of volunteering once a week. God had other plans and she moved to Grecia just two quick weeks later, began to learn Spanish and has since served as house mom, director and, in July of 2018, took over the presidency at the team’s and Cherie’s request. Prior to moving to Costa Rica, Erika spent two years directing a hospital outreach ministry to the people living in the jungles of Papua New Guinea and before that led missions trips and medical outreaches around the world for over a decade.
Ericka Peters Quesada, Vice President
Ericka, a Jesus and coffee lover, is also a Florida native. But she hails from northern Florida and her soft southern drawl gives her away. Ericka served in orphanages in both Haiti and Nicaragua as the director, before coming to Residence of Life in January of 2015. There, she met her husband, our psychologist Victor who, during the early years, had done much of the groundbreaking work for Residence of Life. The pair married in January of 2017. Throughout her years at Residence of Life, Ericka has served as house mom, director and Vice President and brings so much wisdom to the team. In her spare time, she loves teaching English in her home and online.
Marjorie Zuñiga Cano, Director
Marjorie is from Costa Rica, although due to her perfect English, you may never know. During her teens, Marjorie lived in New York and has traveled extensively in the United States. For more than a decade, Marjorie served in many managerial capacities at Pura Vida Missions in San Ramon and has studied Biblical counseling. There, she met her husband Tyler, who is from Washington and they married in 2014. She serves with a passion and has been a blessing to the Residence of Life team since the fall of 2017. Marjorie is often the bridge between the two cultures at Residence of Life and we’re so grateful she’s a part of the team.
Johana Navarrete Mendoza, Administrator
The newest member of our leadership team, Johana, is from Nicaragua. She has extensive administration experience and has already taught us a thing or two. For years, she worked in finances and human resources at El Lagar which is the Costa Rica equivalent of Home Depot. She loves Jesus, children and serves in her church as a Sunday school teacher. We’re thankful God led her to Residence of Life and she’s equally excited for the opportunity to work with our kids and staff.