Changing 78207: One Life, One Family at a Time
Within the boundaries of San Antonio, Texas lies one of the poorest areas in the Nation. It was featured as the Westside zip code 78207 fifty years ago in a CBS News Documentary, “Hunger in America.”
A San Antonio Express-News editorial (March 2016) later described the area as “half of adults without a high school diploma, 60 percent without jobs, income below the median level and a poverty rate of 42 percent”. Generations have passed, and it’s hard to say that life in the 78207-zip code is demonstrably better than when ‘Hunger in America’ was released. But things are changing.
Idar, a single mom raising a 14-year-old daughter with serious health issues, was missing countless work days to take her child to the hospital with crippling epileptic seizures as well as continuing bedside care at home. This resulted in countless job losses bringing in little income, near zero savings and sleepless nights – she was running out of resources and hope.
Then one cold winter’s day, Idar walked through the doors of the San Antonio Christian Hope Resource Center (CHRC). There she found help from a strong support system and mentorship program. Idar’s life and hope began to be restored – for the dream she wanted to achieve – making a better family life.
"We believe that we have a biblical and corporate responsibility to give back to our community and support great non-profits like CHRC. The love and compassion that the staff of CHRC provides to those that are hurting is incredible to see. There are many in our community that simply need some love, a hand-up and encouragement in their life journey. We are proud to be associated with CHRC as they deliver that and so much more every single day. Thank you CHRC! Keep up the great work you are doing in our city. Our hearts have been touched and we stand arm in arm with you."
Bruce Barnard, President/CEO,
CHRC is a faith-based social service agency founded in the 1980’s as a benevolence ministry of Oak Hills Church. It was formed and implemented by generous volunteers who wanted to lovingly respond to the needs of the poor. CHRC became a non-profit in 2001.
The Center uses evidence-based solutions to address the most troubling social problems of our time. Its programs include: Food Insecurity, Parenting, Education and Training, Community Health, Financial Literacy and Senior Services. These programs are set apart by a mentorship that is designed to provide clients with reliable, long-term support systems. The faith-based environment cares for the spiritual needs of each person and family.
“The same day she walked in our doors, Idar went through an evidence-based, stepwise process that all new CHRC clients go through,” Executive Director, Megan Legacy stated. “First, there is a comprehensive need assessment, and then the development of a personalized intervention plan, and finally the plan is set into motion for up to 12 months, under the close supervision of a multidisciplinary team.”
Ms. Legacy became the Executive Director in 2012 when someone on the board strongly felt she should apply for the position. Ms. Legacy remembers, “After much prayer, I felt God calling me to the interview and later, to accept the position. This has been a testimony of the power and blessing of listening to God’s Will.”
Under Ms. Legacy’s leadership, 500 recurring families are served every month, with a budget that has increased from less than a quarter of a million to over a million in five short years. The majority of clients come from the 78207-zip code.
“We focus on holistically helping our families become sustainable.”
“We serve families in mentoring programs. They come every month. Our programs are not a one-time service. People are deeply engaged. They take classes and receive mentoring on average from six to eighteen months,” Ms. Legacy continues. “We focus on holistically helping our families become sustainable. This is through teaching financial literacy to all of our clients, helping address mental health needs, improving health by connecting families with health care, teaching about healthy eating and living, nutrition, etc. Many others are engaged in our job training programs and are focused on obtaining living wage employment. Seniors typically focus on quality of life, which includes financial literacy, health and other aspects, like ensuring they have heating in the winter and cool air in the summer.”
When asked about a recent accomplishment for the Christian Hope Resource Center, Ms. Legacy directed attention to the CHRC’s new building sponsored by Mueller’s Helping Hand and the Texas Country Reporter which “every year teams up to find a deserving non-profit organization in Texas to receive a free Mueller building.” (www.muellerinc.com/whats-new/helping-hand)
Ms. Legacy stated, “I think so often in the world that we live in we usually give to people that are struggling what is left over. We had these buildings a long time (5 portables the Mueller Building replaced), but they were used buildings. And for a long time, a lot of love happened in those buildings and a lot of classes, but they were hand me downs, but this – this is a gift.”
With the help of their new building, the Christian Hope Resource Center can expand forward in their goal to continue helping families find pathways out of poverty. Partnering with more churches and increasing collaborations with like-minded non-profit organizations will also expedite this. Completing the construction of this new education center increases these much-needed services with more nonprofits on site.
"The pain and struggle for many in our city is real and the needs can seem overwhelming. Building a process that delivers practical help and especially hope is no easy task. When you find a non-profit like CHRC, it is easy to be moved to help. The smiles on the faces of the parents and their children (like Idar and her daughter) speak volumes to the big difference CHRC is making in our community. I hope you will join with us in supporting this vital ministry. I have seen firsthand, that together, we really can make a difference."
B Scott Barnard,
CHRC desires to connect with the entire body of Christ in San Antonio. In doing so, they will be able to draw from a greater pool of volunteers and sponsors. “There are so many areas in our ministry for churches to plug into. Opportunities to impact youth, seniors, and use skilled volunteers, etc.” Ms. Legacy continued. “This will be able to help more people like Idar.”
In Idar’s case, immediate needs for food were met and steps were taken to ensure that she did not miss her rent. Idar enrolled into a CHRC support group and attended crisis management sessions. She was assigned a mentor and introduced to the Center’s Pastoral Counselor. A year later, Idar has turned a corner and her daughter is doing much better. She has been able to find and keep a full-time job.
“More importantly,” Megan Legacy added, “Idar acquired a militant belief in the redemptive power of the Word and has accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior.”
Be A Light.
Share. Get the word out to your Pastor about opportunities for partnership. Give. Become a monthly donor. Volunteer. Contact us to learn about volunteer opportunities. See below for contact info to donate or volunteer. Pray. Pray for us! You can learn more by visiting: www.sachrc.org/
About the Author: Dana Michea Marquez enjoys spending time with her two intelligent boys and husband. She is also mom to two dogs, Lola and Easter. Ms. Marquez likes to write about community awareness such as Human Trafficking and other social issues that affect San Antonio. She also has a small marketing and event planning business called New Wavez Vizion. Ms. Marquez currently attends Victory Outreach of San Antonio with her family. Ms. Marquez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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