SA Hope Center — new name, new ventures, yet consistent commitment to ChristBookmark this
She was at the end of her rope. Born into generational poverty and suffering from its consequences, it only took one bad relationship with her boyfriend to land her on the streets. She was running out of hope and considering suicide. We have all made bad choices. However, the consequences for most of us are not nearly this staggering. Thank goodness God provided help for her.
The SA Hope Center stepped in and offered her a lifeline. The young woman had stumbled into their first satellite office in the basement of First Presbyterian Church. Their case manager, Janiece Cantu, befriended her, helped her obtain identification, a shower, clean clothes and, soon after, safe shelter and a new job.
This story is just one of the hundreds coming from people whose lives have been changed by the presence of the SA Hope Center, formerly Christian Hope Resource Center (CHRC), whose flagship location opened in the 1980s. Around 2001, CHRC moved to the Westside. In 2005, CHRC opened its doors at 321 N. General McMullen Drive.
The ministry formally changed its name to SA Hope Center this October.
SA Hope Center’s beginnings were as a benevolence ministry of Oak Hills Church. Its 78207 zip code has earned the reputation as one of the poorest areas in the nation, with a poverty level hovering at 42 percent. Counselors and case managers at the SA Hope Center stabilize families first with food and connections to childcare, housing and transportation. Then they transition them to sustainable, holistic stability by teaching workforce development, financial literacy and parenting skills, among many other things. For the past four years, they’ve seen 800-1000 people monthly, loving them into wellness of mind, body and spirit, says Executive Director Megan Legacy. “We also provide senior services and pastoral counseling,” adds Megan.
The faith-based, Christ-centered ministry provides a relationship and safety net in time of crisis. SA Hope Center (formerly CHRC) became a nonprofit in 2001 and in 2014 implemented a more successful program model to address the root causes of poverty. Since then, they have been hiring more staff to serve more families.
The center now employs 20 staff members. They bring on 30 master’s level social work interns annually. This includes three intern site supervisors, dozens of volunteers and a counseling pastor. However, those they helped kept referring to them as The Hope Center. There was a branding problem.
“Families have been calling us the ‘Hope Center’ for years,” Megan says. “The acronym CHRC was very confusing to the community, especially as we expand to new sites in San Antonio. People ask if we are a cancer center or a research center. And frankly, some residents are afraid to walk through the doors if they don’t embrace our Christian faith. The new name more accurately reflects the mission of the SA Hope Center but in no way abandons our dedication to love and serve people in the name of Jesus Christ,” Megan emphasizes.
On October 25, the ministry will host a “Better Together” fundraising luncheon at the Vista at Valero to officially announce their name change and showcase God’s blessings — the new locations and greater momentum.
“We are still faith based. We share the gospel through stabilizing families and loving them well and then warmly inviting them into a relationship with Christ,” she says. “There is no such thing as hope without Jesus. We just believe we’ll be able to reach more people and have a deeper impact for the kingdom of Christ with a streamlined name.”
Additionally, SA Hope Center stands on the threshold of several new collaborative ventures, providing services in five locations. For the first time, SA Hope Center will partner with Ogden Academy to support the family engagement staff there.
Ogden Academy, which is in the San Antonio Independent School District, was identified as one falling below critical performance standards. Many of the problems can be attributed to trauma in the home, Megan says.
“I am so excited to expand our family strengthening programs inside of a school,” she adds, pointing out that when families are in crisis, perhaps homeless, or without food, it is unrealistic to expect academic performance.
Staff Case Manager Carla Castro offices at Ogden to engage personally with families of its 800 students. The former intern with SA Hope Center will help them obtain employment, increase literacy and teach parenting classes. And if families need help navigating the many crisis situations poverty brings, the main campus is just down the street. There they can get help with things like a food assistance or classes for grandparents who are parenting.
Another project that has been launched this year collaborates with Restore Education — a tutoring and testing program serving adults pursuing a General Education Diploma
(GED) test or job-skills certification. Restore Education and SA Hope Center together were awarded a five-year United Way grant to add a full-time social worker to the facility’s Monte Vista location and bring a full-time GED instructor to the SA Hope Center’s main location.
These older adult students are highly motivated to complete their program, but they drop out because of a family crisis, Megan says. That’s where SA Hope Center will act. The case manager will wrap services around the students to make sure they are stable and enable them to continue.
“If we can come in, offer support and deal with the crisis, we can get them to a level stability conclusive to finishing a GED program,” Megan says.
Removing roadblocks to allow people access to the resources they need is a hallmark of SA Hope Center.
Megan recalls an instance where a local college contacted her because a bright, promising student on full scholarship had withdrawn from school. He lived with his disabled mother, who was confined to a wheelchair. It was freezing cold that day just prior to Christmas, she remembers, and the family’s trailer had no electricity or running water. SA Hope Center stepped in. They got the utilities turned back on, provided emergency food and helped the mother with her disability application. Not only was her once-denied claim accepted, she was able to brush up her skills and land a part-time job. The support changed the trajectory of the family’s life. The son was able to stay in school to improve his prospects for a better career. The mother could provide for their physical needs and was no longer socially isolated at home.
Another SA Hope Center venture connects Restore Education, the SA Hope Center and the Good Samaritan Community Services with resources at the Good Samaritan center through a grant from the local Genevieve and Ward Orsinger Foundation. This program also removes obstacles for adults working to advance their education. The collaboration includes free, high quality, on-site childcare and parenting classes for low income families along with financial literacy, GED classes and job training.
“The trend is to capitalize on collaborative programs that holistically care for families,” Megan says. “We can’t just provide youth services when parents aren’t doing well, and we can’t help parents and not their kids.”
SA Hope Center is the light at the end of the tunnel for families who feel invisible and don’t know where to turn. There are many reasons families may present in crisis.
Like most nonprofits, SA Hope is funded by generous donors. On October 25, the ministry will host a “Better Together” fundraising luncheon at the Vista at Valero to officially announce their name change and showcase God’s blessings — the new locations and greater momentum. You can make a difference as you join SA Hope Center in their mission to: “Love people well by empowering them to meet their own needs.”
SA Hope Center
321 N General McMullen Drive | San Antonio, TX 78237
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Share. Schedule a group for a tour or lunch and learn. Give. Donor dollars directly impact the number who can be served. Volunteer. Help in the food pantry or teach a class. Follow. Learn about events on social media. Pray. Pray for the ministry to continue to reflect the heart of God.