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Tell It Like It Is

Can Faith Based Charities Do It Better?

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Thomas Segel is responsible for this content, which is not edited by the Wilson County News or

Tell It Like It Is
February 10, 2011 | 1,676 views | Post a comment

Harlingen, Texas, February 10, 2011: It takes very little examination to understand the world we live in is a place of contrasts. The United States of America is viewed as a land of abundant riches, while much of the planet struggles to obtain the necessities of life. Unless those making such observations lived along the United States-Mexico border they would find it difficult to believe such marked contrasts in quality of life are also common in this land of plenty.

For example Las Milpas is a rural community of an estimated 15,000 people located just three miles from the Texas-Mexico border. It is only five miles south of Pharr, and near such cities as San Juan, Alamo and McAllen in Deep South Texas.

All of those municipalities can display a population ranging from abundant wealth to the humblest of existences. La Milpas, however, casts a shadow over the entire region. Its residents live in abject poverty.

A few miles further south and a short distance from Weslaco, Texas another rural community called Progresso is the home of more disadvantaged people. Nestled up close to Mexico, less than one mile from the border, Progreso joins Los Milpas in economic isolation. The poverty of these communities is compounded by a lack of public transportation, a migratory lifestyle, double-digit unemployment and a lack of basic education and language skills. For many in these communities whose legal residency may be in question, there is also a wariness of approaching governmental organizations to seek any form of assistance.

Though these small communities have existed for decades, they have been virtually ignored by the multitude of government agencies and programs designed specifically for the underemployed, the disadvantaged and those who have been bypassed in the nation’s march to equality.

Enter the Christian outreach ministry. Su Casa de Esperanza or “Your House of Hope”, a small charitable outreach organization affiliated with Mission Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (USA) has attempted to impact the spiritual, physical, intellectual, emotional and social needs of the people residing in both Los Milpas and Progresso for the past 30 years. In 1991 it became incorporated as a 501 c 3 charitable organization, which allowed it to seek tax-deductible gifts.

A volunteer staff places special emphasis on early childhood development and on family life education. Self-help is the cornerstone of every Su Case de Esperanza program. They make weekly home visits for infants up to nine months of age to teach families how to support proper growth and development. The volunteers offer twice weekly classes for toddlers and mothers including the introduction of the English language to those toddlers in attendance.

Volunteers also conduct after-school programs that teach manners to children, stress discipline and incorporate the Bible into classes. Bi-cultural values are addressed, as are recreation activities, arts, crafts and music. Tutoring is available for the children and there is strong emphasis on the prevention of crime, violence and drug abuse.

Su Casa de Esperanza does not forget the parents of these children also have some serious unmet needs. The volunteers provide instruction to expectant mothers. They offer classes in proactive infant development and offer programs that lead to enhancing self-esteem and emotional stability. Most important of the volunteer objectives is to teach these parents the principles of nutrition and good health.

Explaining that education is the key to moving out of poverty, these volunteer teachers encourage high school completion, promote vocational and college education, teach bi-cultural values, English and Spanish literacy and emphasize the development of employability skills. All of these acts are labors of love funded through the generosity of individuals, churches and occasional foundation support.

With the dream of generating some significant support Su Casa de Esperanza is hosting its 30th Anniversary Celebration with a special dinner and program to be held March 3, 2011 at the McAllen, Texas Country Club.

Those wishing to attend, or participate in some manner are invited to contact Executive Director Lucy Fernandez at (956) 781 0276 or by email at All are invited to join in this Dinner for Hope as Su Casa de Esperanza continues its mission of helping families regain hope for the future.

In a time of national crisis, when billions of dollars are about to be slashed from a wide range of government programs, faith based charities such as Su Casa de Esperanza keep laboring to help the poor and underserved. They have never depended upon the government to enhance their mission, just as the people they serve have never had any faith in government programs. Are the faith-based charities doing a better job of helping those in need? The answer to that is debatable, but one thing is certain, missions such as Su Casa de Esperanza will still be there when the government programs have vanished.

Semper Fidelis
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