El Buen Samaritano Provides Working-Poor a Hand Up, Not a Hand Out
The philosophy behind El Buen Samaritano Episcopal Mission in Austin, Texas, is simple: engage the strength of families in need so they can transform their lives for the better. Since 1987, El Buen has helped working-poor Hispanic families become catalysts for change in their own communities. It accomplishes this goal by providing an intricate web of integrated services, including health care, emergency food, advocacy, leadership, development and basic education.
All of El Buen Samaritano’s programs are conveniently located around a courtyard on a single, 11-acre campus. Constructed in 2003, the campus is situated in a stable but economically disadvantaged neighborhood on the south side of Austin. This location makes it easy for many of Austin’s newest residents to access all the resources they need to successfully participate in society.
El Buen’s two most prominent programs are the medical clinic for the uninsured and the emergency food pantry. These two programs serve as portal gateways to a variety of other services that families are typically not aware of when they first arrive at El Buen.
For example when a working mother comes in for her health care, she may discover that El Buen also offers daycare in a child-learning center based on the Head Start program. Then she might decide to return to take an exercise class while her kids do calisthenics. Next, her husband might enroll in a course to complete his high school education. At El Buen, it’s all about connecting the dots and helping families in a holistic manner.
Investing Early in Children’s Health
While celebrating its 20-year anniversary last year, El Buen continued to work toward their goal to increase its operating budget in order to take full advantage of the larger physical space now at its disposal since relocating in 2003. With help from supporters such as the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, El Buen has achieved significant increases in patient visits, including pediatric, social work and immunization care. El Buen is now registering more than 123 new patients each month and is servicing over 90 prenatal-care visits in an average month.
El Buen has gained national recognition as an early innovator in providing care focused on family health and, in particular, the health and wellness of children.
Key Area of Focus: Fighting Childhood Obesity
El Buen is now focusing much of its attention and resources on fighting obesity, with a special emphasis on improving the health and nutrition of Hispanic children. Through a program called Vida Y Salud (“Life and Good Health”), El Buen offers community outreach and innovative classes in nutritional cooking, exercise, fitness, mental health, parenting and family relationships.
With the Vida Y Salud program, El Buen’s goal is to get kids started early and to fight obesity by helping them understand what it takes to maintain a healthy body. The program strives to make it comfortable for families to break through barriers and get engaged in improving their health.
El Buen’s growth and expansion are made possible through program innovations which allow it to continue to assist working-poor Hispanic families in transforming their futures by gaining self-sufficiency and leading healthier, more productive lives. El Buen is on track to meet its goal of reaching 11,000 health care visits per year. And, monthly clinic visits continue to increase in the areas of pediatric visits, social work visits and immunization visits. Recent clinic expansion included adding a bilingual family nurse practitioner, nurse and medical assistant and expanding their service hours in order to meet the needs of patients. For more information, visit www.elbuen.org.