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SAMM Ministries Celebrates 30 Years Of Serving Homeless & Struggling Families

Eileen Pace
TPR News

On Thursday SAMM Ministries celebrated its 30th year of serving San Antonio families who need a little help to get back on their feet.

The ministry also announced a major fundraising campaign. The new Help, Hope and Home fundraising campaign seeks to raise $8 million dollars over three years.

According to SAMM CEO Navarra Williams, children are the most severely impacted by homelessness.

"Homeless children are twice as likely to be hungry, develop a laundry list of illnesses, and get behind in school and reading skills," he said.

Williams said he was disabused early on in the notion of who becomes homeless, and that for families, it's a catastrophic event.  

That was the case for Angelina Garcia, who unexpectedly became a single parent during her first year of law school.

"He (her husband) said I needed to find a place to live. I didn't have a place," she said. 

A fellow law student -- who also had gone through homelessness  --  recommended the SAMM program. 

"My daughter and I had a place to stay within two weeks. We stayed in the program a little over two years," Garcia said. 

She said once she got past the resistance to accept help, she learned good life skills from SAMM’s program. She graduated law school, passed the bar exam and started practicing family law.

"They see potential, they see drive and determination in people," Garcia said. "And I am not the sum total of the decisions or the circumstances that I came from. I am so much more than that, and they saw that and were willing to help me achieve that."

Since SAMM Ministries began providing prevention services, it has helped nearly 15,000 individuals. Williams said preventing a family from losing its home costs $700, and if a family become homeless, the cost to help them increases to $19,500 per household.

Over the last year, SAMM Ministries has helped 2,656 individuals, which is 25 percent of the homeless in San Antonio.

Williams said it's a tough program, and requires participation in spiritual services, job readiness training, life skills training and debt reduction.

"They have to save 30 percent of their income to go toward debt reduction," Williams said. 

At the anniversary luncheon, Williams also announced a $1 million gift from community philanthropist Harvey Najim.

Eileen Pace is a veteran radio and print journalist with a long history of investigative and feature reporting in San Antonio and Houston, earning more than 50 awards for investigative reporting, documentaries, long-form series, features, sports stories, outstanding anchoring and best use of sound.