Quick Facts:


  • GNSH is in one of the historically poorest neighborhoods in Brownsville, Texas, and focuses on the homeless and lower income families of the Buena Vida and downtown neighborhoods.
  • The age of a homeless individual in Brownsville is typically 50-70, primarily male.
  • The Buena Vida neighborhood, population 5,245 (a clearinghouse of U.S. Census and municipal data) is 0.6 square miles in size.

The Project


While originally serving, and widely recognized as a Soup Kitchn for nearly seven decades, GNSH provides numerous social services to homeless individuals in Brownsville, Texas. The GNSH staff serve as Navigators for the Texas Department of Health and Human Services, helping homeless clients navigate through various services provided by said agency.

The Client Services department at GNSH conduct Street Outreach activities twice a week, providing homeless individuals with items such as snack bags and water, health and hygiene products, anti-COVID19 kits, and seasonal items such as blankets, sunscreen, and more. Through this Street Outreach program, the GNSH team encourages homeless individuals to visit their facility and utilize their services, which includes:

  • A soup kitchen which provides three warm, nutritious meals daily
  • A shower and clothes program, allowing daily access to a 10-minute shower and clean change of clothes/shoes for hundreds of homeless monthly
  • A food pantry program providing groceries
  • Clinic facilities for complimentary, basic medical services
  • Free laundry services
  • A physical mailing address for approximately 125 homeless clients on any given month
  • Communication services: phone, fax, copier, printer, etc.

Lastly, GNSH helps with specialized case management services, such as helping homeless individuals become document-ready to obtain employment, critical services, and safe and affordable housing, as well as referrals to additional social services, like assistance with the IRS (federal stimulus check disbursement).

“It’s Time Texas and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas has helped our organization increase the number of homeless folks working towards securing sustainable, safe, and secure housing.”

– John Rodriguez, Client Services Manager

The Major Impact


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While the Street Outreach program at GNSH serves several social determinants of health (healthcare, awareness, quality, etc.), the overall aim is to positively impact the whole self. The Client Services team members work diligently to help achieve a higher quality of life for each homeless client, helping them receive services and necessary items to reach a better, healthier life. The goal is to utilize the Collaborative Innovations for Community Health grant to help 100 homeless individuals via Street Outreach services per month of the project period. Within these 100 individuals, the department will work with 20 new clients (unduplicated) per month, and strive to complete the program with 12 homeless individuals obtaining safe and affordable housing.

The Heart


An interview with:

The following questions were answered by GNSH team members Victor Alvarez, Client Services Case Manager, Alejandra “Alex” Mederos, Client Services Case Manager, and John Rodriguez, Client Services Manager.
How do you see impact being made through your organization?
“We see it when we conduct home visits with clients at their homes. These are the same clients sleeping at bus stops or on sidewalks just days earlier.”
Why is community important to you and what do you love most about your community?
“Community is important because as a unit, your community can help improve living conditions and situations, as long as your community proactively works together. We love the way people put family first and how resilient this community is despite all the challenges we face”
What does health equity mean to you?
“Health equity means having the resources available to all regardless of the situation. No one should be refused services for not having medical insurance.”

Quick Facts:


  • Iconium Missionary Baptist Church, located in Beaumont, Texas, was established in 1996.
  • Iconium Family Church has been teaching economic stability classes for adults for 24 years.
  • The course lasts eight weeks, offering access to financial resources, quality housing and food, and jobs that provide stable income.
  • The three teachers within the program have worked in finance for over 30 years and have an accounting background as well as a college education in finance and business.
  • The goal is to inform and provide the knowledge and support of changing one’s views on finances and how to become sustainable as an individual and as a family. Becoming debt-free and maintaining a budget with savings is something that is vital to a healthy life.
  • Provides resources and information that can be used instantaneously.
Pastor Walker, Iconium Family Church

The Major Impact


There are a number of social determinants the financial classes will support. People miss doctor appointments when they lack reliable transportation, children are exposed to environmental hazards like lead-based paint because families can’t afford to move to better neighborhoods, diets are poor, prescriptions go unfilled—financial status impacts your health.

The success of each participant in the economic stability class is determined by application of the student. The student will be given all the tools and knowledge to become economically stable. The way this will be evaluated is through a one-on-one sit down, pre-and post-consultations with their teacher to find out where they are financially (do they have a savings account, a checking account, credit card(s), etc.), and a pre- and post-class survey. The success of the class will be determined by the changes that have been made in the student’s life exactly one month after the eight-week course.

The Project


Iconium Missionary Baptist Church opened its classrooms to spread knowledge in the community though teaching classes on topics of financial literacy, bullying, crisis counseling, college readiness, and more. The audience the church serves are minorities, youth (13-18), poor, and working poor. This specific project focuses on economic stability for adults (19 and older) and works to lift people out of their current life challenge into a better situation for them and their immediate family.

For the past 24 years, this class has allowed members of the community access to resources essential to life, including financial resources, quality housing and food, and a job that provides a stable, living wage. Because of this class, students have increased their credit scores, purchased homes, created a savings and checking's account, and more.

The Major Impact


There are a number of social determinants the financial classes will support. People miss doctor appointments when they lack reliable transportation, children are exposed to environmental hazards like lead-based paint because families can’t afford to move to better neighborhoods, diets are poor, prescriptions go unfilled—financial status impacts your health.

The success of each participant in the economic stability class is determined by application of the student. The student will be given all the tools and knowledge to become economically stable. The way this will be evaluated is through a one-on-one sit down, pre-and post-consultations with their teacher to find out where they are financially (do they have a savings account, a checking account, credit card(s), etc.), and a pre- and post-class survey. The success of the class will be determined by the changes that have been made in the student’s life exactly one month after the eight-week course.

The Heart


An interview with:

Pastor Robert D. Walker – Leader, Facilitator, Teacher
Aundrey Petry Sr. – Teacher, Volunteer

What does success look like for this project? “Success of this project looks like our community members with an increased credit score of 700 or better. Success looks like people having a savings account and a checking account. It looks like people no longer live paycheck to paycheck. It looks like a family that benefits from financial freedom.”
- Pastor Walker

Why is community important to you, and what do you love most about your community? “Community is all we have. The people that live near you and with you make up your community. For all the flaws of people, there are double the grace and help from people. Your community helps pull up water-soaked carpets after a hurricane. Your community sees the need for food and creates a food bank. Your community fills in the gaps when and where they see the need. What I love most about my community is the diversity of the residents. We have all aspects of people that live here. This community is truly a melting pot.”
- Ms. Petry

While doing your work, when did you have an “aha” moment? “I’ve had several ‘aha’ moments. I have been teaching financial education classes for over 20 years now. When people come up to me and say, ‘I was able to send my child to a STEM camp because I had the money.’ When people get sick and are able to pay off the medical bills without going into bankruptcy or choosing between bills and food. The ‘aha’ moment is every time people are able to make smart decisions and they see tangible results.”
- Pastor Walker

What does health equity mean to you?“Health equity means to me, in one word: FREEDOM. When you have health equity, it means you have the power to make smart decisions in all aspects of your life. It means your children will benefit from your smart choices. It means that even if a hurricane hits (figuratively or literally), you can continue to live your life and you will not be uprooted for too long. Health equity equals freedom, leading to peace in your life. There’s nothing better than peace!”
- Ms. Petry

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