Quick Facts:


  • Rent/Mortgage assistance is the number one unmet need identified by 211Texas in the Sonshine Center’s service area.
  • The median rent in the Brazos-Valley region of Texas is $800 per month, and mortgages are well over $1,000.
  • The Sonshine Outreach Center is managed by a board of directors from 14 area member churches, who support in various ways, including providing volunteers and board members, and collecting food and hygiene items for their food pantry, as well as donating benevolence monies when the need of a client surpasses the Center’s ability to pay.
  • Sonshine Center is a crisis intervention center, so it is able to deal with many different needs.

The Project


In the wake of COVID-19, requests for rent/mortgage assistance have nearly tripled in the Brazos-Valley Region of Texas.

Clients who come to the Sonshine Outreach Center have often exhausted all other avenues. The clients have urgent needs with no other place to turn to. Whether it is a down payment for a lifesaving surgery, eyeglasses, MRI, etc. The Center will provide services necessary to transition the client past the immediate need while working to place them on more stable ground. Many clients are forced to choose between seeking healthcare and paying rent, mortgage, or utilities. The goal of Sonshine Center is to provide assistance with services such as rent, mortgage, or utilities, therefore allowing clients to use their funds for medical help. 

Because the Sonshine Center is a crisis intervention center, we are able to deal with many different needs, sometimes from the same client.

Our community has been through a year and a half of really hard times with the pandemic, loss of jobs, and illness and death of family and friends. The Sonshine Outreach Center has been so blessed to receive the It’s Time Texas grant sponsored by BCBSTX. With this grant, the Center is able to give monetary support to clients who are experiencing crisis in this difficult time. We are so blessed and thankful to have been chosen.” - VP Sonshine Center BOD, Pat Harper

“The Sonshine Outreach Center is so blessed and grateful to receive the It’s Time Texas grant. It will enable us to continue providing assistance to residents of our community. We have seen the needs increase dramatically over the last year and this grant enables us to better serve those needs. The size and scope have also increased, so this grant is a true blessing.”

- Sonshine Center President BOD, Georgia Stark

The Major Impact


Rent/mortgage assistance is the number one unmet need identified by 211Texas in the Sonshine Center’s service area. In wake of COVID-19, requests for rent/mortgage assistance have almost tripled. In 2020, the Sonshine Outreach Center funded 45 rent or mortgage assistance payments. Additionally, they’ve seen a significant rise in unmet medical needs ranging from prescriptions to physical therapy, to emergency surgeries that would have previously been covered by insurance. Sonshine Center met the needs for 29 clients for prescriptions alone in 2020. As COVID-19 continues, people continue to get farther behind and the bills become larger than ever before. 

With 14 board of directors through local churches, the Center has various ways of providing for clients and collecting food and hygiene items. The Sonshine Center manages a resale store that is totally donation-based with seven part-time staff and 30 regularly scheduled volunteers who work the cashier or sort donated merchandise. The Center is a crisis intervention center, dedicated to those who find themselves in a crisis situation through no fault of their own and need immediate help with a vast variety of services.

It is the goal of the Sonshine Center to transition the client out of crisis with assistance for utilities, rent, mortgage, or medical needs. The grant provided by It’s Time Texas and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas is specifically for rent/mortgage, medical, and utility needs of clients.

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

The Heart


An interview with Sonshine Outreach Center.

What are your hopes/wishes/wins that will bring joy to you at the close of this project?
“If we can transition one family out of crisis and back to normal life this is a win for me. Of course, I would like to do that for 50 families, but I realize that is a lofty goal. Seeing true gratitude, especially in the eyes of the children of the family, make me love my job.” - Lisa Wamsley, Coordinator
While doing your work, have you ever had an “Aha” moment?
“My AHA moments are when we get that thank you note from those that we’ve helped. Those moments when you get an unexpected thank you for all your hard work. Customers thank us for helping the community. These moments touch my heart.” -Ethel Burns, Floor Assistant
What does health equity mean to you?
“Health equity means everyone having the opportunities for food, housing, and medical treatment regardless of race or socio-economic conditions.” - Lisa Wamsley, Coordinator
“Health equity means to me that everyone should be able to live a healthy life. Insurance should be affordable to all that need it.” - Ethel Burns, Floor Assistant

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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