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Sep 04, 2018 | Paulette E. Martin

Helping People in Need Comes Full Circle for Pasadena Vicar

For members of San Pedro/St. Peter’s, Pasadena, the havoc caused by Hurricane Harvey has become an opportunity to welcome new people to the church. The North Pasadena Community Outreach Center, based on their campus, became a food distribution center immediately after the historic storm feeding more than 5,000 people. The Center also helped many with emergency rent assistance.

Long-term relationships with organizations like the Harris County and Pasadena Health Center have made it possible for the Outreach Center to offer entry-level job training such as nursing assistance and phlebotomy, to many whose jobs were disrupted by the flooding last August, 2017.

“The Center helps people get back on their feet,” said the Rev. Pedro Lopez, vicar of St. Peter’s. “People have the opportunity to study and take courses for up to four months and usually get a job shortly after.”

Site coordinator Yendi Herrera said the Center’s goal is to provide a holistic service. “People coming to the center are receiving health, fitness, spiritual and educational courses for free,” Herrera said.

Lopez and Herrera credit Facebook ads they have used for easily reaching an interested audience with word about all the services the Center has to offer. They rely on a data base program, which allows them to track people who continue to seek help following Harvey, as well as people who come to the Center for the first time. They’ve learned that, aside from providing people with food, there is still a more pressing priority.

“The biggest necessity at this moment is rent assistance because a lot of people haven’t been able to recuperate,” Lopez said. “Many people continue to live with family members because they have not been able to rent or buy another house.”

Churches across the country, along with the Episcopal Diocese of Texas donated to approximately $35,000 to St. Peter’s to help with rent assistance following Hurricane Harvey, but over the course of a year, that fund has been exhausted.

Maria Guadalupe Lopez Flores, a mother of six children arrived at the Center hoping to find further rent assistance. Her husband is a day laborer with an unsteady workflow and she said her family faces eviction.

“Everything got worse after Harvey. Our apartment flooded and my car stopped working,” Flores said.

Although she faces many obstacles, her resilience to not give up remains strong.

“It has been pretty rough, but I am grateful for everything that has been given me,” added Flores.

She was able to receive some money to help her pay her rent.

The church currently has five classrooms that are used all day, every day by the Outreach Center. According to Lopez, around 200 people come to take the different classes they offer.

“Honestly, we need more space to allow more people to take advantage of these classes. We offer classes the entire day up until 10 p.m.,” added Lopez.

Lopez believes the more he gives to the community, the more fruits he receives in his church.

“Some of the best leaders of St. Peter’s are those who initially came here to receive help from the Center. It’s worth helping the community and seeing they’re taking advantage of the opportunities here because that allows them to get to know the church and the type of ministries we offer,” he added.