Posted: Jan 23, 2013 2:00 PM by Janine Reyes
Updated: Jan 23, 2013 6:43 PM
CORPUS CHRISTI -- Tuesday, we told you about the panhandling problem on Corpus Christi streets. But, could you actually be contributing to that problem? Although you may sometimes feel compelled to hand cash to that person, you have no idea where that money is going, or how it will be spent.
But, there are organizations that can take those donations and help the homeless in need actually make a change.
We met Susan Benson along Shoreline Tuesday, "I slept there one night, behind the trash can, on the corner," she said of her life on the streets. She's accused of panhandling to get by, she's even been arrested for it and although you can tell she's in need - if you give her cash, there's no telling where it will go.
There are places she can go for help, one of those is Corpus Christi Metro Ministries. Turns out Benson's been there before. "Rainbow House, you go in at 7:30 and you get let out at 6 in the morning, its pretty much like kindergarten for adults," she told us.
Rainbow House is the part of Metro Ministries that houses women and children. It's currently home to 23 women and 16 children.
CEO Patty Clark admits, staying there is not a free ride. "When they come through those doors down there, they are saying to us, we need a change, we need help, I need more education, I need more job skills, I want to live independently, can you help me do that," she said. That's exactly what Metro Ministries uses your money to do.
The facility that includes separate quarters for women and men goes beyond meeting basic needs. They also provide intense case management, helping people find affordable housing; helps guide them towards developing job skills, even teaches them to manage their money.
"We have a 70/30 savings plan here, 70% of what she makes goes into her bank account, the other 30%, she can spend as she wishes but as long as she's earning an income, we keep 70% of it and then when she leaves, she's got a great nest egg," Clark explained.
The facility even has a newly renovated playground for children, where they celebrate birthdays monthly.
Metro Ministries follows their clients for 6 months after they become independent, to help with any problems.
Clark says for those who are motivated, the program is so successful, former clients even pay it forward.
"They come back and they give us a money order for $10 or they give us $5, they want to come and volunteer," said Clark. Not only does Metro Ministries use those funds for the facilities, but they also serve up to 480 meals a day, available to anyone who needs one.
"By and large, we're putting beautiful meals out," said Clark as she showed us the fresh salads and fruits offered up for lunch today.
So, while the temptation may be there to stop and help that person asking for cash, Clark urges you to instead donate those funds to an organization with accountability.
"I know how hard it is when you see somebody at the curb and they're struggling and your first thing is, I've got some change, I can give them some change, but gosh, we would love to have your change, we would love to have it, because your change really helps us change lives," she said.
For more information on Metro Ministries or the services offered, click here.
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