CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The pandemic has brought about many unforeseen problems to many families in the Coastal Bend. Metro Ministries provides services related to food, shelter, medical and social services for those in need in the area.
Loaves & Fishes is a free cafeteria distributing lunch and dinner Monday through Friday. Typically, the cafeteria distributes 600-800 meals a week, but during the height of the pandemic, staff served about 200 more meals per week over a 14 week period.
“The pandemic not only has been scary, because it’s unlike anything any of us have experienced in our lifetime, along with that comes such uncertainty about the future,” said Metro Ministries CEO and Deputy Director, Patty Clark. “We saw a whole new group of people needing food, we saw a new group needing assistance with mortgage, rent and utilities, same thing with healthcare.”
Clark said some reasons for the increase were families not getting meals, and people working in the hospitality industry not getting meals they typically receive. Metro Ministries was able to accommodate the increase in meals due to flexible planning. Loaves & Fishes did not close at all during the pandemic, and it was crucial to many people who were looking for a warm meal.
“I think I would be lost [without them], there are so many services that are not helping any more. Mother Theresa’s, they help with the breakfast and lunch, but it’s kind of hard when you don’t have an ID or social. So, it’s kind of making it rough for a lot of us to get help,” said Jessica Ann Rodriguez, who relies on Loaves & Fishes for meals.
Rodriguez and her husband have been homeless for around two years. They moved to Corpus Christi from Dallas, and have relied on Metro Ministries.
“When we came here they actually helped us as far as hygiene wise, being able to see the doctor, medical, and helping provide us with food,” Rodriguez said.
Metro Ministries also offers shelter services to those in need. Rainbow House provides transitional housing to women, women with children, and women who have aged out of the foster care system; Rustic House provides the same for homeless, mentally or physically disabled, and/or elderly men.
“There are house rules, house chores, required meetings, but this is the place to give you that chance to rest, get back on your feet, and move on to independent living, that’s our hope for you,” Clark said.
One woman who relies on Rainbow House is Melanie Williams. She has been using the services since a few weeks before Christmas.
“I can’t say enough about how important they are, if not for this place, I would be out on the street,” Williams said. “If this place wasn’t here, there’d be a lot of people, families with children, that would be homeless.”
Williams said staying at Rainbow House has helped her with stress; she doesn’t need to worry about money for rent, food, or medical expenses.
Metro Ministries provides medical assistance through the Dr. James Gabbard Memorial Health Clinic. Gabbard Medical provides medical and vision exams, and can even help with prescriptions.
Vineyard Social Services provides assistance not covered by the other Metro Ministries services, including rent assistance, clothing and hygiene distribution, and case management services.
While the programs offered by Metro Ministries are free, people who seek their services will need to work to improve their situation through the help of the staff.
“We are a program for transformational change, it’s important that everyone who comes in to our program understands what our expectations are. We want to help you achieve your goals, so the case manager will sit down and discuss what you need, and how we can help them,” Clark said.
People who rely on Metro Ministries must work towards getting or finishing education, or acquiring a job. Metro Ministries also helps with financial literacy, requiring people to open bank accounts and save their money, so they have savings when they no longer need Metro Ministries’ services.
Metro Ministries has served the community since 1982, and Clark said they will continue to provide their services as long as their are people who need them.
“We’re able to say, ‘Metro Ministries has always been here, we will always be here, and so for those needs we will be sure to be here to meet them,’” she said.
Metro Ministries is located at 1919 Leopard St. in Corpus Christi, and can be reached by phone at (361) 887-0151, fax at (361) 887-7900 and email at firstname.lastname@example.org.