In the late 1980s, Austin was seeing a significant change in demographics with Latinos from South, Central America and Mexico migrating to the city. The Episcopal Diocese of Texas responded by founding El Buen Samaritano in a small rock house on West Mary and South Fifth Street. El Buen Samaritano opened in June 1987. The mission: to empower and support Austin Latino families in need.
In its early years, El Buen Samaritano's programs and services consisted of a soup kitchen, a clothing closet, a food pantry and literacy classes.
In 1989, El Buen Samaritano was awarded a United Thank Offering grant of $30,000 from the Episcopal Church to start a medical clinic. And with the help of volunteer physicians and volunteer nurses, El Buen began offering primary health services to uninsured individuals at its new location on South First Street.
By 1993, El Buen's clinic saw 350 people, almost doubling the amount from the previous year. And as the number of clients increased, El Buen Samaritano's programs also began to grow. That year, the organization served 9,050 hot meals, distributed 1,400 food pantry bags, and gave away 900 items to children through the clothing closet.
With the growing demand for services, former Executive Director Jaime Case launched Building Hope, a capital campaign to build a new campus in South Austin. In 2003, the $7.3-million successful campaign resulted in an 11-acre campus in South Austin for more classrooms, a medical clinic, and a multipurpose building that would also house San Francisco de Asis Episcopal Church.
EL BUEN SAMARITANO TODAY
Today, El Buen Samaritano's Wallace Mallory Clinic sees more than 6,000 patients each year. More than 1,100 students go through El Buen's English as a Second Language classes and over 330 children complete the Child Learning Center preliteracy curriculum every year.
El Buen Samaritano's basic needs program provides food to a monthly average of 1,300 individuals. Additionally, the nonprofit continues to serve more than 1,400 families during its Annual Hands for Hope Thanksgiving Event, and over 500 children and 26 families receive presents and the provisions needed to enjoy a Christmas celebration during its Breakfast with Santa event.
As an important mission of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas, El Buen Samaritano's success is the result of a clear vision and the dedication to see this vision through. From a small stone house to the beautiful three-building campus the organization occupies today, the commitment, hard work, contributions and support staff, volunteers, funders and communities throughout the past 25 years have helped El Buen Samaritano continue to enrich Latino families and the community at large encouraging their growth and empowerment in society.