The Cárdenas Family

Miguel and Rosalva visiting the food pantry

*Names are kept anonymous to protect client privacy.

Just two years ago, Miguel and Rosalva Cárdenas lived in a $250,000 home in San Antonio. They lived on a combined income of $47,000. They hosted family barbeques once every two months and occasionally had friends and neighbors over for dinner. They cared after their youngest child, a 26-year-old woman with a learning disability. Their three older children lived on their own and supported themselves and their families.

Life seemed to be going well, until Miguel suffered a heart attack on the job and had a quintuple bypass. He was forced to stop working for months. Months later, Rosalva fell and broke three discs in her back. The doctor told her she could only work two hours a day, and so Rosalva lost her job.

“We went from earning $47,000 a year to $12,000 from disability insurance,” Miguel said. “Situations change. Hunger really can happen to anyone.”

In the last two years, Miguel and Rosalva have been trying to piece their lives back together. They sold their $250,000 home in San Antonio, moved to Austin and bought a trailer home. Until Rosalva‘s disability insurance goes through, she, Miguel and their daughter struggle to make ends meet.

“We never know when a person’s circumstances may change for the worst, but it is very comforting to know that there is someone out there who is willing to lend a helping hand,” Miguel said.

Miguel says one of his worst struggles is staying quiet and resting. “My Type-A personality doesn’t make it easy for me to rest. I can’t keep still, so the last two years have been hard.”

He is eager to get out of the house and do some volunteer work. “I used to volunteer all the time,” he said. “I volunteered for the Civil Air Patrol, which is part of the U.S. Air Force. We would bring children out of the streets and teach them leadership skills.”

As Miguel and Rosalva begin to get back on their feet, they plan to give back to El Buen Samaritano in the way of writing, translating and putting on puppet shows for El Buen’s youngest learners in the Child Learning Center.

Alexandra Saldívar

Volunteer taking cans of food of the shelf for a client

*Names are kept anonymous to protect client privacy.

Nineteen years old with a new born, Alexandra was facing the consequences of a financial crisis. With not one person to turn to and no family in the country, she turned to El Buen Samaritano in hopes of guidance to a clearer future. After her initial step of enrolling into our GED program, there were other needs Alexandra sought for the health and well-being of her family.

She was introduced to El Buen Samaritano’s Food Pantry, a food assistance program offering nutritious food and other essential goods to individuals with limited financial resources. She began to enroll in other services that would put her on the track to leading a healthier lifestyle. Knowing that there was childcare available for her one-year-old, she came to our campus motivated to take exercise classes at an affordable rate.


Our Child Learning Center (CLC) was beneficial to both Alexandra and her children. While Alexandra was in class, Angel was given the tools needed upon entering pre-kindergarten. “When Angel started pre-K, it was nothing new to him,” she said. “He was actually excited to go to school because of his experience at the CLC.” Later on, she also enrolled her second child, Erick, in the CLC, knowing it would prepare him just as it had prepared Angel.

But a year ago, the life Alexandra was beginning to rebuild had taken a detour. With two abusive confrontations with her husband, legal issues arising and no job, she was forced to put her GED preparatory classes on hold. She turned to the Wallace Mallory Clinic, where she was provided medical attention for her wounds and began seeing our Integrated Behavioral Health specialist or counselor for the emotional and mental trauma she had endured.

Alexandra, now 23, continues to commute across Austin in hopes of finishing her GED by the end of this year. “I have ACC right across the street from me, but I still decide to come all the way over here,” she said. “For someone to live so far and come to classes here, they must be doing something right.” For the last year and a half, Alexandra has focused on raising her two children and continues to seek help through El Buen Samaritano’s services. She comments that if she didn’t know anything about El Buen Samaritano, she doesn’t know where she would be right now.

Francisca López de Soler

Francisca and her daughter visiting the food pantry

“Coming to El Buen Samaritano’s Food Pantry opened many doors for me and my family,” said Francisca on her last visit to El Buen’s Food Pantry. “It was heaven-sent.”

Last February, Francisca came through the doors of El Buen to access what she referred to as a program that was “heaven-sent”. “The food is very healthy,” she said. “I’ve been part of other programs where the food wasn’t near as healthy. It’s really great!” El Buen’s Food Pantry not only provided fresh and healthy food for Francisca’s family, but also nutritious baby food and diapers for her newborn baby girl Melanie–something that was unique to her about our program.

With a newborn, a husband who sends money to Honduras to support his children, and no job due to caring for her daughter, Francisca looked for ways to make ends meet through programs that helped those in similar situations.  As time had quickly slipped away, things were finally beginning to look up as Francisca’s friend had pointed her in the right direction—El Buen Samaritano’s Food Pantry.

During the six months she received help from the Food Pantry, Francisca found herself motivated by many who had entered the doors of El Buen. With a niece finishing up ESL classes, Francisca also plans to start her educational journey at El Buen. She is inspired to use more of our services that will continue to help her and her family live healthy and productive lives.