Good Neighbor Settlement House is the recipient of the Outstanding Community Organization award by the Texas Homeless Network for their work with the homeless community in Brownsville.
Every year, the network hosts a conference in Austin but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they had to cancel. After seeing all the work Good Neighbor has been doing with the homeless community this year, they decided to recognize them.
“With the pandemic, they noticed Good Neighbor being more out there not just with the community but especially with the homeless, doing prevention for COVID, providing PPE for every single one of the clients and other agencies around the State of Texas were seeing that and that’s why they nominated us,” said Hugo Zurita, executive director at GNSH.
“It’s really important because this past year during COVID we have been out there a lot: our food pantry with our homeless community, communicating with our homeless community to make sure they have everything they need not just for COVID but for all the essential items they need. It has been an incredible year for the staff as well because we’ve all been out there giving it our all and making sure they have everything they need. “
Good Neighbor offers several services to the homeless community such as having an outreach street team who goes to the downtown area and provides services to them such as hygiene kits and food. For those that do want to visit GNSH they provide case management, soup kitchen, showers and laundry services.
“Sometimes they need hygiene kits, items for themselves sometimes we take them food, so it’s important for them to know that even though it’s a long walk for them we still go and provide services,” Zurita said.
“For those that do want to come to Good Neighbor we provide case management, many times there is clients who lose their documents, something happens so we try to assist them in getting those documents so they can get their driver’s license, ID, social, so that they can apply for benefits.”
This year, seeing the importance of voting, Good Neighbor decided to help the homeless community have a voice and offered services so they could vote using the GNSH address. More than 60 people registered at the settlement house.
“”That was a big thing this time of the year, many times because people think you’re homeless, and for your income and economic status [you can’t vote] but no, everybody has the right to vote, so this year with the election coming up we decided to register the majority of our homeless community to vote,” Zurita said.
“So they use this address as their primary address, so many of them get mail already here at Good Neighbor and with that we were able to register them to vote. We had a big number, we had about 61 individuals registered to vote.”
When it comes to the goals for 2021, Zurita said he hopes to provide even more services to the homeless community to help them get out of the situation they are in. He said 2020 has been an hectic year for the whole community and he wants to thank the staff for their efforts.
“I’m just really proud of the staff, this is a big team effort, especially our board of directors have been very supportive on our 2020 here. It has been a really hectic year not just for the community, but especially for the homeless community and I want to thank the whole community because they have been very supportive through our whole transition, through all our efforts that we’ve been doing and I’m just happy that a lot of them are noticing our hard efforts and our hard work,” Zurita said.