It's a special week of celebration for Healthcare for the Homeless Houston, celebrating 20 years of service, all while raising funds to take care of our homeless population for many more.
Healthcare for the Homeless Houston is a full-service clinic with three locations. We visited the one in the heart of downtown before the pandemic. They strive to care for people, while showing dignity and providing hope in a loving, accepting atmosphere.
Joseph Benson is known as "Cowboy" there. He has come full circle, starting out as a client, then a volunteer, and now an employee.
It started 30 years ago, when he was in a devastating car accident that claimed his leg.
“I wound up being in a hospital for two and a half years. And because the guy didn't have insurance, I had insurance, but that's when I found out that insurance companies have a ceiling on the amount of money they can spend on you. I reached my ceiling,” explains Cowboy.
He ended up splitting from his wife and was on his own. He was a man, down on his luck, who lost everything to an accident.
“I wound up on the streets of Houston for four and a half years, sleeping right there under the Pierce elevated bridge,” says Cowboy.
He found out about the clinic that could help him, and it ended up changing his life forever.
“It was a great blessing, ended up keeping my wounds clean and kept things from getting worse,” states Cowboy.
He says they put him in a program to help get him off of drugs and offered him a volunteer position that led to his job today.
“It's a great feeling! Healthcare for the Homeless does great things, by providing dignity and providing hope through comprehensive healthcare,” says Cowboy.
Deidre Young has a similar story, after also starting out as a client.
“I was homeless in Houston. I became disabled, in and out of halfway houses at an early age, but then was able to get housing and disability,” says Deidre.
She says Healthcare for the Homeless was a big supporter. They believed in her and that helped her finally believe in herself.
“Anything's possible. I never thought I would be where I am today. A voice for those who are misunderstood and suffer from mental illness,” says Deidre.
This healthcare center offers something others can't.
“We give access to healthcare to everybody, regardless of not having an ID or ability to pay,” says Carl Cuesta. He’s a nurse practitioner for HHH. He explains how their care is unique as well, offering everything from a state-of-the-art dental clinic to specialized mental health services, including drug and alcohol programs. They even offer cancer screenings.
“Our clients come in for (conditions like) hypertension and diabetes, but a lot of them as well have mental health conditions. So what I like is when someone comes in, you can be seen for all those conditions as well.
If you need behavioral health, mental health, they can see you the same day,” explains Cuesta.
Now the clinic hopes our community will step up to help end homelessness today during their week-long virtual gala of "mission moments", replacing their in-person events that had to be cancelled during the pandemic.
“Every day this week we're posting a mission moment. It highlights different aspects of what we do as an organization and how donors really impact the lives of the men, women, and families we serve,” states Carlie Brown, the Executive Vice President of HHH.
She wants to make sure everyone knows that some donors will even get special gifts for their donation, including a designer mask or silk scarf, depending on the amount of the donation.
Healthcare for the Homeless Houston was also just named a top non-profit charity in the country with how they’re handling COVID-19.
For more information and plenty of ways to get involved, head to: https://www.homeless-healthcare.org