Collaborative Innovations for Community Health, Meet the Grantee: St. Vincent’s House
Through the generosity of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas’ Healthy Kids, Healthy Families grant, It’s Time Texas awarded the community-based, Galveston County organization St. Vincent’s House sub-grant funding through the It’s Time Texas Collaborative Innovations for Community Health (CICH) program.
The Collaborative Innovations for Community Health (CICH) program began in 2021 and provides funding for community-based organizations who mobilize and quickly distribute resources where they are most needed within targeted communities. This year, It’s Time Texas targeted two regions of Texas: San Antonio Metro and Galveston County. A total of five community-based organizations were chosen from these two areas in Texas. Funding supports the delivery of effective programs and services that improve critical health outcomes, address root causes of health disparities, remove barriers to access, and advance community conditions for health and wellness. It’s Time Texas partners with these grantees throughout the year to support their projects and initiatives, as well as their marketing and communication efforts in order to enhance their mission and visibility within their community.
Throughout 2022, It’s Time Texas is funding and partnering with St. Vincent’s House in Galveston County. St. Vincent’s House was founded by the Episcopal Church and has been supporting the Galveston County community for over 45 years. Beginning as a refuge for fishermen, it now acts as a community center and integrated care system, with over 20 different specialty clinics, community programs, a food bank, and garden, to support the community.
“We’ve grown into a place of healing and hope for the community,” said Bethanie Miller, the Programs and Operations Director of St. Vincent’s House.
The mission of St. Vincent’s House is to provide essential services and resources to empower families and individuals to become self-sustaining and contributing members of the community. Through the Collaborative Innovations for Community Health funding, St. Vincent’s House is better able to supplement and support their food pantry services.
Galveston County does not have a whole lot of access to fresh, healthy food. While there are plenty of restaurants and fast-food chains, the island only has three grocery stores and acts as a food desert for those who don’t have transportation readily available. Currently, St. Vincent’s House food pantry is only able to hold non-perishables and canned foods, as it does not have refrigeration for fresh produce.
“To develop support for those who are not SNAP-eligible, we are partnering with another Collaborative Innovations for Community Health grantee, Galveston’s Own Farmers Market.
Through this, we hope to support those who are not SNAP-eligible in getting fresh foods and produce at the farmers market through a voucher system,” said Ms. Miller. “It’s pretty great that we have the opportunity to strengthen our relationships with them through this grant.”
St. Vincent’s House partners with UTMB Health, The University of Texas Medical Branch students and other partners in the area to care for their community, and it shows through their attention to detail and wrap-around services.
“Most people come to us via our food pantry. That‘s really the point of introduction to us. However, we aren’t ever rushing people to get their food and leave. We like to talk to them, see what’s going on, and from there, we will tell them about our other services and ways to support. A lot of people might not know all we can do for them until we have a conversation.”
St. Vincent’s House offers everything, from homebound deliveries to cardio care and financial literacy classes to PT—it’s truly a place of hope, where people can come for short-term solutions and work with resource navigators and case managers for long-term solutions.
“We try to help people become self-sustaining and it manifests in a lot of different ways. Since we are small in space, we have a tight schedule to keep clinics rotating throughout our building based on what’s needed by the community. For example, our nurse practitioners are there every day Monday through Friday, but every Wednesday we have PT, Thursday OT, specialty clinics in the later afternoons, and so on,” said Ms. Miller. “And if we don’t have the resources you need, we will find you a partner that does, or create a service ourselves.”
Ms. Miller works on the management side of St. Vincent’s House, but has definitely seen the impact she’s making on the community whenever she gets a chance to work hands-on in programming. Recently, a man who visited the heart clinic was in heart failure, and was prescribed an extremely strict diet with less sodium. St. Vincent’s House was able to set him up with homebound delivery services.
“I’ve gotten to go and drop off food, and I see the difference. I see him looking better, moving more. It’s truly the fruit of your labor, and it just reminds me, ‘okay, this is why we do this’. He is smiling and healthy and looking good – we are actually making an impact!” smiled Ms. Miller.