Norma Jean Huerta joined the staff at SAMMinistries in September 2010 as Vice President of Programs. In this position, Norma Jean is responsible for the clinical and administrative oversight over all programmatic components of the Agency.
Prior to joining SAMMinistries, Norma Jean served as Clinical Data Program Manager with First Nations Community Healthsource in Albuquerque, NM. While with First Nations, Norma provided management and direction to programs and operations to include budget preparation, staffing, strategic planning and marketing, information technology, program development, and quality assurance. In addition, Norma Jean served as a behavior health clinician providing mental health and substance abuse counseling. Her work history has encompassed experience with military families and in community health clinics, with underserved and at-risk populations.
Norma Jean also worked with the Family Support Center at Lackland Air Force Base on an internship and managed the Family Readiness Program. Additionally, she administered the various programs offered on career, relocation, family, and other work/life services and activities provided to military members and their families.
Norma Jean has been an active member in a number of community service pursuits and chaired or participated as representative of local district boards dedicated to serving the underserved populations in New Mexico and Texas. In recognition of her contributions, Norma Jean was awarded the “2001-02 Volunteer of the Year Award”, the “2004 Excellence in Government Exceptional Student Award”, and the “2008 New Mexico Community Health Worker of the Year Award”.
Norma Jean earned her Masters Degree in Counseling and a Masters in Business Administration from Webster University. Norma Jean is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) and belongs to both the New Mexico and Texas Counseling Associations.
The AT&T Foundation recently announced that a grant for $250,000 was given to SAMMinistries to expand our existing Employment Readiness and Job Training Program. With this added funding, participants in the program will have more opportunities for job placement and individualized assistance.
This extended service will also include testing and/or assessments for employment interests, aptitude, and educational and job readiness skills administered by collaborating partners.
Once their assessments are completed, Job Coach Susie Cadena will meet with each candidate and interview them to complete their individual service plan. She will also help them with resumes, applications, and provide those who are ready with job leads.
In addition to her assistance, each individual will have access to computers to help with software training, resume building, and job searching opportunities.
Once placed into a work program, Cadena will conduct on site visits designed to help the individual move closer to their ultimate employment. Mitch Herrick, Employment Development Specialist for SAMMinistries, will act as a “community builder,” engaging area employers to share their expectations and the skills that their future employees will need.
In turn, this will help train participants in their selected career fields and align the needs of the local businesses with the trainees’ skills. This is a real win-win situation for the workers and the community.
Additionally, Herrick will network and collaborate with other organizations to provide services to help further employment opportunities through GED classes and testing, academic programs, certificate programming, or field specialized job training.
Between the educational and job training opportunities, the participants in this program will be better equipped to get the right job for their skill sets and much more!
Herrick commented on the program, as a whole, “The job-training program will allow these individuals to become more well-rounded through a variety of classes and job training environments. As they enhance and develop the skills necessary to succeed in the work environment, their confidence levels and attitudes about their work and life will most certainly improve.”
SAMMinistries is excited about the future of our employment readiness and job training program as it expands further to meet the life-changing needs of those we serve.
March 21, 2010 marked a very important milestone for the San Antonio Potters Guild (SAPG). This day marked the 10th Anniversary Empty Bowls Event.
Empty Bowls was started in San Antonio because of the vision and hard work of Lyn Woods and Kevin Finegan. Sadly, in 2009, SAPG lost Kevin in a tragic accident, but Lyn was at the event working harder than ever.
When asked why she had such a passion for Empty Bowls, Lyn replied, “When we first heard about the Empty Bowls Project we wanted to do it to bring awareness to the plight of the people in San Antonio that experience hunger and homelessness on a daily basis. And today, with an increase in the needs, it’s even more important to help the community become aware of our local issues.”
Over the last ten years it has taken the talent of hundreds of San Antonio and South Texas Potters to make over 15,000 bowls for Empty Bowls.
Under the direction of Robert Jodon, SAPG President, and Taaffe Caton, Empty Bowls Chairperson, this year’s soups and breads were donated by over 25 restaurants, caterers, and bakeries. The Silent Auction offered 159 items from local artists and stores.
This year’s event raised over $28,000 for SAMMinistries, bringing their total giving for ten years to nearly $200,000! We have truly been blessed financially by their efforts, but we are even more touched by their compassionate hearts for the poor and their unending determination to help spread the word.
SAMMinistries has been recognized nationwide for sound fiscal management.
The San Antonio-based ministry to the homeless has been awarded a 4-star rating for financial management by Charity Navigator, says SAMMinistries President and CEO Navarra Williams.
Charity Navigator President and CEO Ken Berger says only 21 percent of the charities the organization rates have received at least two consecutive 4-star evaluations. This standing indicates that SAMMinistries consistently executes its mission in a fiscally responsible way, and also outperforms most other charities in America.
AT&T contributed $250,000 to SAMMinistries to provide job readiness and training to San Antonio’s homeless population.
SAMMinistries will use the funds to expand its existing programs by providing comprehensive employment readiness assessments, training, opportunities for educational advancement, supervised job placement and living-wage employment opportunities.
Harvey E. Najim Family Foundation Issues Million Dollar Challenge
San Antonio businessman and philanthropist, Harvey Najim, has generously offered to double gifts totaling up to $500,000 that are received through September 30, 2009. This means- with the matching funds from The Harvey E. Najim Family Foundation- your gifts will go twice as far, help twice as many people, and provide double the life-changing services!
When asked if the current economy played a factor in his decision to issue this challenge, Mr. Najim stated, ”The fact that we are in an economic downturn means that there are more families who need these services,” but he was optimistic as he continued, ”I have seen homeless families with minor children stay together by utilizing the Transitional Living and Learning Center as a new beginning to getting back on their feet. They learn the basic essentials of being on their own and are able to become self-sufficient.”
Mr. Najim is known for his deep desire to help those in need, especially children. His wish to give them a chance in life and his wisdom regarding the challenges facing homeless families is revealed as he reflected, “Unfortunately, most of us see the world the way we live – and not the way it is. We live in a great country – and we cannot let families with children live under bridges and in cars. We cannot walk away from them and not let the children live the American dream.”
SAMMinistries President and CEO, Navarra Williams, expressed his appreciation for Mr. Najim’s commitment. “Typically, we see a decrease in giving during the summer months. Harvey’s support during this time is so important to our work. This summer, thanks to The Harvey E. Najim Family Foundation Million Dollar Challenge, friends and donors have one million additional reasons to help over the next few months. Thank you, Harvey, for your support! You are a true friend to the homeless of San Antonio.”
Please consider giving a gift during this very special time period to help make the dreams of children in dire need become a reality!
As one of the original residents of the Sisters of Mount Scared Heart Convent, Sister Stella has walked the halls of what is now our Transitional Living and Learning Center (TLLC) off and on for 50 years.
Sister Stella has known she wanted to be a nun since an early age. As a child with a ‘mischievous’ personality her parents sent her away to a boarding school run by nuns to ‘straighten’ her out; which only strengthened her resolve to be one.
After years of making her wishes known but not being taken seriously, she was disappointed, but not defeated, She had faith that if she was meant to be a nun, God would make a way.
Then in 1955, she was introduced to two nuns who were in the Order of Mt. Sacred Heart. They saw “something special” in her and invited her to start her training at Mt. Sacred Heart.
Three years later she took her Profession and began her studies at Incarnate Word where she earned degrees in Elementary Education and History.
She taught and coached at Mt. Scared Heart for 14 years. Then she was called to teach at schools in New Mexico, Texas, and finally in Oklahoma. Sister Stella suffered a stroke and, after 38 years, her teaching days were over. She then returned to the Mt. Sacred Heart Convent for her retirement years.
She was living at the convent, when the Sisters realized that the Order’s age and size could no longer afford the cost of maintaining the convent. In 2000, the perfect match was struck when SAMMinistries offered to buy the Mt. Sacred Heart Convent and use it for a transitional program for 40 families.
After the nuns found housing in the neighborhood, Sister Stella began searching for a place to begin volunteering and her search took her right back where she had started her service 45 years earlier.
The first director of TLLC had been in training at Mt. Sacred Heart when Sister Stella was in college. The Director had typed papers for Sister Stella, so now she wanted to repay the favor by helping her at TLLC.
Nine years later, Sister Stella is still volunteering twice a week at TLLC. She offers a wealth of historical knowledge about the facility and is always willing to share her stories of the past.
We are blessed to have her presence at TLLC- a place she called her home over 50 years ago! And we thank her for her years of service to SAMMinistries! She truly is “something special”!
Our children ages 5-11 who are currently living at our Transitional Living and Learning Center (TLLC) on Blanco Road attend an after-school program established to provide certified childcare for all children while their parents attend school or work. The YMCA provides this well-rounded and structured program onsite.
Parent Nurturing Program
The philosophy of the Nurturing Parent Program emphasizes the importance of raising children in a warm, trusting and caring household.
Play Therapy Program
Play Therapy can be a valuable tool in helping troubled children work through their issues, since play is a child's natural method of learning, developing, and expressing their feelings.
SAMMinistries created the Teen Program to focus on the special challenges of the homeless teens residing in our Transitional Living and Learning Center (TLLC).
All of those on the program staff are CPR and First Aid certified. They are trained extensively in child safety, developmental needs, and to promote positive guidance, positive behaviors, and socialization skills. They are trained to recognize indications of child abuse and child neglect and implement developmentally appropriate weekly lesson plans. The staff nurtures a positive self-image in the children and they each receive at least 30 hours of training each year.
Parents and case managers work closely with the staff to ensure that the children are being supported by all the adults in their lives. The stability of the same staff members and the same daily structure in this program allows the children to build trusting relationships with adults and learn appropriate behavioral and socialization skills.
The goals for the after-school program are:
Parent Nurturing Program
It is founded on the belief that children who are cared for develop the capacity to trust, care, and respect themselves, as well as other living creatures and the environment.
Accommodations are made to assist participants with low literacy levels and Spanish-speaking participants. The Parenting Program at SAMMinistries is MANDATORY for all guests with children. The program is conducted in group based sessions once a week for 11 weeks for any guests of our transitional programs at our Transitional Living and Learning Center (TLLC) and for 5 weeks at the Emergency Shelter on Commerce Street and will continue under our programs at Haven for Hope. Each class is 75 minutes. Classes for the adults and children run concurrently, discussing the same issues and what to expect during the next week. Participation in group sessions is mandatory for all families. Individual sessions including home visits are voluntary; however, strongly encouraged.
Feedback received from parents regarding the program is very positive. Parents have stated verbally and in writing that they are changing in a positive way and their family life is improving as a result of practicing the concepts learned. Direct observations by staff confirm the statements made by these parents.
The knowledge improvement rate at the TLLC last year was 100% compared to our original projection of 90%. For the Emergency Shelter the improvement rate was 92%, compared to the 60% projected.
Play Therapy Program
Evidence of Program Need
Play Therapy can be a valuable tool in helping troubled children work through their issues, since play is a child's natural method of learning, developing, and expressing their feelings. In a play therapy session, the child is the director and rule maker. They create a world they can master, practice social skills, overcome frightening feelings, and symbolically triumph over the upsets and traumas that have stolen their sense of well-being.
Getting though the teenage years is difficult on most young people and their parents. When homelessness is added to the insecurities of the teenage years, it is a volatile combination. Studies have shown that teens that grow up in a homeless family are more often than not going to end up homeless in their adult life. There is a much higher percentage of alcohol and drug abuse, in addition to sexual experiences in teenagers of homeless families.
The Teen Program gives our teens, which have spent most of their young lives in crisis, a place where they can be teens. By focusing on creative arts, we teach life skills and offer challenges and new exciting experiences.
The program provides a positive, constructive alternative for homeless teens. It is open to all young people age 12 - 18 years at the TLLC. The program includes guest speakers, art projects, field trips, organized sports, and culinary arts. During the school year, the program is offered Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 4:15 p.m. to 7:00 pm. And on Tuesdays from 6:45 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. (life skills classes are held from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Tuesdays). In the summer, the program is offered for thirteen weeks. The teens have an average of at least one field trip a week during the summer.back to top
Should you or a friend need our assistance, please feel free to call or contact us.
5254 Blanco Rd San Antonio, Texas 78216
For information regarding our transitional services contact SAMMinistries’ Transitional Living and Learning Center at 5922 Blanco Rd San Antonio, Texas 78216