Methodist Healthcare Ministries President and CEO Jaime Wesolowski speaks to the crowd at the Dixon Wellness Center grand opening. Credit: Roseanna Garza / San Antonio Report

As Bexar County continues to grapple with the emotional and financial toll brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, nonprofit Methodist Healthcare Ministries (MHM) has provided more than $400,000 in grants to help local organizations continue to serve those in need.

The Children’s Shelter and the San Antonio Food Bank are among four local organizations receiving a portion of the $1.1 million MHM allocated for emergency grant funding for COVID-19 relief efforts throughout the 74 counties the organization serves across South Texas. Emergency grant funding was provided to 46 nonprofit, health, and social service agencies within the service area.

The more than $1.1 million is in addition to $32 million already provided by MHM to funded partners in 2020.

President and CEO Jaime Wesolowski told the Rivard Report that the nonprofit, which is dedicated to creating access to health care for low-income families and the uninsured, is providing funding to organizations “experiencing more than double the typical demand for services.” This includes mental health services provided by Jewish Family Services of San Antonio the Texas Diaper Bank, which received , Christian Assistance Ministries, and San Antonio food pantry Fuerza Unida.

“We are proud to stand with our communities who are hurting and need a little extra help today,” Wesolowski said. “We know that they are resilient and that by working together, we can ensure that everyone has access to the care and support they need.”

Of the more than $400,000 in funding for Bexar County, MHM is providing $50,000 to the San Antonio Diaper Bank for families in need of diapers and other hygiene supplies. Diaper Bank CEO Jorge Medina said in a statement that the funding will help the organization meet the “surging demands for diapers, feminine pads, and wipes [for] families whose income has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Medina said that for health and safety purposes, Texas Diaper Bank “increased the amount of product offered to clients” during each visit in order to reduce the amount of face-to-face contact at its main facility in Northwest San Antonio.

Jewish Family Services received $32,529 to support a collaborative mental health response for low-income students and families sheltering in place, and the Children’s Shelter received $15,000 to meet increased demand and additional costs due to sheltering in place.

Wesolowski said that MHM was tasked with ensuring the funds were distributed equitably among the 74 counties served by the agency, which included consideration of whether other philanthropic entities would be able to help.

This is why of the more than $1.1 million, more funding went to rural areas throughout the state, where there are less philanthropic initiatives.

“Some of the rural areas we serve have no other philanthropic support available, so we had to fund programs while keeping in mind which areas have support of organizations other than MHM,” Wesolowski said.

Within the 74-county region served by MHM, six food banks, including the Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley, South Texas Food Bank, Food Bank of Golden Crescent, Central Texas Food Bank, and Concho Valley Regional Food Bank received priority along with the San Antonio Food Bank, which received $200,000, Wesolowski said.

“When it comes to feeding people, we have to put these organizations on an even playing field because when it comes to food and basic needs, it’s an even playing field,” Wesolowski said. “We prioritized the best we could because [food banks] throughout the state are experiencing incredible financial shortfalls.”

The $35,000 in funding provided to San Antonio-based Christian Assistance Ministries will be used to supply handwashing stations, and hygiene supplies for homeless people, while I Care San Antonio, which provides eye exams, glasses, and necessary surgeries for low-income residents, will use its $33,435 grant to continue operations during the COVID-19 crisis.

“We want to make sure that organizations that have had a reduction of resources due to the pandemic can continue offering necessary services to those in need,” Wesolowski said. “We know that they are resilient and that by working together, we can ensure that everyone has access to the care and support they need.”

Roseanna Garza reports on health and bioscience for the San Antonio Report.