George and Kym Rapier. Courtesy image.

At a time when many in San Antonio are debating public policies for dealing with the city’s homeless population, the Rapier Family Foundation has donated $1 million to SAMMinistries to launch a homeless prevention program for seniors.

The program provides financial support to at-risk senior citizens to keep them in their homes.  SAMMinistries will respond to referrals from case managers who work at the city-run senior citizen centers throughout San Antonio.

“Over the years we have seen the enormously positive work SAMMinistries has done to prevent homelessness in our community,” stated Dr. George M. Rapier III and his wife, Kym in a press release announcing the grant. “This new program just makes such good sense.”

The seniors program is similar to SAMMinistries’ Homeless Prevention Program, which started in 2008 and has helped 20,000 people stay in their homes, including 13,000 children, but its restrictions do not follow the same guidelines. Whereas the Homeless Prevention Program provides rent and utility funds to those in need, the senior program extends beyond those boundaries.

“The Rapier Family realized that rents and utilities are not the only things that people may need,” said SAMMinistries President and CEO Navarra Williams.

SAMMinistries will first help seniors resolve their immediate issue, whether it be providing funds for medical bills, car trouble, or mortgages, and will then refer the individual to the necessary agency to receive longterm help.

“This is not something that we want to continue to do on a monthly basis,” Williams said. “We want to refer them to other agencies to get to the root of the problem.”

Although the Homeless Prevention Program accepts direct calls from interested individuals, the senior program will not accept phone calls. The senior must be referred by a case manager.

The Rapier Family Foundation is a charitable trust started by Dr. Rapier, CEO of WellMed Medical Management Inc., and his wife. WellMed is a healthcare network that provides care for seniors in Texas and Florida.

“Our work with seniors through WellMed Medical Management and in our senior centers by WellMed underscored the need we have seen to help seniors who are struggling and are at risk for homelessness,” the Rapiers stated.

The Rapier Family Foundation donated the $1 million to be used over the course of three years. In 2008, the Rapiers donated $300,000 to help start the Homeless Prevention Program, and in 2011 they donated an additional $2 million for the program.

“The new program can literally be a lifesaver for many who have nowhere else to turn for help,” the Rapiers stated.

Visit SAMMinistries’ website to make your own donation.

*Top image: George and Kym Rapier. Courtesy image.  

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Former Rivard Report Assistant Editor Joan Vinson is a San Antonio native who graduated from The University of Texas with a bachelor's degree in journalism. She's a yoga fanatic and an adventurer at heart....