River City Advocacy requires community support as client demand grows

River City Advocacy offers art therapy as an approachable method of counseling. (Monica Romo/Community Impact Newspaper)
River City Advocacy offers art therapy as an approachable method of counseling. (Monica Romo/Community Impact Newspaper)

River City Advocacy offers art therapy as an approachable method of counseling. (Monica Romo/Community Impact Newspaper)

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River City Advocacy's future facility would double the nonprofit's capacity. (Courtesy River City Advocacy)
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River City Advocacy's future facility would double the nonprofit's capacity. (Courtesy River City Advocacy)
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River City Advocacy has outgrown its current location. (Warren Brown/Community Impact Newspaper)
There is a growing demand for mental health care in New Braunfels, and nonprofit counseling center River City Advocacy is seeking support from members of the community as it aims to build a larger facility that can meet the needs of its growing clientele.

To date, RCA has raised about $750,000 for a new building with support from organizations such as the McKenna Foundation and Kronkosky Charitable Foundation.

Christus Santa Rosa has agreed to lease a plot of land at 1614 W. San Antonio St. for $1 per year for 20 years, with the option to extend the lease another 20 after that.



Roughly $50,000 is required to break ground, but the remaining balance of the million-dollar project needs to come from the community to encourage buy-in that will help sustain operations, according to RCA Executive Director Adam Robinson and McKenna CEO Alice Jewell.


“We need community support to finish this project,” Robinson said. “We need about $50,000 to break ground. That’s, give or take, 5% of the project.”

In 2019, the RCA conducted nearly 2,100 counseling sessions, and 370 clients attended counseling and/or peer support groups.

Robinson said that represented a 50% jump from the previous year, and he expects similar growth in 2020.

“We don’t have the physical space to accommodate more counselors,” Robinson said. “We are just barely meeting some of that need right now.”

Robinson and Jewell emphasized a sense of urgency for public fundraising and donations.

“It is [Christus’] expectation that the community comes around to this need, supports this need and we’re able to open the doors before the end of the year,” Jewell said.

The agreement between the RCA and Christus for the proposed building’s land was signed last year and stipulates a two-year timeline for the project. Jewell and Robinson are adamant that Christus has been a good partner but that this project requires the community to step up, and quickly, for its continued success and growth.

The RCA’s sliding scale-based counseling fees are unique in New Braunfels, and sessions typically range from $15-$60 for clients without insurance.

“Most people that come here pay $20 for their counseling session on our sliding scale fee,” Robinson said. “Almost every [client] I’ve met wants to pay for this service, they just want to be able to pay what they can and what’s affordable.”

The nonprofit’s goal is to ensure people with low to medium income and no insurance have access to mental health care. One in four Comal County residents has no health insurance, according to Robinson.

“They’ve eliminated basically every barrier to access,” Jewell said. “Not only is it in the middle of town, but regardless of your ability to pay they’re going to be able to provide you with the care that you need.”

Fifteen percent of annual operating funds originate from fees that clients pay for counseling, according to Robinson. Forty-five percent is supplied by pass-through funds from Texas Health and Human Services; 30% is from grants; and 10% is from community donations.

“Right now our [annual] budget is about $300,000,” Robinson said. “That’s what it takes to meet the need that we are currently addressing here.”

Fundraising for this mental health facility comes at a time when the community is grappling with at least two alleged cases of suicide in February alone: one of a well known local business owner, and also a murder-suicide at Sage Apartment Complex.

Vanessa, an RCA client, and others like her depend on the RCA to help turn their lives around at their lowest points. Although she had doubts about whether she was ready to seek help, the RCA’s art therapy classes made counseling more approachable.

“Before I found the RCA, I was struggling with alcohol addiction. I was very depressed. I felt useless as a person,” Vanessa said. “I felt like I was nothing.”

After a year and a half of counseling, she has her life in order and is working again. Vanessa said she is part of a community of clients that socialize at the nonprofit and relieve stress in a judgment-free environment.

“There have been so many great things that came from just this, and I wish that more people would know about it,” Vanessa said. ”I don’t know where I would be without the RCA, because it’s just changed my life so much.”
By Warren Brown
Warren joined Community Impact at the beginning of 2020 as the editor of its New Braunfels paper and now reports the news in San Marcos, Buda and Kyle. Warren previously wrote for the Dallas Observer and Fort Worth Weekly and he brings a passion for truth and equality to his reporting.