One South Austin nonprofit that provides the Latino community with the support it needs is celebrating a major milestone of 35 years in 2023.

What it does

El Buen Samaritano, meaning “The Good Samaritan,” is an outreach ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas.

The organization started out of the need for health care and food, but its mission has grown to provide access to youth programs, adult education, and financial and benefits assistance.

“Our vision is to create a community where everyone feels included and where everyone has the opportunity to reach their highest potential,” CEO Rosamaria Murillo said.

Who they help

The nonprofit offers an after-school academic support program for students in first through eighth grade. The program offers extra academic assistance in science, technology, engineering, art and math that align with Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills standards. The program also aligns with English Language Proficiency Standards by supporting bilingual students.

“Education is essential. I am a first-generation college graduate and first-generation immigrant, and the only chance I had to spin out of poverty was to get an education,” Murillo said. “I think that's still true for many Latino families and children.”

When students enter the program, staff conduct a psychosocial emotional assessment and academic assessment with students’ parents and also individually with the student, Murillo said. Based on that, staff creates individual academic goals for each student.

“So for one child, they need to learn at a grade level at minimum, so the intervention is we're reading with and teaching them the basics about what it takes to get to that level,” Murillo said.

At least 77% of students improved their grades at the end of one semester in the program per subject.

Growing demand

When the pandemic hit, El Buen Samaritano went from serving 100 families a week to 700 families a week. The organization’s food pantry has served over 48,000 individuals throughout the last three years.

“Right now, we are starting to serve almost at the same level that we did when the pandemic hit, and we're continuing to see the need for access to food,” Murillo said.

El Buen Samaritano offers access to nutritious and healthy food through its drive-thru food pantry at its location Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8-10 a.m. It also offers mobile pantries where volunteers deliver food to areas that are considered food deserts.

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