Suzy Domingo, the executive director of Interfaith Caring Ministries, recently got a touching email from a client the nonprofit organization had helped.
Interfaith Caring Ministries workers gave flowers to a woman living in a house gutted after Hurricane Harvey. She set them up in her home and emailed Domingo to say they made her smile. What seemed like a small token made a true difference.
“It’s those flowers she commented on in her email,” Domingo said.
Domingo does not often hear positive comments from the hundreds the nonprofit helps each year, but when she does she feels a “satisfaction of knowing [we]made a difference in somebody’s life,” she said.
Interfaith Caring Ministries serves the “working poor” residents of Clear Creek and Friendswood ISDs. The nonprofit helps cover the monthly rent or utility bills of working families facing an unforeseen expense, such as a medical bill, Domingo said.
“Our typical client is someone that is working and probably living paycheck to paycheck, and something happens, and they hit a bump in the road,” she said. “We want it to be so whatever crisis occurred in their home they can keep going on as normal and not feel it’s gonna be a life-changing event.”
For some families the cost of paying for a child’s cheerleading uniform, renting a band instrument or even a field trip can be expensive enough to set families back, Domingo said.
“What we do is we come along, and we fill in that gap for them,” she said.
The nonprofit often cannot pay off clients’ entire bills. The organization might be able to pay for only $300 of a client’s rent or utilities and then refer them to a church that can help them cover the rest.
One of Domingo’s goals is to reach the point where Interfaith Caring Ministries can fill the entire gap for its clients, but the number of people who need help seems infinite, she said.
“It’s not gonna end,” Domingo said. “Sometimes it gets a little better, but we’re constantly trying to find new ways to raise money and have money to give to those who need it.”
Interfaith Caring Ministries started in 1985 when several Christian churches noticed a need to help those living paycheck to paycheck. The organization has since grown to include other religions; at least one Jewish synagogue and one Muslim mosque are part of Interfaith Caring Ministries, Domingo said.
For the nonprofit it does not matter the religious affiliation of clients nor the houses of worship that want to be part of the organization. What matters is giving those in need a hand up, she said.
“We welcome everybody, and same with our clients,” Domingo said. “If they’re in need we wanna help them.”
In addition to paying bills for clients Interfaith Caring Ministries helps the community in other ways.
Clients can come in for food five times a year. Included in the food Interfaith Caring Ministries gives clients are toiletries, diapers, paper towels and other items food stamps do not cover. The value of all the items is $183, Domingo said.
The organization also sets up a free Christmas shop of donated items that parents can visit and take gifts from. Interfaith Caring Ministries also gives away school supplies to children who need them and delivers groceries to elderly folks who are stuck at home.
The nonprofit provides food to an average of 400 clients a month and helps about 75 a month with rent and utilities. The organization’s annual budget is $1.2 million, at least half of which comes from grants and donations from churches and others. Interfaith Caring Ministries runs a resale shop, profits from which help fund the organization’s efforts, Domingo said.
Fundraisers also help the nonprofit, and a large one is coming up this holiday season.
At 6:30 p.m. Dec. 6, Interfaith Caring Ministries will host its Festival of Trees at the Lakewood Yacht Club. The nonprofit will display decorated artificial Christmas trees sponsors can rent and display at their businesses, Domingo said.
From fundraisers to paying for bills, Interfaith Caring Ministries does a lot to help the working poor.
“Our whole premise is we want to prevent homelessness,” Domingo said.
Interfaith Caring Ministries
151 Park Ave., League City
Mon.-Fri. 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.