Helping Our Hispanic Neighbors

El Puente - Hispanic Ministry’s staff member Nena Neal (right) uses the agency van to provide transportation to an appointment for a mom and newborn served by the agency. United Way’s Community Support Grant aids in maintenance and fuel costs for the van used daily to transport clients to medical appointments.

Article by Sr. Barbara Neist
SSND Program Associate, El Puente - Hispanic Ministry

“The help we receive from El Puente–Hispanic Ministry, from the sisters and the lay workers, is very important for Hispanic women and our children. You help us get medical insurance, and accompany us on our appointments to translate what the doctors, nurses, and other health personnel tell us. I have been blessed by this program and by the help from El Puente ever since I came to the United States.  El Puente has accompanied me when I was pregnant and they continue to accompany me to this day. They help me to access the services my family needs for our well-being, our health and our education. . . . This program helps many women and children in Jefferson City.”

This translation of a recent letter to the staff of El Puente–Hispanic Ministry reflects the impact the agency has on the community. Guided by the vision that “Our Hispanic neighbors will feel welcome and thrive in Church and society” the staff focuses on both presence and outreach to the Hispanic community. Through the United Way’s Community Support Grants to El Puente–Hispanic Ministry, the United Way of Central Missouri has provided a great boost toward achieving that vision.

Another client wrote, “I write this letter to thank El Puente. You have helped us a lot in interpretation as we only speak Spanish. You have helped us with visits to the doctor and with doctors’ bills especially when my husband, who is diabetic, had to go to the emergency room at the hospital. Thank you also for your service in providing home visits from a Health Educator. She is helping us with information on how to manage my husband’s diabetes. You have also helped us with transportation when we need to take our children for appointments with the pediatrician and the dentist. Thank you also for following up on our appointments. We feel treated with great respect and kindness.”

Three Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word founded El Puente–Hispanic Ministry in 1999 to serve as a “bridge” to help the Hispanic community in mid-Missouri cross over to better access to health care, faith experiences, educational opportunities and family life. They began a ministry of presence and outreach that continues to affect the lives of some of the most vulnerable members of the community.

During the past year, El Puente–Hispanic Ministry provided direct service to 361 people in 2,469 encounters in Cole and Moniteau counties. The agency served several hundred more people through Spanish language pastoral ministry activities. Two of the greatest needs addressed by El Puente–Hispanic Ministry are medical interpretation and transportation to appointments, primarily for women and children from families that struggle financially. United Way of Central Missouri has provided funds to help with the maintenance and fuel costs for the van used daily to take moms and children to their appointments. It has also supported the purchase of supplies needed by moms and newborns. This assistance has truly helped those struggling to make a new life in the United States and specifically in central Missouri feel welcome and supported. It encourages them in their efforts to make a better life for their children and to become productive members of the broader community. The support of the United Way of Central Missouri has been so valuable. While the Community Support Grant funds have been very helpful, the partnership with the United Way of Central Missouri continues to be a great source of encouragement in continuing this important work with and for the Hispanic community. Through its support of El Puente–Hispanic Ministry, the United Way of Central Missouri is helping Hispanic newcomers connect to the resources they need to have strong and healthy families that contribute to the quality of life for all in mid-Missouri.