EHF’s Grantee SPOTLIGHT: Hope and healing through health benefits at Memorial Assistance Ministries

See how helping families address health challenges and navigate a complex health system made a difference in the health and well-being of a Houston-area teen and his family.

Sitting in class, Luis could feel the eyes of what seemed like ALL of the students staring directly at him. He was not only new to his Houston-area middle school, but new to the U.S. and Texas. Soon, the looks turned into taunts and teasing. Students kept making fun of the physical difference in Luis’ ear. 

Luis arrived in Houston as an unaccompanied minor and his grandmother, Mrs. Garcia, became his legal guardian. Luis experienced difficulties adjusting to the new culture and routines, and his grandmother started to notice that Luis was withdrawing socially. During a meeting with his school counselor, she learned that Luis was being bullied by classmates because of his ear.  

That’s when the school referred the family to Memorial Assistance Ministries (MAM). Among its many programs, MAM has a team of experts that connect Harris Country residents like Luis to basic needs and health benefit services.  

A MAM advocate specializing in health services introduced Luis and his family to Harris Health’s “Gold Card” program. A Gold Card isn’t health insurance, but it offers financial assistance to qualified families with low incomes to help them receive discounted pricing for medical visits at hospitals and clinics in Harris Health’s system.  

With MAM’s guidance, Mrs. Garcia learned Luis could receive a prosthetic ear at a reduced cost. She recently shared the uplifting news that Luis is scheduled for surgery. 

“Access to health and health care services is a fundamental right,” says Dr. Ann Barnes, EHF’s president and CEO. “It’s crucial for building healthy communities.”

Since 2015, EHF has invested more than $1.9 million in grants to MAM for a variety of programs, including the important work to connect people with few resources to health-related benefits. 

For Luis and his grandmother, it’s a connection that changed the direction of Luis’ start in the U.S. by making an immediate impact on his health and well-being.  

More About Memorial Assistance Ministries (MAM)  Since 1983, MAM, a Houston-based nonprofit, has been offering life-changing support to under-resourced families. MAM’s programs focus on building financially stable families, a stronger workforce, and vibrant communities. They empower families by breaking down barriers to health by providing a range of services that tackle both medical-related issues and broader social challenges. MAM’s work demonstrates a commitment to EHF’s goal ensuring that all Texans have the opportunity for a healthier life.