Open Hands Community Charitable Services assistance programs.

The economy is still challenging, and the cost of living in Hidalgo County is rising steadily. Open Hands Community Charitable Services may be able to help people obtain public assistance or other forms of financial help, as the need for support is increasing.

For many households, rent, food, and their monthly energy bills alone often exceeds amounts provided by their income. Or it is more than a senior or disabled person gets from Social Security Disability (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Many new and nontraditional families, immigrants, as well as people who have just moved to the area, are having difficulty finding decent paying employment and are in desperate need of assistance. The Open Hands Community Center may be able to facilitate some type of assistance.

The charity provides referrals to government services and local non-profits. The information they provide is available in English as well as Spanish for those that need. While the focus of Open Hands Community staff is on linking clients to support services in Hidalgo County Texas, they also do operate a food pantry and can provide some other basic needs.

The goal of the Open Hands Community Charitable Services food pantry as well as related services, such as clothing, is to address a crisis. This then provides the family time so they can then transition to long term economic independence. The emergency services that may be provided are below. Then, the staff may also refer people to a variety of human resources offering housing, legal, health, public benefits and educational services.

A soup kitchen if for the hungry, homeless, children, and Hidalgo County families living in poverty. There may be hot meals served and the client will get referred to other programs too, such as the pantry.

Open Hands may also provide more short term stability from the food bank. There will be a bag of groceries for those families that qualify along with snacks for hungry children. The pantry may also have other items, such as cleaning supplies or hygiene items.

There is also a clothing closet / secondhand store. Some clients are given items for free, while others can shop there. There is gently used clothing and household items to persons and families in need.




Information on local government programs in Hidalgo County

The other main resource from Open Hands Community Charitable Services is the referrals. Staff from the organization can not only provide families with information on public assistance available to them, such as SNAP food stamps or LIHEAP for energy bills, but they can often help a person apply as well. More information is below.

Open for the entire county, the Open Hands Community Charitable Services can refer the the low income or immigrants to Community Clinics. Centers can help meet the immediate health needs of uninsured or uninsurable children as well as adults living in the Zip Codes that make up the service area.

A large number of families in Hidalgo County cannot afford private doctors on their own or do not qualify for Medicaid. Others are able to take an entire day off from their job in order to sit in the waiting room at the Hospital, so these individuals may be great candidates for the clinic.

There are professional staff of dentists, nurses, pharmacists, volunteer physicians and hygienists that all set their clinic schedules. While some fees may be due for some services, in other cases the  clinic is charging their patients nothing, and the medical and dental services are free.

Open Hands Community Charitable Services Emergency Services Division provides support on a limited basis to those that qualify. There may be referrals to programs for free food, shelter, or gently used clothing. Other assistance from charities in the region includes vouchers for prescription medications. The most limited is financial assistance with paying rent and utility bills, and all of this aid may be offered to low-income families and senior citizens.

When it comes to referrals, Open Hands can direct a family living in poverty to government grant programs, such as for paying energy bills. This is mostly covered by LIHEAP. However, there are many other options in Brownsville as well as Hidalgo County. The disabled, or their children, often sign up for SSI disability. They also direct low income, single parents to clothing, financial aid, diaper programs, and more.

School supplies as well as coats (including at winter) are distributed. While the age and program terms can change, in general kindergarten through fourth-grade students are eligible for this service. In order to receive supplies for the upcoming year (such as bookbags, notebooks, or uniforms), parents or guardians must provide photo identification of themselves. They also need the birth certificates or most recent report cards of their children. For kids entering kindergarten, parents or guardians may provide registration papers.





Three to five-year-old children from income-eligible families or immigrants to Hidalgo County can enroll into Head Start. This is a free program offering comprehensive preschool services. Open Hands Community Charitable Services and partners are involved in promoting the educational and social development of young children, both with and without disabilities. Strong emphasis is placed on preparing children to enter kindergarten.

The Hidalogo County curriculum stresses the importance of gaining good social skills and participating in group activities, while also focusing on vital educational programming. Head Start can take place either in a home or center-based setting. In some cases, free transportation is provided in some cities, such as McAllen Texas. The center based service also gives free healthy breakfasts, lunches, and snacks. In addition, we also host family nights, parent groups, and more.

The Head Start Home Base option involves regular home visits that focus on and support the parents as the children's main educators. Open Hands also promotes and supports the healthy functioning of families.

For more information on their programs, or to get referrals, dial Open Hands Community Charitable Services at 956-461-6920. The main center is at 301 S 17th St, Donna, Texas 78537.




By Jon McNamara

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