The side I saw in Marion
By Cassandra H. Martinez, communications coordinator
You see the girl in the picture on the right with the white t-shirt and toothbrush – that’s me. My first encounter at Methodist Healthcare Ministries wasn’t in 2015 when I became a team member, it was actually in 2002. I was eight years old and the setting was School Based Health Center at Krueger Elementary. At first, I knew little of all the amazing ways Methodist Healthcare Ministries served its communities, but I was about to go on a journey that would open my eyes to every side of the organization.
My mom was the first person to introduce me to Methodist Healthcare Ministries. She has been faithfully serving as a front office supervisor at School Based Health Center since 2002 to ensure the pediatric primary health care and dental services the clinic offers are compassionately provided to children enrolled in the Marion and Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City Independent School Districts. When I was young, she would bring me along to help at community events the clinic hosted. I have so many memories of volunteering at the clinic, but my fondest were the annual back-to-school fairs. We would get there early and start organizing school supplies — backpacks, crayons, pencils, paper, notebooks — you name it! We took up a whole conference room and created an assembly line for children to come through and fill up their new backpacks. The line usually went out the door and wrapped around the clinic with families eager to get their children’s school supplies. From little ones starting their early education to juniors and seniors in high school, no one left without receiving what they needed. Hearing kids ask excitedly, “Is this my backpack? I get to keep it?” and telling them yes warmed my heart. At the end of the day, we typically filled about 200 backpacks for each child in need.
I thought, “Wow, how great that an organization could be this committed to serving their community!” Seeing that commitment to service from an early age inspired me to join Methodist Healthcare Ministries and make it a part of my future. Fast forward to 2015 —when I became a team member I was overwhelmed with happiness to know the impact I’d seen at School Based Health Center didn’t stop there.
Growing up, I had been exposed to the health care services side of our organization and the ways our clinics provide medical, dental and behavioral health services to patients in need. I hadn’t yet learned about our grant-making and advocacy side. My jaw dropped during our new hire orientation at the fact that we offer services in 74 counties across South Texas, and help more than 90 organizations across those counties better provide health care services to those in need. Through advocacy, we increase the public’s understanding of how health care policies can affect their communities. We also educate policy-makers on policy challenges in an effort to increase access to quality health care services for others.
Since my journey with Methodist Healthcare Ministries began almost three years ago, my eyes have been opened and my heart filled to see all the important ways our organization makes a lasting difference across South Texas. While I don’t directly work with patients, I know my purpose is to share the stories of team members who’ve dedicated themselves to improving the physical, mental and spiritual health of the least served. I think each team member has met a side of Methodist Healthcare Ministries that has left a mark in their hearts. The side I saw in Marion was only one piece of the organization. It shaped a new way of thinking for me – that serving those who need you the most can be done in many ways. As I look to the future, I’m excited to learn more through telling the powerful stories of how Methodist Healthcare Ministries fulfills its mission of “Serving Humanity to Honor God.”