After 40 years, Memorial Assistance Ministries continues to make a difference

Nick Natario Image
Wednesday, September 13, 2023
MAM organization continues to make a difference after decades
ABC13 Localish visits the Energy Corridor, where thousands have received help from the Memorial Assistance Ministries for 40 years.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- As the prices of goods increase, an organization that's helped the Memorial area for 40 years means more than ever to some neighbors.

Walk into Memorial Assistance Ministries off Blalock, and Saray Naranjo could be the first person you see.

"MAM is an agency that has a cocktail of programs and services that really give you very good guidance about all the basic needs that you have," Naranjo explained.

It's an assistance Naranjo knows firsthand, as she and her family fled Venezuela five years ago.

"We were looking for a better life for our families," Naranjo recalled. "In 2018, we decided to come here and apply for a visa."

Naranjo said her family struggled in Houston, but that changed when she found the Memorial Assistance Ministries.

She learned English, found a job, and took part in a program to help manage finances.

"MAM gives you a treatment that makes you feel special that you can get it," Naranjo said. "You can have access to benefits."

SEE RELATED: MAM resale shop instrumental in changing 25,000 lives last year

Those services are mainly free thanks to the resale store, and it's a need MAM president Sonja Gee said is growing.

"Just in our area, rent has increased around 25% over the last couple of years, and people's wages haven't kept up with that," Gee explained.

This year alone, MAM has distributed $100,000 worth of clothing vouchers. It also has language classes, ways to find jobs, and financial coaches to help people manage money.

"We sit down with them, and it's looking at where we're spending and are their areas we can save in," Gee said. "It's really understanding what a credit score is and how that can be approved."

Naranjo said these services changed her life and continue to make a difference. The agency gave her a front desk job as she studies and looks for employment.

It's a position she feels is a perfect fit. "I am proof of what MAM can do for anybody that comes visit us," Naranjo said.

She works at MAM's welcome center, pointing people in the right direction to programs she knows make a difference.

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