Cynthia Perez attended LLFC in February 2016. “I was surprised when my family was chosen,” she said, adding that she could hardly believe the sense of peace she felt in the Canyon. “I felt thrilled, like I was in a palace!” she said. “I didn’t have to worry about what our next meal was going to be or how I was going to get it. “I always tell my kids we are a team, and Family Camp was when our team came back together.”
Another parent who attended Family Camp through Good Samaritan said that it “brought us a little closer. We are at a better understanding with one another. The kids are more curious about Jesus and the Bible.”
Good Samaritan continues to serve these same families once they leave Family Camp, in an ongoing effort to help them escape poverty. It is no small task. The Center sits in one of the poorest zip codes in San Antonio, where over 40% of families live in poverty. For a family of four, that means living on less than $25,000 per year.
“Our solution is to solve the problem one kid at a time, one family at a time,” said William Hileman, chairman of the board of directors. “If you want to measure success, look at the number of people who want to come back and work [at Good Samaritan]. They come back as board members, employees, and donors.”
That is what Ramon Aparacio has done. He started coming to Good Samaritan in the first grade to play basketball after school. Now a graduate of Lanier High School and a second-year student at St. Philip’s College, Aparacio said he wouldn’t have made it to college without his experience at Good Samaritan. The staff even helped him apply for schools and financial aid. “I’m not very good in dictionary skills,” Aparacio said laughing, “so there was lots of stuff they helped me with.”
Now that he is succeeding in school, Aparacio wants to help others. “I felt so good about what they did that I wanted to give back to others like they give to me,” he said. “That’s why I’m here.”
“I like it here, too,” said one of his third-grade campers, Xavier Tellez. “There’s so many things to do, and the staff, they like to do activities with you.” Tellez, Aparacio, and several others settle into an intense game of Knockout on the basketball court.
Inspired by his counselor, Tellez is deeply engaged. If he and his friends keep up the good behavior and consistent attendance, they will experience all that Good Samaritan has to offer, including a partnership retreat at Laity Lodge Family Camp.