Ministry At U.S./Mexican Border

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People living in border towns are typically some of the poorest in our nation. We take you to El Paso, Texas, where working mothers and those trying to educate themselves are finding hope and a helping hand. It’s all thanks to a century-old ministry.  (Español)

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Nohemy Ramirez is a mother of three, studying for a career in the medical field in hopes of providing a good life for them. But she cannot afford day care, and depends on a local ministry to help.

Nohemy Ramirez / Single Mother: “I have nobody else to take care of them so they are here for me. I’m a single mother and they help me out a lot.”

Ramirez relies on the Houchen Community Center, a 110-year-old outreach ministry of The United Methodist Church. Houchen offers something for everyone, infant to senior, at no charge – day care, tutoring, sewing classes, even after school activities.

Sylvia Arzola / Teacher: “We have a food pantry and a community center and a lot of parents receive food.”

The average educational level of those living on the Mexican side of the border near El Paso is fifth grade. A typical family of four tries to survive on less than $7,000 a year, and 90 percent of kids in Houchen’s programs have single mothers. In return, Houchen requires that the adult work or go to school.

Elsie Connor / Executive Director, Houchen Community Center: “We feel that this type of requirement helps many of them get off welfare, out of the food stamp line and, eventually, we try to help them become self-supporting.”

More than 350 people from both sides of the border rely on Houchen’s monthly food donations.

Nohemy Ramirez: “Whether you’re Christian, Catholic, Methodist, they all come together and it really is a good combination here.”

And for those like Nohemy Ramirez, this offers the ultimate gift of self-confidence and independence.


Houchen has served five generations of families from both sides of the border. Out of the hundreds of people utilizing its services, 120 are children.