Local

Group helping make huge strides in Houston's East End

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

As part of ABC13's recognition of National Hispanic Month, we'll be featuring a series of reports focusing on the Hispanic community. In this one, we're introducing you to a special community center making huge strides in the East End.

This organization has been helping the community of Houston's East End for decades, but its CEO hopes the expansion of a new program will help break the cycle of poverty.

In a classroom upstairs at the Community Family Center, more than a dozen adult students learn English, hoping for a better job. At the same time outside, seniors drive through the food fair line for fresh produce. On a fixed income, the Louisons have been enrolled in the program for a year and a half now.

"It substitutes our groceries. We eat healthier, we're eating fresh vegetables and fruits," said Betty Louison, who's benefiting from the programs.

The main focus of the Community Family Center in the East End, though, is breaking the cycle of poverty. Plans to expand their Montessori school program from 40 preschoolers to 80 will broaden their reach.

"What we have seen, is that those in our three-year program, most of them will end up with a second-grade level in reading an math," Community Family Center CEO Maritza Guerrero said.

Guerrero says preschool programs are a prevention to poverty for a growing demographic of Houston that still lacks in education.

"We know that the Hispanic community is growing in number, but the level of educational attainment is the lowest. So if we give them the fundamentals and a good start, these kids within one generation, will have changed their circumstances," Guerrero said.

Computers and gymnasiums also supplement their after school and summer programs. It's a mission to turn around the academics in the East End community that will changes the futures of families.

"And they will have gone and literally broken the cycle of poverty. So it just takes one generation to break it and then they help their families," Guerrero said.

Now the Community Family Center has just celebrated its 40th anniversary, serves about 800 seniors a week. They expect to begin construction on the new Montessori school in the coming weeks.

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