“to improve the quality of life throughout the community by helping people help themselves.”
Casa de Amigos was begun in 1964 by members of St. Mark’s Methodist Church as a community outreach to the east side of Midland. The group first surveyed the area to establish the need, then initiated programming in a small, run-down grocery store building on North Dallas Street. The program became ecumenical in approach when members of other churches were invited to serve on the Board of Directors. The first President of the Board was Kathryn Tyra.
With professional planning and program activities offered for the community, the often overcrowded quarters at Casa de Amigos’ small building resulted in a second site and then a third building to combine the first two sites before the current location, 1101 East Garden Lane donated anonymously in 1978.
Casa de Amigos was accepted, and has been approved annually since 1973, as a United Way of Midland member agency (now program provider) with approximately one-fourth of its funding coming from this source. Overall funding increased significantly in the early eighties with the approval of grant monies from several foundations. A large multi-
year grant from the Texas Education Agency for year-round Family Literacy and a merger with Citywide Community Services, a weekly homemaker service for low-income elderly and disabled, in 1993 increased both program and funding possibilities.
Two very generous grants, in 1984 and 1988 by The J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation of Tulsa, Oklahoma, allowed for remodeling of the agency’s building and expansion to its present size of nearly 20,000 square feet. This includes a library with five individual tutoring rooms, four classrooms, a family life education center equipped with a teaching kitchen, a child care area, senior citizen activities area with a serving kitchen and two activity rooms, space for health, a receiving room for social services’ food and clothing items plus individual offices for administrative and program staff.
Casa de Amigos’ outreach has helped many people through the years. Currently, nearly 4,000 people are served annually. Agency programs are grouped in four categories: Senior Services, Health & Wellness and Education and Social Services. Employed staff and volunteers serve side-by-side to offer programs for anyone who desires assistance. An underlying philosophy has evolved which encourages practical education and self-help activities. The current Board President is Karmen Bryant and the Executive Director is Tonya Eckert.
The main focus of Casa de Amigos continues to be “Helping People Help Themselves.”