A Brief History of Bienvenidos Outreach
Bienvenidos Outreach, originally founded by Beatrice Nevares, opened its doors in 1989, serving the homeless population. As the issue of hunger in New Mexico continued to grow, the food pantry expanded it operations in 1996 to include food boxes for those who needed help but were not homeless.
Food donations from local private donors, churches, supermarkets and the Food Depot have enabled us since the beginning to further our mission to help those in need in Santa Fe and the surrounding areas.
The Holiday Gift Program for Children is one of our most popular and heart-warming undertakings. Families on the food box program with children 12 and under apply and fill out “wish lists” for each registered child. We give these lists to numerous local churches and community organizations and they then buy a toy and clothing item for each child. Santa and his firefighter helpers arrive on a fire truck with the wrapped gifts and hand out the presents to the excited children. In December 2017 we organized the giving of 852 gifts to 426 children.
How We Help
THE HOMELESS – The homeless population continues to grow and Bienvenidos Outreach does what it can to help them. Mondays through Thursdays they can come to 1511 5th Street for a bag lunch and clothing. Many of them are transient, just passing through, but the word spreads quickly as to where they can find a meal, clothing, a sleeping bag, and personal care items.
THE FOOD PANTRY – In the fourth quarter of 2017, we prepared 3,823 food boxes and 3,148 lunches. With our economy continuing to struggle, we feel certain that we will see the number of new clients continue to grow. Clients may come in every two weeks to receive a box containing fresh vegetables and fruits, canned goods, meats, bread, pastry, and other essential staples to supplement their existing food supplies at home. These clients can also visit our clothing/household goods room and select a few items from our shelves.
THE WORKING POOR – This is a fast-growing segment of our clientele: families with at least one member in the workforce, but not making enough money to take care of all of their needs and sometimes having to choose between paying utility bills or putting food on the table. They are always welcome.
THE ELDERLY – The number of elderly citizens utilizing our services continues to increase. These are our neighbors, living on fixed incomes with funds that do not always last through the month. We are able to help them with food boxes, clothing, and household items to help make life a little easier.
THE CHILDREN – We have continued to secure grants and donations for our “Smart Kids” program which allows us to buy “kid-friendly” healthy snacks. Each household on the food box program may get one “snack bag” with each box every two weeks. As mentioned above, we happily organize Holiday gifts for children 12 and under.
THE HANDICAPPED – Many of our clients have disabilities which prohibit their ability to earn a living. They are always welcome to come for food and many of them will volunteer to help where they can in the preparation of lunches and food boxes.
GROUPS/ORGANIZATIONS THAT HELP
ELDORADO FARMERS’ MARKET – In 2009, Bienvenidos Outreach became the proud operator of the Eldorado Farmers’ Market under the direction of Susan Tarver, our Executive Director. Contributions of food and monetary donations from the vendors and customers have steadily increased over the years. The owners of LaTienda at Eldorado Shopping Center generously allow us to use their space for our market, a donation which sends the stall fees and other contributions directly to Bienvenidos Outreach. The food donations assist us in providing fresh, healthy foods to our clients. This Market is open every Friday from 3:30-6:30, mid-May through mid-October.
OUR BROTHERS’ KEEPER – A group of women from Los Alamos hand-sew sleeping bags, scarves, and hats and deliver them to Bienvenidos Outreach for distribution to the homeless. Our homeless clients rely on these donations to keep them warm in the evenings. We thank Our Brothers’ Keeper for their continued support and generosity.
THE SUFI CENTER – We hand out anywhere from 55 to 100+ lunches each day, Monday through Thursday. Our friends from The Sufi Center greatly help us with these lunches by making 160+ sandwiches each week. They have also continued to provide financial support for our “Smart Kids” program snack bags.
THE SANTA FE KNITTING CLUB – This group of dedicated knitters provides us with many, many hats and scarves during the winter months. Such seemingly simple items are so necessary and helpful for our homeless clients’ comfort and warmth, especially October through April.