Memorial Assistance Ministries is growing and plans to open its new Heights campus in July. It will include a 1,900 square foot resale store.

The Spring Branch-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization is looking for volunteers to staff the store and take on other roles. Ahead of the soft opening in July, MAM needs 35-45 volunteers to sort, hang and price merchandise, work as cashiers and help with other tasks.

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“Due to new operations, we need to build a whole new team,” said Sonja Gee, President and CEO of MAM. “So it’s a huge need that we have. And then we’re always looking for people who really want to give back to the community.

MAM is focused on building strong families, a vibrant workforce, and active communities. He currently serves families in 17 Northwest Houston ZIP Codes in a variety of areas including employment services, financial assistance, and mental health counseling.

According to a presentation by MAM, the association helped more than 13,000 families in 2021, for a total of more than 29,000 people. Gee explained that the volunteers are well trained to be successful in their role.

The entire Heights campus will be 5,000 square feet in size and will be located at 1021 E. 11th St. The resale store will provide area families with a place to shop for affordable clothing, household items, electronics, books, jewelry and other items. The flagship store is located in Spring Branch at 1625 Blalock Road and offers the same items plus furniture.

Funds from resale store sales support MAM programs and services.

Gee explained that it can be difficult to find enough volunteers for the summer months because many people are traveling or involved in other activities. But she said MAM has a wide range of roles where people can support others in their community. One of the needs is to help with ESL summer classes.

Some other volunteer opportunities include working as a job coach or in administrative duties. Volunteers can serve on their own schedule: once a week, twice a week, or just drop by with friends once every few months.

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MAM has invested in its infrastructure during the pandemic. Nearly all of its services are available virtually now, so clients traveling to the Heights location will still have access to programs like mental health and immigration services.

The Basic Needs and Benefits program provides assistance with rent and utilities, helps clients through emergencies, and helps them register for benefits. Gee said many families in Houston struggle to find affordable housing. Some earning $20,000 or $30,000 a year and spending 50% or more of their salary on housing face very difficult choices.

Gee said it’s also helpful to educate customers about the benefits. “Part of that helps them sign up for the benefits, but a lot of it also helps them understand how to use them and how to use them well.” The benefits, Gee said, can give families a stronger foundation to stand on while paving the way for a more financially secure future.

MAM tries to help families by encouraging them to learn skills that will produce wages to be better prepared to provide for their families in a more sustainable way. Financial coaching, for example, teaches clients how to manage their resources more effectively. When many people lost their jobs during the pandemic and some jobs did not come back, MAM helped clients prepare for employment, such as learning how to write resumes and job skills to land jobs in high demand with higher wages.

During the pandemic, MAM invested in its infrastructure. Almost all of its services are now available virtually
making it easier to access for customers who may not have benefited from it before.

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Gee encouraged community members to consider financially supporting MAM for its fiscal responsibility and transparency, adding that 90 cents of every dollar donated goes directly to programming.

“But more than that, I just think we’re able to have a really big impact in our community at the grassroots level,” she said.

At this time, MAM is also collecting clothing, household items, electronics, books, jewelry, and other items for the Heights Resale Shop. Donations can be dropped off 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at the Donation Center at 1625 Blalock Road.

Blalock’s flagship store is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

For more information on Memorial Assistance Ministries, visit www.mamhouston.org.