As the days creep closer to October, Sunshine Haven Inc.’s executive director Veronica Lucio and board president George E. Olivo’s thoughts turn ever toward the looming funding gap their nonprofit faces each year from October to February.
The Olmito-based Sunshine Haven Inc., one of only three special care facilities licensed by the Valley, serves Cameron County and the surrounding area by offering free 24-hour end of life care for terminally ill patients and a comforting space for their loved ones to go through the process of saying goodbye.
The nonprofit is supported by grants like those of the Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation and the City of Brownsville and Harlingen’s Community Development Block Grants.
“We don’t charge the patients. We don’t charge the families. We don’t even charge insurance and so what we survive on to keep our doors open…is that we apply for grants and ask for the community’s donations. That’s how Sunshine Haven has survived for 21 years,” Lucio said.
However the city block grants, which specifically apply to each city’s respective citizens, are reimbursement grants, so while they refund the money the organization spends during the next 5 months, they need donations to cover the upfront costs until the HUD funds are released in February or March.
So as each car pulls up to the Brownsville Events Center on Saturday laden with supplies and monetary donations, volunteers from the Brownsville Junior Service League can’t help but cheer and wave their ‘thank you’ signs as the community steps forward for the nonprofit’s second annual drive-through donation event sponsored by OP 10.33.
COVID-19 has changed the way the organization can raise money from their usual Spirit of Giving gala and dinner which would normally bring in around $70,000, for now the organization has pivoted holding smaller, but more frequent socially-distanced events like these to try to cover their funding needs. For this particular event, special guests Brownsville City Commissioners Nurith Galonsky, Roy De Los Santos and supporter and doner Ruben Garcia came out to help drum up support and give thanks to those who came out to help.
Item donations like cases of bottled water, toilet paper and basic cleaning products to help sanitize the facility and provide some home comforts for residents help alleviate a lot of the costs the nonprofit would have to bear without community help.
For Cyndi Hinojosa, a new board member, each drop of supplies and donations touches a cause that is very near to her heart.
Six years ago, she and her family said goodbye to her father at Sunshine Haven. The remembrance of their care and kindness to her family as they spent their final moments with him still brings tears to her eyes years later.
“I just feel it needs to continue. If we don’t do this, they are in jeopardy of shutting their doors. It feels great to give back and I’ll do anything that I can. I think I called 50 or 60 people and I texted them to remind them to please give…because these people, they will give back and they will touch you somehow,” she said.
To get more information about Sunshine Haven Inc. or to donate you can call (956) 350-8400 or visit www.sunshinehaveninc.org.