UTPA Report: ARCH helping families keep their homes


POSTED: Friday, May 17, 2013 - 8:54am

UPDATED: Monday, May 20, 2013 - 6:20am

Five business majors at The University of Texas-Pan American are proud of a class project that's helping Valley families on the verge of losing their homes due to financial difficulties. The students partnered with a non-profit organization whose goal is to advocate for those struggling and protect them from homelessness. Here's Sandra Quintanilla with this week's News Center 23 report.

Single parent Cariño Saldana feels blessed to be in the comfort of her own home. The mother of three young children says she nearly lost her McAllen residence recently when she was laid off from work. But, she says thankfully a non-profit organization called Advocacy Resource Center for Housing known as ARCH came to her rescue. ARCH helps qualified families pay their monthly rent if they fall behind due to unforeseen circumstances.

Cariño Saldana, ARCH funding recipient, "The ARCH program has helped my family out tremendously. If it wasn't for them, my children and I probably would have already be homeless. They helped us get back on track."

ARCH leaders say they will be able to reach out to more families in need thanks to the work of these UTPA students assigned a service learning project in their Business Consulting Practicum Course. The group of five revised the organization's current personnel policy manual as well as researched and included additional guidelines required by federal and state regulations. The undergraduates also developed a volunteer handbook. All their work will help ARCH reduce the risks associated with outdated information and increase its chances to being awarded grants to keep Valley residents like Cariño from losing their homes.

Janie Maldonado, ARCH Executive Director, "Grants are looking that organizations have this type of structure in place and if they see consistency, if they see formality, they're more apt to fund us and therefore if we receive more funding then our clients will have more assistance and long term you know will prevent homelessness in the long run."

Instructor Jody Nelsen, wife of UTPA President Robert Nelsen, says this project is not only benefiting ARCH but her students as well.

Jody Nelsen, Business Consulting Practicum Course Instructor, "Many of these students are hoping to go into human resources management and so they learned to research federal regulations in order to make sure that the policies are up to date and written correctly, it's critical, absolutely critical."

Although it was a class project, the students say it was a rewarding experience knowing they're making a difference.

Anaiza Gonzalez, Business Major, "I feel very good that we're able to contribute to this organization since it's so small. Maybe our work is going to help them outsource as well like get more grants and get more benefit out of this."

I'm Sandra Quintanilla reporting for UTPA and News Center 23.


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