Palacios is a community on the Texas Gulf Coast known for its rich history along with its incredibly diverse population and agricultural resources. However, issues in rising crime rates, drug trafficking and more have arisen in Palacios over the past decades, in no small part due to lingering poverty, unemployment and insufficient public transportation resources in the city. Following the work of the Rural Literacy Coalition, over the past 10 years, the Palacios Hub has brought together various community organizations and resources to address these issues through community outreach and collaboration. These efforts have been guided by the goal of reducing “the issues caused by poverty and provid[ing] equity of services and programs available to Palacios families of all racial backgrounds and socio-economic backgrounds.”
Connecting with an extensive collection of community partners, the Palacios Hub has continued to discover the needs of impoverished and underserved community members. These needs often center on education, housing and concerns related to health and wellness. Through collaboration with organizations and initiatives like Community in Schools, Early Childhood Interventions (ECI) and First Book Matagorda County, the Palacios Hub has delivered countless resources to children who otherwise would not have access to the food, school supplies, clothing, emotional support, individualized attention and more that they need to be successful in school. Complementing these collaborations is the relationship between the Palacios Hub and the Palacios Independent School District, which has provided technological resources necessary to track children’s development and progress through their educational experiences.
Beyond education, the Palacios Hub has developed strategic relationships with community partners to address housing and health needs felt by many in Palacios. One such relationship exists with the Palacios Wellness Council, which specifically focuses on treating the mental and physical health of all community members. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Palacios Hub assisted the Palacios Wellness Council in making masks for local medical centers, delivering postcards to shut-ins and senior citizens, distributing pandemic information communications, and coordinating donations of disinfectants and other necessary supplies. In response, the Palacios Wellness Council’s Gratitude Project distributed over 800 books to children in the community and facilitated intergenerational connection throughout the city.
Parents as Teachers
Another innovative approach to challenges presented by poverty and unemployment in Palacios has been Parents as Teachers (PAT). PAT “promotes the optimal early development, learning and health of children by supporting and engaging their parents and caregivers” through integrating educational experiences within familial contexts for children, parents and caregivers. Led by a full-time supervisor/educator and a part-time educator, this initiative has shown promise and hopes to expand its work to incorporate even more families in the years to come.