A city of over 700,000 residents, San Antonio, Texas, was rapidly growing. However, with that growth, the city’s homeless population was also increasing. Brought together because of a desire to serve others, five San Antonio Presbyterian churches joined efforts and the San Antonio Urban Council was created.
Growing to provide health care, education, homelessness support, senior citizen support, and child care to low-income San Antonio families, the Council began programs like the Ella Austin Community Center, the Victoria Child Care Center, and Inner-City Development. Because of these programs, services offering youth recreation, health care, food banks, clothing, professional counseling and more became available to residents of both the inner city and the west side of San Antonio.
Expanding its reach, the Council became “San Antonio Urban Ministries,” in 1971 and grew to include 35 churches. Throughout the mid-1970s, the organization continued to assist communities, helping to find resources to support new programs. Reverend Kent C. Miller was named Executive Director, a term that would last over a decade, and under his leadership, the number of member churches continued to grow and a variety of new programs were initiated. Of these new programs, 7 emergency food pantries feeding approximately 600 clients were opened across the city.
In 1976, the Bridge program, now known as Roy Maas Youth Alternatives, was opened, providing emergency shelters for adolescent and teen boys, Two years later, the program expanded to include long term housing for young boys, and after a merger with Girlsville, long-term housing for young girls. From that point on, they were known as Youth Alternatives, Inc.
In 1977, Endeavors’ longest-running program, the Fairweather Lodge, began to support individuals discharged from the San Antonio State Hospital. “Jitney Services Inc.” a custodial and grounds maintenance business, was founded as a way to assist these former patients in learning basic skills necessary for living in society. Nearly two decades later, the program would see 35 residents living in 5 different lodges throughout the city.
By the 1980’s, the Urban Council, with partnership from Reverend Louis Zbinden of First Presbyterian Church and Reverend Jack Roen of St. Marks Episcopal Church, created the Christian Assistance Ministry. Christian Assistance Ministries began to supply clothing, counseling services, and food via a food pantry that would grow into what is now the San Antonio Food Bank.
Still focused on providing relief for those experiencing homelessness in San Antonio, the Urban Council joined forces with the Salvation Army in 1984 to provide health care and counseling for the homeless. The organization then began working with other churches to obtain an old hotel that would be used as a permanent facility for the homeless. From these efforts, the San Antonio Urban Council established San Antonio Metropolitan Ministry, more commonly known as SAMM.
In 1985, William Lucks became acting Executive Director and the organization grew to include 35 churches. During this time, After School Kare was established and placed in 14 schools across the city. Additionally, supplies, seed money, and proposal writing were donated to help get Habitat for Humanity off the ground in San Antonio.
In 1992, supportive employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities began through Endeavors Unlimited. Establishing partnerships with the Texas Workforce Commission and other work programs, Endeavors Unlimited became a way for adults with disabilities to have the opportunity to achieve a life full of stability, successes, and self-sufficiency.
By the turn of the century, San Antonio Urban Council had become a vital and versatile expression of human compassion in San Antonio. Directing its focus on the urban needs of the new millennium, it continued to serve as an umbrella agency for After School Kare and the Fairweather Lodge.
Continuing its mission to be a leading force in expanding greatly needed childcare and mental health programs while exploring unmet needs of the community, 2001 saw the breaking ground of a residential facility for the Fairweather Family Lodge. Similar to the other Fairweather program, the Fairweather Family Lodge was created to assist chronically homeless and mentally ill women and their children in creating a better life for themselves. In support of the program, San Antonio Urban Council became a United Way agency.
In the next six years, San Antonio Urban Council would expand the scope of the organization to cover supportive housing, job training, employment, case management, homeless prevention, group and individual counseling, and youth development services.
In 2007, San Antonio Urban Council was rebranded as San Antonio Family Endeavors.
In 2011, San Antonio Family Endeavors began receiving federal funding in an effort to end veteran homelessness while maintaining their support of vulnerable populations in several different categories, including migrant children.
By 2013, the organization had begun to offer emergency services, deploying the first group of reservists in support of caring and sheltering migrant children and had developed the Veteran Supportive Services program to prevent and rapidly re-house homeless Veterans and their families.
Seeing the expansion of services outside of San Antonio, the name of the company was shortened to Family Endeavors to reflect the geographical expansion.
Over the next several years, the Emergency Services program would see quick expansion, and in 2015, disaster case management was added to its list of services.
That same year, Supportive Services to Veteran Families programs expanded into other parts of Texas, as well as Alabama, Florida, and North Carolina, making Family Endeavors the largest provider of SSVF in the country.
Utilizing our experience serving Veterans, Family Endeavors expanded into mental health services for Veterans through a partnership with the Cohen Veterans Network. Opening the first Military Family Clinic in San Antonio in 2016, the next two years would see the expansion of the clinics into El Paso and Killeen.
In 2018, housing and community-based services expanded in North Carolina to provide shelter to homeless women and children. Through efforts with disaster recovery, border operations, and Veteran mental health clinics, Endeavors more than doubled the number of lives impacted from 16,224 in 2017 to over 44,000 in 2018. It was also in 2018 that Family Endeavors became simply “Endeavors.”
2020 and Beyond
Today, Endeavors continues to find ways to serve those in need, working hard to expand programs and services. In 2021, we expanded our migrant services line of service to help more families in need and opened the first of its kind Veteran Wellness Center in San Antonio to provide wrap-around services to the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Endeavors. Looking ahead, we’ll expand the Veteran Wellness Center model into El Paso and are looking into more locations nationwide.