By Jacob Sanchez
While the churches of Quay County may have varying denominations, church leaders agree poverty is a problem.
Quay County beats the state average with 25.8 percent of its population in poverty, according to the United States Census Bureau. New Mexico has 21.4 percent in poverty.
“There are a lot of people in Tucumcari, who are not passing through they live here, but they are in desperate status as far as their situation for whatever reason,” Center Street United Methodist Church Pastor John Barrett said.
Tucumcari’s Methodist Church runs several ministries to help the poor. One is the Ministry of H.O.P.E. (Helping Others Prosper Eternally); Barrett is on the board of directors.
Ministry of H.O.P.E. is run by volunteers and reliant on donations. Doyle Frasier is the leader of Ministry of H.O.P.E.
“God wants me to do this,” he said. “I’m retired, been retired for 11 years. I have nothing else to do but this. I want to help the people.”
When someone visits Ministry of H.O.P.E., they receive two cards: an orange card and blue card. The orange card has months on it so volunteers can keep track of visits. Families are allotted one visit per month. The blue card tells volunteers the number of household members and their names.
These cards are also how the ministry keeps track of the number of customers and families they help. In June, Ministry of H.O.P.E. helped 302 customers and 821 individual family members, according to data provided by the ministry.
“We don’t ask questions,” Frasier said. “When they come in and they say they need something they get it, if they’re needy.”
Frasier and his volunteers have worked on average 410.5 hours per month since January. Last month, they worked 446 hours.
Poverty is an issue that the Catholic Church takes seriously to achieve social justice. That’s the case in Quay County as well, said Rev. Hyginus Anuta of St. Anne’s Catholic Church.
“To alleviate the problems of the poor in Quay County we have the St. Vincent de Paul Society; we also have the Knights of Columbus; we also have the church,” Anuta said. “We do a lot of visitations to understand what they need. Sometimes I take my own initiative to help those people.”
Like Ministry of H.O.P.E., the St. Vincent de Paul Society is run by volunteers and reliant on donations. The St. Vincent de Paul Society is a non-denominational charity.
“We’re here to help the poor,” St. Vincent de Paul thrift store manager Arlene Fry said.
The St. Vincent de Paul Society has a thrift store where anyone can shop. The items within the store are all donations. While many of these items will be purchased, some will be donated to help people during a time of crisis (i.e. a house fire).
The organization also gives vouchers for food, utilities and some transportation needs, but not rental costs. To qualify for these services, people must provide identification and proof of address.
Often Fry and her six volunteers talk to people to understand their needs.
In a month, St. Vincent de Paul will help 150 to 200 people; that number increases during the winter, Fry said.
“Jesus said you’ll always have the poor with you; pretty clear right out of the gospel,” Barrett said. “So if we think there’s some program or ministry that’s going to solve the problem, it’s not. We’re always going to have those people with us. We just need to have an eye to see where we can help.”