Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church


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Palmer Place Series: Chapter 2, The Placement Team Connects People to Palmer Place Apartments

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When a family has a serious diagnosis that requires travel to Houston for specialized medical care, one of the first things they have to do is find a place to stay. Many of them call the Houston Church Apartment Ministry, which is housed at South Main Baptist church and staffed by volunteers from participating churches who populate information into a database of families needing housing.

When a Palmer Place Ministry apartment becomes available, it is the Palmer Placement Team’s job to comb through the database to find a match. “It’s a very rewarding job; it’s like telling people they won the lottery! Everyone is so grateful,” said Rita Justice, a member of the Palmer Placement team for the last 5 years.

Rita, now a member of the Vestry, had been attending services at Palmer for about a year at the time and was marginally involved in the greater church life when she saw a Palmer Place Ministry ad in the church bulletin looking for volunteers. The work required only about an hour of time each month so it was a good prospect for Rita whose husband was ill and required her attentive care.

As a member of the Placement Team, Rita works the list, calling families to find out if they still need a place to stay. When she finds a match, she provides details about the apartment and tells them that Palmer Place Ministry Leader Sandra Begalke will be calling them soon to confirm arrangements.

Thelma Hunt is the other member of the Palmer Placement team, and acts as Rita’s back-up. Thelma is also a member of the Palmer Church Office Volunteer Ministry, answering the phone, greeting visitors and assisting with office administrative tasks on Thursday afternoons. As a member of the Palmer Placement team, she works the Church Apartment Ministry phone bank at South Main Baptist once a month and gets to be on both ends of the search. At the start, the families are very stressed, and at the end, they are relieved and delighted. She once had the opportunity to offer an apartment to a gentleman she had talked to weeks previously in an intake interview. “Do you remember me?” she asked. “I have an apartment for you!”

Thelma has been working with the Palmer Place Apartments Ministry for about three years and like Rita, she became involved after seeing an ad in the church bulletin. She enjoys being around people who are so dedicated to helping others. Although they don’t meet with the families personally, the Placement Team members get to follow their clients’ progress through team emails, and they pray for them during their medical journey here in Houston.

Rewarding work indeed that makes such a positive difference for people in need!