The Journey Continues: Ruben Garza
My journey continued this week with a visit to Ruben Garza, the executive director of the Southside Community Center.
Born in McAllen, Texas and graduated from Southwest Texas State with a major in political science and minor in history.
“My first employment after college graduation was on the staff of State Senator Barrientos at his office here in San Marcos.
“I am following the journey of my father who was employed by the Texas Workforce Commission with a concentration on migrant labor. I accompanied him during his visits to farms and witnessed working conditions and life styles which became important to my world view.
“My father taught me the value of work by picking vegetables and cotton and unloading cargo from semitrucks. I have slept on a coach and ate beans. Now, I am like my father – helping people.”
For the past 32 years Ruben Garza has been the executive director of Southside Community Center, a nonprofit organization that is a proud affiliate of the United Methodist Church.
SSCC provides programs that include: (1. Homeless shelter and food (2. Emergency assistance (3. Housing for low-income and elderly and (4. Neighborhood housing improvement.
His forte is affordable housing for the elderly and services and shelter for the homeless. For over 20 years, Southside has sponsored campers from all over the country who come to Summer Work Camps with the mission of improving existing homes belonging to the poor, disabled or elderly in San Marcos. Under his leadership 800 private homes have been upgraded. Affordable senior housing was encouraged at Sunrise Village, Asbury Place and La Vista.
But the homeless shelter is at the heart of Garza’s ministry.
“I try to reach the core of a homeless person’s problem – which I describe as a bullet with no target,” Garza said.
Community oriented, he served as the first Hispanic president on the SMCISD school board, was a founding member of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, a Rotary member, a Youth Service Bureau member and part of the Blanco River Regional Recovery Group. His church membership is at First United Methodist Church and he is a proud father of Kathryn, a second-year law student at University of Texas.
His Life Verse is:
“For God so loved the world
that He gave his only son
that whosoever believes in him will not perish but have
This verse provides a spiritual compass for his demanding journey.