Healthcare Services for Homeless and Impoverished Elderly Persons

Healthcare Services for Homeless and Impoverished Elderly Persons

Puerto Rico
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
$500,000 - $1 million
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

 More than a place, we wanted a home for an elderly population, abandoned in the streets, so medical care, shelter and food can be provided for their last years of their lives.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The Home is providing its main service of health screening, monitoring and follow up through our main nurse. He is also the supervisor for the main floor of our Home. At his time his wages are covered by the local government but they will cease next November. We are in need of at least finding payment of 10 hours weekly for 6 months, at $20.00. With your grant we will cover one tenth of his 40 hours hoping to find the rest through other grants.
About You
Hogar María del Carmen, Inc.
Section 1: About You
First Name


Last Name


Website URL
Section 2: About Your Organization
Organization Name

Hogar María del Carmen, Inc.

Organization Phone

7878684063 7875897065

Organization Address

PO Box 910 Aguada, PR 00602

Organization Country
Your idea
Country your work focuses on
What makes your idea unique?

Listening to the founder, Carmen Villanueva, a nurse, it was divine intervention. Divine, not only because she believes in a cause, but because it moved her heart, mind and soul to do something for them. Since the beginning, the Home provides services 24 hours a day, seven days a week, free of charge. We also provide day care services and also “Meals on Wheels” which program was closed by the local government. We started out serving our town, and then we end up serving the Western area of the Island. Now we receive calls from any place in Puerto Rico. For example, San Juan, the capital, 80 miles East, we receive referrals through the Rio Piedras Medical Center.

Do you have a patent for this idea?

What impact have you had?

Our impact can be measured in three areas: infrastructure, community and service. Since 1996 we had moved three times, having to pay rent more and more every year. It was not until 2007 that the actual building that we occupy was given to us by the Catholic Church, San Francisco de Asís Parish, which originally, was donated from parishioners to the priests in charge, from the Order of St. Augustine. This building is bigger, closer to downtown and more accessible to the community. In terms of community, our Home is well known for a solid commitment to the welfare of its elderly homeless population. Well respected by the community, people from all areas cooperate in a monthly basis, with cash donations, in-kind donations and as volunteers for the home and the activities. We carry that proudly and it gives us a desire to work harder everyday. And last but not least, the impact attained with the service. It relates directly with the community. At this moment we are at full capacity, with some people on a waiting list. Our participants are getting the attention they need and they are getting better everyday. Some of them have become active in daily chores at the Home and other activities. This is a clear indicator of the impact of the services provided everyday.


We started out with a strategic plan that allowed us to rethink and evaluate what we have been doing and put in writing other risky ideas to work with for our immediate future. One of those risky ones is to permanently have a small income type of business –like a plant nursery- that can generate all year round income to cover the daily and monthly dues and sometimes to have some petty cash at home. That will eliminate the need of having small activities during the year and keep the big ones. The strategic plan also talks about keeping specific activities not only because they are big, or generate good income, but because they have strong cultural and idiosyncratic ties. Another aspect is to keep those ties with our sponsors and other institutions that allow us to share what we have, even sharing ideas, when a new institution is about to open, like that of a social coalition.


Although sometimes we feel overwhelmed because of the fundraising activities our success stands well enough because of the participation of the members of the community. Volunteers are always active and they are not only the ones registered. We also have our own relatives or the participants’ relatives, members of the Board of Directors and even participants of our Home that are feeling well enough physically and willingly to do something. But, the direct results expected of the actions aforementioned have to do with a more solid and independent institution economically, thus providing a much better service every year.

What will it take for your project to be successful over the next three years? Please address each year separately, if possible.

By 2010, we expect to have a better infrastructure not only because of the building but because of the equipment. We are currently trying to have updated computers, laptops, EKG machines, and other medical equipments, especially to be used in the field. This year, we became part of Facebook, so by next year we will be better known not only within our area, but abroad. By 2011, we hope our main small business project will be not only up but running with profitable results. By 2012, we are sure that our population will have grown, so a new area will be in its way to be added to the building for more beds and a bigger office. In terms of personnel, we actually have six Americorp*Vista volunteers, which number, hopefully, will increase as well.

What would prevent your project from being a success?

What comes to mind when we think about ways of improving our lives, we move towards our inner self, especially nowadays. A great satisfaction grows within us as we particularly start to experience peace. That voyage to the center of ourselves is a journey of “peeling” the things we need to peel, as we are working our way in like we peel an onion. There is a journey to the center of our neighbors too. Our equals, our next to us people, who maybe never, had the chance to find peace. And when we take this particular journey into the lives of others, we start to feel fear and pain, but the satisfaction in finding peace for the one next to us is greater. I do not think that our project will be prevented by anything to be a success. We strive to do our best in quality of life and that, comes within us not only because we are good in nature but because that flame of love that moves the whole universe was given to us as a Gift. Even when there are times that we may not have the strength or the desire to continue, someone next to us will take over and continue.

How many people will your project serve annually?


What is the average monthly household income in your target community, in US Dollars?

$100 ‐ 1000

Does your project seek to have an impact on public policy?


What stage is your project in?

Operating for more than 5 years

In what country?
Is your initiative connected to an established organization?


If yes, provide organization name.

Comité Pro Ayuda al Necesitado, San Francisco de Asís Catholic Parish

How long has this organization been operating?

More than 5 years

Does your organization have a Board of Directors or an Advisory Board?


Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with NGOs?


Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with businesses?


Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with government?


Please tell us more about how these partnerships are critical to the success of your innovation.

Although we do not have partnership in the strict sense we do hold very good relationships with businesses and government. As part of our community we are able not only to reach more, and be known more, but to do more. We strive for leaving a strong mark to our population that actually sets a direction of a group of human beings helping each other and walking towards the same goal: the pursuit of happiness and equality for everybody.

What are the three most important actions needed to grow your initiative or organization?

We are working harder to improve our volunteers program, our sustainability and a solid working environment. We have strong ties with the school system and the program is shifting its direction into getting more students. Participation and collaboration not only benefits us but gives the students back a sense of responsibility towards society, its needs and its values. We are very happy with it and we hope to get more and more every year. As we mentioned before, we included in our strategic plan, the need of having a small business that can generate income on a daily basis. To sustain ourselves economically, we have, at this time, two ideas which are waiting for discussion and approval by the Board of Directors: one is a plant nursery and the other one is a mini cafeteria, or better known in our country as a “kiosko”, where we may sell fritters, sandwiches, water, soda, etc.. Our third action needed to help grow our innovation has to do with our staff. We all need to have clear and new ideas, so we can keep up with the times and the world around us. Workshops, talks so we can learn what is new. Also regular evaluations with everybody is needed, especially asking for their feedback. It is not only important, but necessary; it makes grow an environment of team work, everybody has in mind the same goal and when one stops, the other one continues.

The Story
What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?

“ 1995… three of these homeless died alone. One died in a bathroom facility at the beach; the other one, died under the bridge at road 115 close to the Culebrinas’ river and the third one died dehydrated trapped in a big hole, who couldn’t find its way out...” . This is how one of our colaborators described the original situation in our community that moved our founder to pursuit this idea, back in 1995. As stated in El Nuevo Día, local newspaper, at the beginning of this year, 43.6% withing the Island, of 60 years old or more, live under poverty. With this statistic and what we were looking at in 1995, there is no much difference. This is what is still moving us now to continue.

Tell us about the social innovator behind this idea.

Mrs. Carmen Villanueva, with the help of relatives and friends brings up to life in 1996, Hogar María del Carmen. She has won recognitions and awards within the community for her attitudes and efforts towards this endeavor. Our growth and development has been accomplished mainly because of her tenacity. In the beggining she held three jobs, sleeping at parking lots in her car between jobs, to bring those paychecks completely to the Home. One of the most beautiful things that you can enjoy form her is to listen to her stories: her voice, they way she tells them, brings one to it as you are living them. It has been a privilege working with her and for her innovation.

How did you first hear about Changemakers?

Through another organization or company

If through another, please provide the name of the organization or company

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation