At the age of 23, Steve Gonzalez was a husband and father to three beautiful children, four, two and a one-year old. He was employed as a car washer on the north side of Houston, near Bush Intercontinental Airport.
If you knew Steve, you would know the term “hard-working” does not begin to describe him. His outlook was that each day was a new day; a reason to rejoice and another opportunity to do what he was unable to do the day before.
Just then, life threw Steve a curve ball. He was faced with what felt like an insurmountable situation. After weeks of sharp jolts of pain in his feet, Steve decided to seek medical help. He was diagnosed with a severe case of ingrown toenails and the pain was debilitating. If the diagnosis was not enough to throw a wrench in his ability to provide for his young family what he learned next was medication alone would cost him in excess of $300.
“I was working as a car washer making about $150 per week with no insurance,” said Steve. “Something was wrong and I knew it. Though I was thankful to finally learn what was wrong with me, I simply could not afford the medication and treatment needed to address my illness,” Steve added.
Steve, through the searing pain, remained faithful that God would come to his aid.
“I had a family to provide for and the fact that I had high-blood pressure and ingrown toenails was never going to be enough of an excuse to stop doing what I needed to do for my wife and children,” said Steve. “There was only one outcome in my mind: to get better and continue to provide,” he added. “Though the cost of the medications alone were more than I earned in two weeks, I couldn’t lose faith—I couldn’t afford to.”
Steve decided to seek a second opinion. As fate would have it, his prayers were answered when someone suggested that he try one of the CHRISTUS Foundation for HealthCare clinics.
The Cost for Treatment
“Someone told me to check out the CHRISTUS Foundation for HealthCare Clinic off of Hwy 59 and so I did,” said Steve. “You guys were the answer to my prayers,” he added.
“I received medication, medical information on how treatment works and more for no cost at all,” exclaimed Steve. “I couldn’t believe it! I couldn’t believe that I was getting my medical needs met at no cost to me and my family,” he added.
Steve’s connection with the clinic would come full circle more than two decades later.
Today, Steve owns his own car wash and detail business with several locations across the Houston metro area.
In 2017, CHRISTUS Foundation for HealthCare Mobile Clinics Coordinator, Nancy Bocanegra decided to look for professional cleaning services for the mobile units.
A few companies vied for the contract. Coincidentally one of the staff members recommended Steve’s company.
“Steve came out and washed one of the mobile units for free to demonstrate his work and we loved it, said Bocanegra. “Just then he surprised us and said that he’d offer two months cleaning for free and when I said that wasn’t necessary he shared that our services helped him when no one else would, and this was his way of giving back.”
“I give back by detailing the mobile units for two months out of the year for free,” said Steve. “I spoke to Nancy Bocanegra first. All those years ago CHRISTUS welcomed me with open arms. Now more than a decade later, God has taken me full circle to pay it forward.” “I told her, hey listen, I know what you guys do, I know how much you help people because you helped me, when I needed it the most. It’s only right that I do what’s on my heart for the organization that helped me back to my feet, literally.”
Pain of the Past
In life, there are things you never forget. Some of those are glorious moments of accomplishment and others are those moments when you were seemingly in the toughest places.
“I remember the pain, anguish, uncertainty and the feeling of being lost,” said Steve. “If I can help it, I would like to help others avoid those feelings,” he added through sniffles, holding back tears and pain associated with that painful time in his past.
After treatment, through the years, Steve proved his resilience. His faith and perseverance, his principled demeanor, his dream all converged on the sole purpose of taking care of his family, and he has and continues to do just that.
The help he received from the CHRISTUS Southwest Clinic, which has now moved and become CHRISTUS St. Mary’s Clinic, helped his dreams come true.
Steve Pays It Forward
Steve lives a pay-it-forward lifestyle in the hopes that hose who need help, find it. He pays it forward with financial assistance, and donations. Armed with wisdom and advice his mother’s advice he keeps paying it forward. Steve thinks giving should be a way of life for everyone.
“Giving helps so many people,” said Steve. “I remember Christmas gifts being provided by generous donations from fellow church-goers,” he added. “Being able to experience Christmas as a kid is priceless. I couldn’t place a price on how much of an impact generosity had on me and my family,” said Steve.
Steve is proud of his decision to give back. He considers it a healthy part of being a human being.
“I recently had a discussion with my wife,” said Steve. “I told her, if I die today, I would be proud of what I’ve done with my life. I just wished that everyone had that very same mentality and yearning to help those in need. It is the most satisfying feeling in the world.”
Will you be in a position to pay it forward one day? Maybe you will?
The first step however, is up to you. Steve’s hope is that you take up the mantle; make a donation, volunteer or call to inquire how you too can make a difference.
If you would like to support CHRISTUS Foundation for HealthCare or any one of our clinics please donate today. If you have any questions contact Chief Director of Development, James Nicas at [email protected] or call 713-803-1809.