It is a rare gift when a career path mirrors a “true calling” from the heart. Yet, for HEALTH-RCMI's Community Research Advisory Board member Elma Saenz, her work represents a true journey of the heart. Saenz is the clinical director of Billy T. Cattan Outreach Recovery Center serving the Crossroads region near Victoria, Texas.

“You do this job because it calls to your heart. It’s about being able to help people day in and day out,” Saenz said. “There’s nothing they can’t come back from if we give them the right tools. We can help clients achieve milestones, and milestones here are different. I believe in the counselors we have, and I also believe in our staff. They really care. They are here because they want to be. It’s a calling of the heart.”


The Billy T. Cattan Outreach Recovery Center is a faith-based, non-profit organization that offers treatment to adults suffering from substance use disorders in Victoria County and the Coastal Bend region.


Currently, the center provides outpatient treatment, but the hope is that it will soon be expanded to include an inpatient facility called “The Hope Ranch.” The proposed facility is slated to have 52 beds for patients and professional counselors who can provide compassionate care for individuals suffering from substance use disorders.


“For me, the Hope Ranch provides an ability to offer a full continuum of care,” Saenz said. “This would allow us to get clients into detox when they are at that level of care, give them inpatient care after that, and then provide the outpatient following that to help sustain their sobriety once they are back in their homes and in their communities, so they have that smooth transition into the recovery support services, right in their own community.”


Right now, the Crossroads area still lacks an inpatient residential facility. Clients have been referred to inpatient treatment facilities in Corpus Christi, San Antonio, Houston, and Austin. The estimated cost of the Hope Ranch would be $9,150,000, which would be significantly funded by donations, grants, sponsorships, and the Texas Department of State Health. The inpatient facility would also offer childcare for clients.


“I think an inpatient facility would give them what they need closer to home, and I think that’s very vital,” Saenz said. “For example, with women and children—moms worry about who is going to care for them while they seek treatment. We are hoping to eliminate that concern by giving them the option to bring their children with them. Hopefully, that will motivate them to seek treatment. We really want to be proactive in that situation and make sure they get them the help earlier on when they are seeking it initially.


Serving as the Executive Director of Billy T. Cattan Outreach Recovery Center, Daniel Barrientos echoes the need for an inpatient residential center which will serve the local population in the Crossroads region. Barrientos also serves on the HEALTH-RCMI Community Research Advisory Board.


“If I had to sum it up, we are a community-based program. We’re not a corporate entity,” Barrientos said. “Our treatment will be a community-based approach. We have created a culture here where we put the clients first, and the clients will come first at Hope Ranch.”


Barrientos underscored the importance of understanding that people will seek help when they reach a certain threshold, but you cannot force a person to seek help with alcohol addiction.


“What I tell people is there’s always hope. People do recover,” Barrientos said. “A person must want to get better. You cannot force someone who’s not ready to get help to get help. That’s what we see a lot-- when loved ones come in seeking help for someone. That person who has the addiction must realize that they have the addiction, and they’re ready to get help.”


Patience and compassion are also key when it comes to helping others who are struggling with addiction, Saenz added.


“Patience is important because this is a long process,” Saenz said. “For a lot of clients, this is a lifestyle change. It’s not going to be a magic bullet or a magic cure. This is one of those things where clients will struggle. We call it recovery for a reason. They will continue through their lives to face this. I have some clients—who say, ‘you know, I don’t even think about it anymore,’ and then for some clients, it’s an everyday struggle, and it may always be that. Recovery looks different for everybody. Ultimately, recovery is in the hands of the clients. Finding success in the little things so that clients stay motivated in recognizing that there are still good things going on.”



--Alison Medley



If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Alison Medley at 713.320.0933 or email

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