Roberta Has Faith In Family


Family is a powerful influence in everyone’s lives. Family can lift us up, encourage us, empower us, and create pathways to our dreams. Family is made up of the people we were raised with, but family can also be made up of those we encounter in our lives who take an active part in shaping us.

Today, we’re excited to share with you the story of Roberta’s family.

We hope you’re inspired by their grit and values. And we hope you’re moved by the way the larger BakerRipley family has transformed their lives.

We’re inspired by how Roberta’s story was impacted by BakerRipley partners just like you.


In the early 1980’s, Roberta Leal was a child growing up in the Houston area. Her family resembled many others in that same time and place. Her father was a Texas native. Her mother was an immigrant from Mexico. She and her sisters remember a happy upbringing.

Roberta also remembers desperate struggles.

“We were doing really well as a family,” recalls Roberta. “When my father lost his job, and my mother needed to start working, we realized my mother didn’t have the necessary language skills. She didn’t have the job skills. She didn’t necessarily have what was needed to join the workforce in American society.”

At their lowest financial point, Roberta’s father brought home a total year’s income of $8,600.

“My mom hand made our clothes. We got one pair of shoes a year. We really weren’t allowed to do too many things outside of the home because we just didn’t have money to pay for it.”

If a lack of job options and no personal wealth during an economic recession weren’t enough, Roberta’s family had another problem.

Roberta had an undiagnosed brain tumor.

The tumor was a result of Cushing’s Disease, a condition Roberta has had since childhood. Cushing’s Disease can create many symptoms and side-effects. For Roberta, it meant growing up with several health challenges, including lack of weight control, hair loss, asthma, and diabetes.

“I remember, to this day, my dad sitting me down and saying ‘we have to make tough decisions. And we’ve got to get rid of the insurance.’ And I was like, but I’m sick, how am I going to get the care that I need?”

Fortunately for Roberta’s family — and thousands of Neighbors like them — BakerRipley partners, volunteers, and donors were there to help.

While BakerRipley assistance didn’t directly support Roberta’s family insurance or medical needs, they were able to find the resources, programs, and services that many families need.


Roberta will always consider BakerRipley community centers a second home.

“Originally, the BakerRipley campus in Pasadena was a food pantry. And so that’s where we would go and stand in line.” When the Leals needed it most, the BakerRipley family literally put food on her table.

After learning English in order to advance her career opportunities, Roberta’s mother earned her G.E.D. at a BakerRipley community center. Not only did it expand her job options, but she leveraged it to offer ESL classes at BakerRipley to other Neighbors for free.

As a teenager, when Roberta aspired to start a career that utilized her passion for changing her Neighbors’ lives, she found a part-time position as a youth worker at a BakerRipley community center.

“I first started working with BakerRipley as a youth worker in the late 90s. It was very evident that I had something to offer the community. I knew I wanted to help people; I just didn’t know how. And I realized, with BakerRipley, there was more of an opportunity to serve the complete family, not just one piece of it.”

Roberta’s examples of personal life-change because of BakerRipley supporters like you go on and on: people, locations, and opportunities that have enriched and transformed Roberta’s story. This is the same for thousands of Houston Neighbors like her, whose lives and dreams are supported every day through BakerRipley community centers.


“At BakerRipley, the
minute you walk through
the door
… there’s hope.”


“At BakerRipley, the minute you walk through the door, it’s like, did you know? Did you know we have a class? Did you know there’s an opportunity? Do you know there’s an option for you? There’s hope. And there’s an option for somebody like me, coming in from the community who might feel at the end. Or might feel like there’s so many roadblocks. There’s an opportunity when you walk through a BakerRipley door. It’s life changing.”

That’s why BakerRipley partners like you are so critical to our Houston Neighbors. Without volunteers, supporters, and donors like you, we would not be able to make our community centers the hub of family-oriented opportunities and support that they are.

From all of us, thank you. Together, let’s keep supporting families … by being their family.


BakerRipley community centers are the hub of BakerRipley impact, where family empowerment is enriched and transformation begins. Your gift places necessary funds directly where it can make the most impact for local families.

Will you make a gift to BakerRipley right now? You will provide the resources, opportunities, and care that Houston families urgently need.

Support family. Empower families. Become family.