Three Insights from our Community Survey


Usually, we tell stories of the work our programs are doing in the Frio River Canyon and in San Antonio. This time, we’re telling a broader set of stories. Allow me to explain.

In our work at the H. E. Butt Foundation, we want people to feel grace rather than judgment and hope rather than fear. When we start with grace and hope, people find common ground, a brave middle space where we can listen to each other and widen our circles of human concern.

But how much common ground is there? How wide is that middle space? It’s hard to say. So, five years ago, in our first community survey, we asked you to tell us how you see the world around you. You shared your thoughts about our collective responsibility to our neighbors. We learned you care about their mental health, their education, and their access to food and housing. We learned you generously give to nonprofits and food pantries—and you are active in your faith communities, significantly more active than the average American.

Then, last fall we sent you the same survey again to see if anything has changed in your thinking. THREE INSIGHTS stood out to us this time:

In this issue, we’re unpacking the survey results and sharing stories that we feel embody these three insights. You named mental health as a top priority, and we tell the story of a pastor who is transparent with his congregation about his own mental wellness. Your faith communities want to support people on the margins, and we tell the story of the Kingdom Lab in downtown San Antonio. You wondered if faith communities are doing their part, and we share the story of a church in Austin that is meeting people where they live—even if that means meeting them under a bridge.

These stories may challenge some of your assumptions about poverty. That is what happened to me when I first read Mauricio Miller’s The Alternative. The book claimed, “Most of what you believe about poverty is wrong,” which inspired us to spend two pages of this issue unpacking how we measure poverty in our country.

As you read this issue, consider the ways your neighborhood and your faith community are doing their part to support mental wellness and people on the margins. Do you have stories to share of the good work happening near you? I’d love to hear from you! Consider sharing your thoughts with me by sending an email to I look forward to keeping the conversation going.


Neighbors on the Margins

68% of survey respondents said supporting people living on the margins was a top priority for their faith communities.

Welcome to the Neighborhood

Participants in our 2023 community survey from Austin gathered to discuss the pressing needs in their community.

Your Number One Concern: Mental Wellness

44% of survey respondents said mental health services need the most attention in their community.

Communities Need Help. Can Churches Be The Bridge?

Only 44% of survey respondents said they feel their faith communities are doing enough to help locals in need, compared to 80% in 2019.