Tax Manager Matthew Heberlein loves helping his Houston community. He and his husband, Alex, are very passionate about volunteering for organizations that are important to them, including Omega House, recipient of a 2021 Baker Tilly Wishes grant. Founded in 1986, Omega House began as a residential hospice for individuals living with HIV, many from the LGBTQ+ community.
Today, anyone who needs hospice or respite care can stay at Omega House. Most clients are community members living with HIV and about 67% are people of color. “This program is so important to me because it’s the only program of its kind in Houston today,” said Matthew. “Without it, there would be nowhere to go for many people.”
The hospice program provides end-of-life hospice and palliative care and support. The respite care program at Omega House cares for those who are recovering from illnesses or post-surgery who need a brief recovery period (up to 90 days) until they can live independently or in a supportive housing environment. All residents are treated with respect and without judgment. “This includes residents who may not be accepted for who they are by their own families,” explained Matthew.
Omega House began as an independent, volunteer-run organization, and it is now part of Avenue 360, a community services healthcare organization. Much of their support still comes from volunteers. One of these volunteers is Marlin.
Marlin introduced Matthew to Omega House in 2018 when the two friends met. Marlin had been volunteering there for over 30 years. A couple of years ago Marlin celebrated his birthday with a fundraiser to create flower beds at the house. When Matthew stopped by to donate flowers, he noticed the building could use a few improvements.
“The exterior of Omega House has not been painted and/or repaired since its original expansion and construction in 1992, and the original part of the house is over 100 years old,” said Matthew. “When I stopped by Marlin’s event I noticed chipped paint, trim that was falling apart and many other areas that needed attention,” said Matthew. “So many people stay in this house, and they deserve to live somewhere that is comfortable and inviting.”
Matthew and Alex are currently restoring their home and have picked up a lot of skills that they are using on the Omega House project. “We want to ensure Omega House is around for at least another 35 years,” said Matthew.
With the help of a Baker Tilly Wishes grant, Matthew and Alex will be able to make this wish come true.