STEPHEN HEMELT — Port Arthur LNG’s Safe Communities Initiative empowers mental health treatment and so much more

Published 12:18 am Sunday, July 9, 2023

Samaritan Counseling Center of Southeast Texas is looking to use an infusion of grant funds for Port Arthur mental health and counseling services to help clients with anxiety and depression.

When we spoke recently, Brooke Loupe shared the stigma that prevented so many people from asking for mental health help is breaking down.

“Especially since COVID, we have seen a big rise in the number of people being willing and open to ask for help, receive that help and talk about mental health in our community,” she said.

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Loupe, the community engagement coordinator for Samaritan Counseling, said the center serves anyone from the age of 5 years old and up.

“I think our oldest client right now is in her 80s,” she said. “Most of our clients, over 50 percent of them, are under the age of 18.”

It’s that focus on young people and the obvious need in the community that creates an opportunity for Samaritan Counseling to have the greatest impact through mental health or counseling services.

“We offer them in person or also do telehealth for them,” Loupe said. “A lot of young people are more comfortable with technology then face-to-face or maybe they don’t have a car. They can do it from the comfort of their house.”

Samaritan Counseling Center of Southeast Texas is a nonprofit counseling organization using the concept of mind, body and spirit to promote healing, growth and the reconciliation of couples, families and organizations.

The integration of behavioral sciences and faith traditions is the organization’s base for counseling.

Center officials work with major insurance providers and accept Medicaid.

“But if you don’t have either of those, we offer fee assistance,” Loupe said. “We have a fee-assistance application that helps people out with some of those things.”

Those interested in reaching out for help or learning about treatment and payment options are encouraged to call 409-727-6400 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.

Center officials conduct a quick intake with the caller on the phone and call the potential client back to set up a best first-step approach.

The Samaritan Counseling Center’s main campus is located in Port Arthur, but there are satellite offices in Orange, Beaumont and Silsbee, creating opportunities for all residents of Southeast Texas.

I was able to speak with Brooke Loupe and learn a little bit more about the Samaritan Counseling Center during June 29’s Port Arthur LNG Safe Communities Grant Awards breakfast reception at the Press Building in Downtown Port Arthur.

The second-year event honored 17 local organizations, including Samaritan Counseling, with grants to help their programs, services and initiatives keep our community safe and healthy.

During her opening remarks, Sempra Infrastructure External Affairs Director Kelly Prasser noted Port Arthur LNG’s “robust relationship” with area police, fire, sheriff, and all safety agencies and first responders.

She stressed the Safe Communities Initiative was built on the other part of safety, which is community safety.

“We know if you are hungry, cannot pay your bills, don’t have good mental health services, don’t have access to health care, can’t get free immunizations, just need some assistance and don’t have an organization that provides you with those types of services when you are really in need, you don’t have a safety community,” Prasser said. “So that is what the Safe Communities Initiative is about.”

Port Arthur LNG officials used the Initiative as an opportunity to celebrate a long running partnership with the Port Arthur Independent School District.

“I think it was five years ago when Port Arthur ISD came to us and was like, ‘hey, we’ve got this revolutionary program. We want to take ninth graders and put them through high school and we also want them to graduate with an AA from Lamar State College Port Arthur at the same time,’” Prasser recalled.

“Roger (Turcios) is one of those. He is from Port Arthur. He went through the program. Not only does he have his high school diploma, he does have an AA from Lamar State College Port Arthur and is back at school getting his four-year degree while he is working for us.”

Prasser noted Turcios is part of the Port Arthur LNG communications team and is “doing everything you see on our website, our local stories, the Port Arthur Facebook, the Port Arthur Twitter. We are so proud to see someone come out of a program we sponsored. We are so happy to have Roger on our team. He is our youngest team member.”

Port Arthur LNG’s continued partnerships with grassroots leaders and support for job opportunities is setting an example for all Southeast Texas corporate entities to follow.

Stephen Hemelt is the president of Port Arthur Newsmedia, which publishes, The Port Arthur News and Greater Port Arthur The Magazine. He can be reached at or 409- 721-2445.