N OVE M B E R/DE C E M B E R 2 0 2 3 | VO LUM E 15 ISSUE 6
A Business for Fitness Lorena Abreu’s love of parkour leads to successful career. p.74
TEAMWORK, CONFIDENCE, & GROWTH Marine Military Academy changing the lives of young men to lead the next generation. p.20
ANA D. GONZALEZ Transforming education in the Rio Grande Valley. p.38
YEAR-ROUND JOY Capable Kids gift happiness and inclusion. p.70
Put Your Mind at Ease
Valley Baptist Neuroscience Institute for the Highest Level of Care At the first sign of stroke, Valley Baptist Health System offers advanced treatment when every second counts. All our hospitals have Comprehensive Stroke Center certification for rigorous standards of care, including diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation and education. Let us help you or your loved one get back on the road to the good life. BE FAST
Balance Off • Eyes Blurry • Face Droops • Arm Weakness • Speech Slurred • Time to Call 911
Find your partner in care
Growing Business 118-ACRE
SHOVEL-READY BUSINESS PARK SCAN THE CODE TO WATCH VIDEO
As the only deep-water seaport directly on the U.S.-Mexico border, the Port of Brownsville is the ideal location for growing your business. SUITED FOR MANUFACTURING & LOGISTICS D.
18 LOTS AVAILABLE ALL UTILITES IN PLACE
LOT 1 11.49 Ac
FOREIGN-TRADE ZONE #62 DESIGNATED SITE
LOT 3 4.82 Ac
DIRECT ACCESS TO USMCA CORRIDOR
CONNECTIVITY TO 3 CLASS 1 RAILROADS
DIRECT ACCESS TO OVERWEIGHT CORRIDOR
LOT 9 4.59 Ac
LOT 10 4.71 Ac
LOT 15 4.60 Ac
LOT 11 4.71 Ac
LOT 12 4.71 Ac
LOT 16 4.76 Ac
LOT 13 4.65 Ac
LOT 14 4.65 Ac
LOT 17 4.71 Ac
LOT 7 6.16 Ac
LOT 8 6.05 Ac
LOT 18 7.35 Ac
LOT 4 3.48 Ac
LOT 5 5.82 Ac
24/7 SECURED FACILITIES
LOT 2 9.81 Ac
LOT 6 8.74 Ac
1000 Foust Rd. Brownsville, TX 78521 (956) 831-4592 portofbrownsville.com
PILE IT ON WE CAN MANAGE IT! The one source for all your document management solutions.
DOCUMENT MANAGEMENT SOLUTIONS
Oﬀ-Site and On-Site Document Shredding
RIO GRANDE VALLEY | LAREDO | CORPUS CHRISTI
Rooted in helping you live a life free of addiction. Mesquite Treatment Center, LLC provides residential treatment services for adolescent boys between 13 and 17 years old who are struggling with substance use disorders. Our 17-acre ranch offers a supportive environment where they can receive care and support while discovering new hobbies and interests.
MTCRGV.COM | HOURS MONDAY – FRIDAY: 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM WEEKENDS: CLOSED REFERRALS@MTCRGV.COM | PHONE +1 (956) 428-2100 | LOCATION 17697 ABD RD, HARLINGEN, TX
STAFF N I C H O LA S T. PER EZ CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER
GAB E P U EN T E PUBLISHER/CEO
D O M I N I Q U E Y. Z M U DA GRAPHIC DESIGNER/ILLUSTRATOR/ CONTENT MANAGER
J O EL DAV I LA ACCOUNT MANAGER
M A R K PU EN T E VIDEO PRODUCTION LEAD/PHOTOGRAPHER
AARON GARCIA VIDEO PRODUCTION LEAD/PHOTOGRAPHER
PED R O S I LVA WEB DEVELOPER
ART GARZA GRAPHIC ARTIST/PHOTOGRAPHER
M A D I S O N B I C K ER TO N UX/UI DEVELOPER
M ELI S S A G U T I ER R EZ DIGITAL MEDIA EXECUTIVE
R A FA EL M EN D O Z A- FA R I A S J R .
If you are interested in receiving issues delivered to your home, please go to RGVisionMagazine.com/Subscribe or send us an email at info@RGVisionMagazine. com to subscribe to RGVision for $6.50/month. Copyright by RGVision Publications Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without expressed written permission of the publisher is prohibited. The opinions and views expressed in the magazine don’t necessarily reflect those of our advertisers or collaborators. RGVision magazine is published bi-monthly and circulates 10,000 copies across the Rio Grande Valley in 450 locations with a direct mail distribution to major hospitals and superintendents within Region 1. The RGVision office is located at 1912 Beaumont Ave., McAllen, TX 78501.
Bryan Kirk Selene Guerrero Jillian Cameron Nathaniel Mata Sofia Lanza
James Hord Bárbara Delgado Kristina Barker Sally Ryan Jimmy Kryzak
For editorial comments and suggestions, please send emails to info@RGVisionMagazine.com. For advertising information, please call us at 956.431.0103 or email us at info@RGVisionMagazine.com. A special thank you to all the advertisers who support this publication: You are the power behind the flywheel igniting positive change that keeps the conversation going. P RI N T ED I N MEXI CO
VISIT OUR WEBSITE
Cynthia Ybarra Ana D. Gonzalez Rick Vasquez Teclo Garcia FASTSIGNS® Port of Brownsville Dr. Alfonso Mercado Dr. Rafael Carrales Matt Lynch Dr. Rene I. Luna Colleen Curran Hook
John15:16 “You did not chose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit…” Here in the Rio Grande Valley, our community embodies a spirit of tenacity, an invaluable resource that propels us through challenges. Our publication has long celebrated the pursuit of greatness in local individuals in each of their chosen paths. In this issue, we share the story of an athlete that resonates deeply with our enduring ethos. Lorena Abreu's journey from a film student to a successful stuntwoman through her passion for parkour mirrors the relentless spirit that makes our region uniquely prosperous. Like countless others we've shared over 14 years, her tale reflects the indomitable drive within the Rio Grande Valley. This issue, brimming with inspiring stories, invites you to stay informed, educated and motivated, guiding us through a growth journey and embracing whatever challenges may come. Sharing this issue empowers our mission. RGVision is a publication that is dedicated to the people of the Valley. We encourage you to support us by advertising your business within our pages to ensure more stories reach your hands. Let's continue promoting the Valley and its exceptional people. Thank you for picking up this issue.
2023 V O L U M E 1 5 I S S U E 6
74 ON THE COVER
2 0 T EA M WORK , C ONFIDENC E , & G RO WTH
A BUSINESS FOR FITNESS
Marine Military Academy changing the lives of young men to lead the next generation
Lorena Abreu’s love of parkour leads to successful career.
NA D. G ONZA LEZ 3 8 ATransforming education in the Rio Grande Valley.
7 0 Y EA R- ROU ND J OY
Capable Kids gift happiness and inclusion.
College Opportunities pg 10 Educational Future pg 14 Empowering Students pg 16 Supporting Teachers pg 22 Achievement of Excellence pg 24
On a Mission to Transform
Holiday Mental Health pg 48 Limb Loss Prevention pg 50 Mesquite Treatment Center pg 54 Dental Insurance pg 56 Rapid Care pg 58 Next Level Care pg 62 Precautions During Pregnancy pg 64
pg 28 The Value of Rebranding pg 32 EZ-Scape Making Grass Easy pg 42 Modern Marvels pg 44
QUALITY OF LIFE Tiny Forest pg 68 The Nutcracker pg 72 Dr. Garcia's Gold pg 80 Tacocean pg 82 Therapy Dogs pg 84
RGVISION ADVISORY BOARD
Each and every member of our advisory board charges RGVision with growth and commitment within our business development, social engagement, and editorial efforts. Through their feedback and contributions, RGVision will continue to help tell and share the Rio Grande Valley’s stories and extend the invitation to join the conversation.
RO B E R T D UN K I N
J AV I ER D E LEO N
J UA N A . G A R C I A
B YRO N J AY L E WI S
E D D I E LU C I O I I I
D R . R EN E I . LU N A
M A R K P ET ER S O N
M ARITZA L . R A MIREZ
A N D RE A R O D R I G UE Z
SAR AH SAGREDO HAMMOND
S A B R I N A WA LK ER H ER N A N D EZ
E D U C A T I O N
WITHOUT THE DEBT PSJA ISD Offers Career-Advancing Opportunities in High-Demand Careers
by C ynt hia Yb a r r a | p h o to s p r o vi d ed
Pharr San Juan Alamo ISD continues to make strides in setting students up for academic and post-secondary success by allowing them to choose from various college and career opportunities. The district previously established an Early College program at all eight high school campuses, making it the only wall-to-wall Early College district in Texas. PSJA ISD is committed to offering students even more options through the Daniel P. King PSJA College & University Center in San Juan, which houses the district's PSJA Academies and PSJA Collegiate School of Health Professions. At this innovative facility, students from the district's high schools are transported daily to take dual credit courses available through the district's nationally recognized program. PSJA ISD offers over 25 Academies to help connect students to associate degrees and college certificates through the district's higher educational partners like South Texas College. The PSJA Academies facilitate a pipeline to help students get into a college or career of their choice. "The vast options like the ones at the PSJA Academies are transforming students' lives and communities due to the head start they receive while in high school," said PSJA Executive Officer for College Readiness Dr. Linda Uribe-Treviño. "The Academies ignite their love for learning and the love for college and career and it helps shape their future trajectory." The PSJA Academies offer four fields of
study: the School of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM), the School of Business & Industry, the School of Public Service & Health Services and the School of Arts & Humanities. Within each of those fields, there are over 27 areas in which students can receive a certification or an associate degree, depending upon their interests. The PSJA Academies are open to all current high school students. Students must apply by their 10th-grade year. Academies are specifically offered based on today's most high-demand fields, such as Cybersecurity Technology Academy, Renewable Energy Academy, Veterinary Technician Academy, Precision Manufacturing Technology Academy, Diesel Technology Academy, Plumbing & Pipefitting Academy, Education Academy, Pharmacy Technician Academy, and many more. Students attending the College & University Center are bused in from their home campus to participate in their selected field of study. The classrooms are set up to resemble an actual hospital setting for those studying phlebotomy or those students taking emergency medical technician classes to practice using an ambulance simulator. It is a center where students can learn and be reassured that they will be getting the best technology and resources because it is parallel to what the colleges are expecting. The Dr. Daniel P. King PSJA College & University Center has recently added The CUBE, which aims to offer a productive
E D U C A T I O N
E D U C A T I O N
empowers them to succeed by having different support systems in place," said Dr. Linda Uribe-Treviño. "Our goal is really to create equitable learning for students. We got you in the seat and we are excited that you are part of the PSJA Academies, but now comes the real work, making sure that you are successful in that seat." The CUBE is a place where students can go for extended opportunities for tutoring, industry certifications, and checking out different manipulatives and models to study. There will be a facilitator to ensure the needs of the students are met. Students will have enrichment opportunities through CUBE Talk, bringing in guest speakers, student workshops, art galleries, and CUBE leaders (student tutors) who will share their experiences. PSJA ISD has focused on ensuring equity through its Early College Program and Career & Technical Education opportunities. This initiative begins with exposure to college and career choices as early as elementary school through career fairs, and starting this year, you will have the opportunity to visit The CUBE for speaker features. The speaker feature room will bring experts from different areas of study and colleges. At PSJA ISD, middle school students can engage in some CTE courses. Still, they will also benefit from the activities at The CUBE when they participate in tours and visits. Middle school students can participate in listening to industry students and academic path students from the PSJA Academies as they talk about their educational journey. The school district is committed to providing a variety of choices for our students beginning in elementary school so they can start their college career readiness journey early, according to Dr. Uribe-Treviño. "We want all our students, not just the top, to graduate from our district with either a College Certificate, Industry Certificate, and up to an associate degree so that they have access to high demand, high wage opportunities," said PSJA Superintendent Dr. Alejandro Elias. "Our district is also leading the way in sustainability and our Renewable Energy Certificate that will help students be ready to service electric vehicles, solar panels, and more high-demand fields of the future. The future is here at PSJA ISD!" PSJA ISD is an open-enrollment school district serving over 30,000 students. The district welcomes students living anywhere in the Rio Grande Valley. Parents interested in having their children take advantage of the Early College opportunities can learn more at psjaisd. us academies.
learning space that empowers students to succeed through quality academic support services. The CUBE has a variety of services and resources that foster independence to help students succeed academically, socially, and emotionally. According to Dr. Uribe-Treviño, The CUBE is a new initiative that PSJA ISD was committed to bringing to fruition. An industry that will provide students with a space where they can go to study, receive tutoring, and use technology to complete their coursework. This space has a collegiate-inspired motif and will even feature a coffee area for students to enjoy. "We're really excited about The CUBE because it's a new concept that we've brought to PSJA where students can walk into a productive learning environment that
E D U C A T I O N
FUTURE PAVING A BRIGHT EDUCATIONAL
A Recap of the 11th Annual PSJA Education Foundation Gala
b y Ji l l i a n C a m e r on | p h ot os p r ov i d e d
fundraise for student scholarships and teacher grants. “[The gala] brings the community together. It is a great networking event within our community in which simultaneously we raise funds and pave the way for educational opportunities and growth,” Lopez said. The PSJA Education Foundation’s fundraising started with a golf tournament. Still, the board members decided to take it to the next level with an annual concert. Hundreds of attendees enjoyed the 11th Annual PSJA Education Foundation Gala at the Bert Ogden Arena September 7, 2023. Attendees enjoyed popular 80’s music from the well-known “E5C4P3: The Journey Tribute Band.” The event began with a mixer for VIP members. The show started at 7:30 p.m. for all attendees to enjoy.
The PSJA Education Foundation is a nonprofit organization that provides educational funds to the students and staff of the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District (PSJA ISD). The organization prides itself in promoting excellence in education by developing and sustaining financial and nonfinancial support programs for PSJA students and staff. “The [school] district and the foundation share the same belief that a successful education system must involve a team effort that includes the home, school and community,” said Marlen Lopez, vice president of the PSJA Education Foundation. Each year the Foundation hosts a gala in the fall to
E D U C A T I O N
In addition to the concert, each attendee could participate in a live and silent auction with over 40 valuable prizes given by local businesses. Top silent auction prizes included tickets to the University of Texas vs. University of Texas Tech football game in November, a photo booth rental, restaurant gift cards, a party bus rental, multiple luxurious two-night getaways, high-value shoes and purses, and more. All proceeds from the event will go to student scholarships and grants. This year, the Foundation recognized Velma De Leon as their Top Contributing Member and Memorial Funeral Home for being the Presenting Sponsor in loving memory of Chano Garza. The board members of the PSJA Foundation work diligently all year to make this event happen. Because of the generosity of local business owners, alumni, private citizens, and PSJA staff, the foundation has raised and awarded over $2.2 million in scholarships and teacher grants since its founding in 2013. “The pivotal role of the PSJA community in achieving this milestone is deeply appreciated,” Lopez said. Last school year, the PSJA Foundation awarded $341,000 in student scholarships, $52,605 to teachers through 60 mini-grants, and a $14,000 grant toward literacy initiatives. “We are blessed to be part of the PSJA Family,” Lopez said. For more information on the PSJA Education Foundation, please visit psjaedfoundation.org or call (956) 354-2027. To view photos and videos from the 11th Annual PSJA Education Foundation Gala, visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/PSJAEdFoundation.
E D U C A T I O N
STUDENTS An Overview of the Brownsville ISD Guidance and Counseling Program
b y Ji l l i a n Ca m e r on | p h ot os b y M a r k P u e n t e to earn credit as they move through their regular high school courses. College promotion begins in elementary school with counselors helping host university-themed activities and sporting university and college shirts on designated days throughout the year. Additionally, campus counselors host regular parent meetings to present the curriculum and provide resources on college planning and student safety. “While academic counseling is important to ensure all areas of academic needs are being addressed and met, Counselors provide emotional support counseling and crisis intervention when needed,” Garza said. The guidance department coordinates with community agencies to provide informational interviews to showcase various services offered in the city for students and families. These information sessions are conducted virtually and posted to the Guidance and Counseling Department’s website. The guidance department also hosts monthly information sessions on mental health. “Topics range from healthy coping, anxiety, depression, [and] holiday stress,” Garza said. BISD is proud to offer extended day counseling services for students and employees for the third year at no cost.
The mission of the Brownsville Independent School District (BISD) Guidance and Counseling Department is to provide all students with the knowledge and skills to develop their academic, personal/social, and career competencies to prepare them for a seamless transition to post-secondary success. In adherence with the mission statement, school counselors provide academic guidance, responsive services, individual and group counseling, and guidance for curriculum instruction. Sara Garza is the director of the Guidance and Counseling Department for BISD. “The counselor’s role is to work in collaboration with every department in the district that impacts a student’s education: bilingual education, career and technical education, fine arts, athletics, and after school enrichment programs to name a few,” Garza said. With BISD offering an early college high school program, middle and high school counselors work throughout the year to promote the program and help enroll high school students in college courses. “Currently over two thousand five hundred students are enrolled in college dual enrollment courses,” Garza said. Counselors fit these dual enrollment courses seamlessly into students’ graduation plans, making it easy for students
The guidance department coordinates with community agencies to provide informational interviews to showcase various services offered in the city for students and families.
“Since the fall of 2021, the department has received and responded to over 650 referrals for personal counseling,” Garza said. BISD also participates in the Texas Child Health Access Through Telemedicine (TCHATT) program. TCHATT partners with the University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) School of Medicine to provide nocost therapy and counseling services from licensed mental health providers. Today, every BISD campus is equipped to provide TCHATT services to students. The district also has special counseling teams that support students during a crisis or loss. These teams provide support and comfort to students coping with the loss of a classmate, teacher, or staff member. The BISD guidance department works proactively to empower students to make wise decisions regarding their safety around others and in relationships. “We teach our elementary students to listen to and develop their instincts for personal safety. Students are taught from elementary to speak up and find help from a safe and trusted adult,” Garcia said. For more information on the BISD Guidance and Counseling department, visit bisd.us/departments/a-i/ guidance-counseling.
E D U C A T I O N
DOWNLOAD OUR ISSUE issuu.com/rgvisionmagazine
E D U C A T I O N
TEAMWORK, CONFIDENCE, & GROWTH Marine Military Academy Changing the Lives of Young Men to Lead the Next Generation by J illi a n C a mero n | p h o to s p r o vi d ed
Located in Harlingen, Texas, The Marine Military Academy (MMA) is a college-preparatory boarding school for young men in grades 7-12 with an optional postgraduate year. Since 1965, MMA has been the only private school based on the practices and principles of the United States Marine Corps. MMA aims to provide a positive academic experience and promote physical and moral growth in every cadet. MMA offers a structured environment without distractions faced in a traditional school setting. Throughout their time at the academy, cadets learn to take ownership of their lives and develop the tools they need to succeed in college and personal lives. Retired Lieutenant Colonel Rick Rodriguez is a graduate of MMA. This summer, he began serving as the Assistant Director of Institutional Advancement & Admissions. “In the spring of 1979 my mother made the decision that I would be joining my two older brothers at MMA,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez began the academy in Aug. 1979 and graduated in May 1985. “I strongly believe that MMA redirected my life,” Rodriguez said. Rodriguez had been struggling in his public school with discipline issues. His mother worked at MMA at the time. With his two older brothers there, she wanted all her boys to receive the same education. “[MMA] taught me how to get through life’s trials and tribulations that came my way,” Rodriguez said. Rodriguez described his drill instructor as a father figure to him throughout his six years at the academy. Rodriguez credits him with instilling perseverance, responsibility, and the practice of taking accountability for his actions. “MMA instilled in me to be the best person I could be and to strive to apply the Marine Corps’ principles, values and traits,” Rodriguez said. Without MMA, Rodriguez said he would have never joined and retired from the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves, nor would he have ever joined and retired as a Criminal Investigator with the United States Department of Justice. “The skills you learn while at MMA are with you forever. From learning how to study, to self-discipline, and most [importantly] learning how to lead others,” Rodriguez said. Rodriguez feels blessed to be in his current position as the Assistant Director of Institutional Advancement & Admissions. “This is my opportunity to give back to a school that directly shaped my life and molded me into the person I am today,” Rodriguez said. MMA has been home to thousands of young men from across the world. Their proven educational model has helped cadets earn higher grades, increase physical strength, and build good character. The academy prides itself on its 100% college acceptance rate. Though academics are a main focal point for MMA, athletics is also highly valuable. Regardless of experience, every cadet must participate in the daily afternoon activity. Activities range from flight training and band to traditional sports. The activities are built into the program to foster teamwork, instill confidence, and empower a spirit of camaraderie. In addition to the college-preparatory boarding school, MMA offers a highly physical four-week military summer camp. Boys ages 11-18 can sign up to participate in challenging and exciting outdoor activities to instill discipline, teamwork, and confidence. To learn more about MMA, visit mma-tx.org or call (956) 423-6006, for information on admissions, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
E D U C A T I O N
E D U C A T I O N ARTICLE PROVIDED BY
Ana D. González, M. Ed. Executive Director Teach For America
SUPPORTING TEACHERS IN A TEACHER SHORTAGE LANDSCAPE A Call to Action for Communities
p h o to s b y K r i s t i n a B a r ke r a n d S a l l y R y a n While school has been in session for almost an entire semester, the teacher shortage in our landscape remains a reality and concern for many communities. The challenges these shortages pose are manifold, affecting the quality of education and the overall well-being of educators. To address this issue effectively, communities must play a central role in supporting teachers. Communities must take a multifaceted approach to bolster the teaching profession and ensure a brighter future for our children. By focusing on relational, mindset shifts, and structural changes, communities can create an environment where teachers thrive and students receive a high-quality education.
the profession's challenges and remain committed to their roles. Community engagement is another crucial aspect of relational support we can offer teachers. Teachers feel valued and supported when parents, local businesses, and community organizations actively participate in the education process. Volunteers can provide their time and expertise to enhance the learning environment, which not only lightens the workload for teachers but also strengthens the connection between schools and their communities.
THE RELATIONAL COMPONENT: FOSTERING
Communities must shift their mindset to appreciate teachers' invaluable contributions to society. Acknowledging their hard work and dedication is essential for retaining talent in the field of education. Teacher appreciation events and campaigns are effective ways to recognize and celebrate teachers. Simple gestures such as thank-you notes and small tokens of appreciation can go a long way in boosting teacher morale. These actions should not be limited to Teacher Appreciation Week but should be ongoing throughout the school year. Moreover, communities should emphasize the significance of teaching as a noble profession. Highlighting teachers' positive impact on students' lives and society at
THE MINDSET SHIFT: RECOGNIZING AND APPRECIATING TEACHERS
Building nurturing and supportive relationships within the education community is one of the cornerstones of supporting teachers during a teacher shortage landscape. These relationships can provide teachers with emotional, professional, and personal support, ultimately leading to greater job satisfaction and retention. Mentorship programs are an excellent way to establish these supportive relationships. Communities can encourage experienced educators to mentor newer colleagues, providing guidance and a sense of belonging. These mentorship bonds help novice teachers navigate
E D U C A T I O N
Beyond relational and mindset shifts, communities can drive structural changes that create a more supportive teacher environment. These changes encompass policy reforms, resource allocation, and systemic improvements. One of the most critical structural changes is advocating for competitive compensation for teachers. Competitive salaries and comprehensive benefit packages are essential to attract and retain talented educators. Communities should collaborate with policymakers to ensure teachers are fairly compensated for their invaluable work. Reducing administrative burdens is another structural change that can significantly benefit teachers. Streamlining paperwork and administrative tasks allows teachers to focus more on their primary work and talent: educating students. Communities can advocate for improved administrative efficiency within schools and districts. A CALL TO ACTION FOR COMMUNITIES
To create a thriving educational ecosystem, communities must act decisively to support teachers in a teacher-shortage landscape. The call to action is clear: Engage Actively: Communities must engage with their local schools and teachers. Volunteer your time, expertise, and resources to support educators.
STRUCTURAL CHANGES: RESOURCES AND
Advocate for Change: Mobilize community members and advocate for policy changes that address teacher shortages and improve working conditions. Competitive compensation and reduced administrative burdens should be top priorities. Celebrate Teachers: Establish a culture of teacher appreciation where educators are recognized and celebrated consistently. Simple gestures can make a significant difference in teacher morale. Prioritize Education: Recognize the vital role education plays in shaping the future of our community. Invest in educational resources, infrastructure, and teacher development. Support Teacher Development: Encourage the professional growth of teachers through mentorship programs, networking opportunities, and ongoing professional development. In a teacher shortage landscape, communities are not bystanders but active participants in the effort to support and retain our educators. By fostering supportive relationships, shifting mindsets to appreciate teachers more consistently, and advocating for structural changes, communities can create an environment where teachers thrive, students excel, and the future looks brighter and filled with possibilities. Communities must take action and support teachers to ensure that all children reach their fullest potential. The call to action is clear: let's support teachers and shape a better tomorrow for our students and community.
large can encourage individuals to consider teaching a viable and rewarding career choice.
E D U C A T I O N
OF EXCELLENCE Texas Southmost College President Jesús Roberto Rodríguez Recognized with ACCT 2023 Western Regional CEO Award
b y Ri c k Vas q u e z | p h ot os p r ov i d e d Texas Southmost College President Jesús Roberto Rodríguez has been presented with the prestigious 2023 Western Regional CEO Award by the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT), marking a significant achievement for his outstanding contributions. Presented Oct. 11, 2023, Dr. Rodríguez's recognition is part of the national awards presented annually by the ACCT, with only five CEOs acknowledged across the United States and Canada. This accolade celebrates Dr. Rodríguez's exceptional contributions to innovative programs that serve as models for two-year postsecondary institutions. Texas Southmost College board of trustees Chair Adela Garza acknowledged his leadership, noting the unanimous support of the Board in his appointment. "Dr. Rodriguez has achieved extraordinary results by increasing enrollment, student success and community partnerships," said Garza. "He has also done exceptionally well working with the Trustees to ensure TSC continues to provide high-quality education while remaining the most affordable institution of higher education in the Rio Grande Valley."
Selected as the Western Regional CEO awardee, Dr. Rodríguez emerged from a competitive group of nominees spanning 10 U.S. states and five Canadian provinces/ territories, which include Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas, Wyoming, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nunavut Territory, and Northern Territories. The nomination emphasized Dr. Rodríguez's role and contribution to developing innovative programs during his tenure, including TSC's remarkable enrollment growth during the challenging COVID‐19 pandemic. TSC stood out as one of the few institutions of higher education nationally that experienced enrollment growth during this period. "I am honored by this award, and it is a true testament to the hard work and dedication of the entire Scorpion Family," said Rodríguez. "The TSC Board of Trustees leads the way by establishing a vision, strategic priorities, and having the courage to move the college forward with purpose and direction. I then have the great pleasure of working alongside highly talented faculty and staff who are fully committed to our mission of transforming communities."
E D U C A T I O N
Enhance Your Smile *Actual Patient
Daydream Family Dentistry team is dedicated to helping you achieve the smile of your dreams. Cleaning & Prevention Cosmetic Dentistry Tooth Replacement Extractions & Preservation
Mention this ad and receive FREE whitening with cleaning and exam!
519 South Missouri Ave. Weslaco, TX
Oral Appliances Orthodontics Sedation Dentistry Latest Technology
Request an Appointment
(956) 968-6561 daydreamfamilydentistry.com
Gina Rinehart, DDS
Rafael Carrales, DDS
INDUSTRY / WORKFORCE / CULTURE
YOUR MISSION STARTS HERE missionedc.com | 801 N Bryan Rd. Mission, TX 78572 | (956) 585-0040
B U S I N E S S ARTICLE PROVIDED BY
Chief Executive Officer Mission Economic Development Corporation
ON A MISSION
MEDC Leads Efforts to Change the City with Job Creation, Economic Growth
has created jobs and investment opportunities while enhancing the local workforce. And it’s only the beginning. It’s been about a year since the Mission EDC board of directors offered me the opportunity to become chief executive officer. I am honored with the chance to lead a heck of an organization and the CEED. This 55,000-squarefoot building serves as a unique coworking space and business incubator with a food park, microbrewery, and coffee shop. With the leadership and vision of the board led by President Richard Hernandez and Mission Mayor Norie Gonzalez Garza, the Mission EDC has accomplished much in the last year. The Mission EDC’s 14-member team has been efficient and ardent. It is implementing a strategic plan to create more job opportunities for investment and enhance the workforce.
A steel manufacturer. University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Small Business Development Center. The largest padel and pickleball club in Texas. Ten new Center for Education and Economic Development (CEED) Building tenants. A social media marketing firm with a 25-year-old CEO and app developers. Olive Garden, I-HOP, Schlotzsky’s, Starbucks, and more new restaurants, stores, and small businesses are opening in Mission than ever before. First-year anniversary hyperbole? No. Flat out no. In the last 12 months, Mission’s business landscape has been transformed with a diverse group of new firms, local expansions, and the addition of federal inspection facilities at the Anzalduas International Bridge – which will allow commercial cargo to traverse the Rio Grande. The Mission Economic Development Corporation
B U S I N E S S
Home Supply and Burlington stores
These projects and many more also expand the city’s tax base and provide more funding that the city can leverage to give residents more police, parks, and pools. Increased sales taxes from retail stores and restaurants also provide significant funding for the city and Mission EDC. Meanwhile, the city has added about 1,000 new jobs in the lawst 12 months, and it collected $25.3 million in retail sales taxes in FY23 – a record high.
The EDC has also been able to help Mission with policy and legislative advocacy in Austin and Washington by working with partners in groups like the Border Trade Alliance, NASCO, and Rio Grande Valley Partnership. Moreover, the EDC has begun working to market the city and expanded the bridge in Mexico to lure more traffic and investment to the area. A lot has taken place and has been accomplished in the first year. That is for sure. But as I have mentioned, it’s only the beginning for Mission. We have unfinished business. We hope Year 2 can only be so good. #YourMissionStartsHere
· Bettcher Manufacturing (metal): moves HQ to Mission, brings 60 new jobs · Olive Garden Restaurant: $7 million investment, 50 new jobs · RGV Padel Club: to build a $2.7 million sports facility, the largest of its kind in Texas · Shary Town Plaza: a $7 million shopping center with Dunkin’ as a tenant · RODCO Steel Distributors: $9.5 million logistics facility, 20 new jobs · Mission Gateway retail center project: Murdoch’s Ranch &
The Mission EDC is a 4B corporation and serves as the city’s job creation arm. But it’s much more than that. The MEDC assists local small businesses through the Ruby Red Ventures and Downtown Assistance programs and learning workshops at the CEED. Additionally, dozens of community organizations have received financial and inkind assistance from the MEDC. Still, at its core is job and investment creation. The MEDC has used all the tools to recruit new projects for Mission and support the expansion of existing businesses in the city. For example, in the last year, the EDC has announced:
B U S I N E S S
THE VALUE OF REBRANDING How FASTSIGNS® Can Help
b y FASTSIG N S® | p h o t os b y M a r k P u e n t e a n d p r ov i d e d FASTSIGNS® of Harlingen and FASTSIGNS® of McAllen. "It's also an opportunity for a needed refresh." A SIGN OF NO BUSINESS — OR LOW BUSINESS VALUE "The adage – a business with no sign is a sign of no business — is true," said Rose Snell — vibrant, directional, and engaging signage matters. According to a 2022 nationwide survey by FASTSIGNS®, nearly half the respondents, some 47% of those surveyed, said an attractive, inviting sign would make them want to visit a business. Another survey found that 95% of customers consider the appearance of a business when making buying decisions. "It's important to make your business stand out. The business market is very competitive and first impressions are crucial when attracting new customers.," said Snell. Consumers appreciate unique signs that show a business' culture and personality. On the flip side, some customers will only do business with a maintained establishment. Lobby signs are a great way to display your logo, tagline, or other brand elements. These signs will reinforce your brand message and reinforce customer perception. So, what does a business with a peeling marque, missing directional signs, or a windblown banner indicate to potential customers? "A successful rebrand is an investment for small businesses and it can include a complete redesign, but often it's about ensuring a business stays in business and gets even more business from new customers," said FASTSIGNS® owner Rod Snell. Snell's center is an advanced FASTSIGNS® center with a flatbed printer, Mutoh printer, five Epson roll-toroll printers, and a CNC router. For business owners, that means their center can do large-scale rebranding from warehouses to construction sites and hospitals to schools, including ADA signage for larger construction projects. THE FASTSIGNS® EXPERTISE DIFFERENCE One of their most comprehensive projects was
As we approach the New Year, it's time for business owners to set their New Year's resolutions. For many that may include rebranding. Yes, there can be upfront costs, but the cost of not updating can be even more. Rebranding is more than a facelift for a company's logo or color scheme. It's a strategic move that can breathe new life into a business, opening up new markets, attracting a broader audience, and revitalizing a company's image. "Rebranding is an opportunity to strengthen your business's identity, align it more closely with your mission and values and ensure it resonates with both existing and potential customers," said Rose Snell, franchisee of
T he ASAS He a l t h b ui ldi ng i n Ed i nb ur g. Pho to co ur te s y of FAST S I GN S ® .
B U S I N E S S
FAST S I GN S ® McA lle n p r o d ucti on te a m f r o m le f t to righ t: Dimas E stevis, An th on y F l ores, Ch risto Sal in as, T ito A l v a r e z in s t a l l m ana ge r, J os hua Or ne la s , and J aime Garcia, produ ction man ager.
design to installation so there's a real visual solution, not just a completed project. "Rebranding can infuse a sense of freshness and innovation into a business or school or hospital, which can be incredibly attractive to visitors, patients, students or customers," said Rose Snell. "Rebranding is a journey, and at FASTSIGNS®, we're with our clients every step of the way."
FAST SI GN S® Harl in gen produ ction team from l eft to righ t: Leroy Cortez, E ric Arias, Odwin Leal produ ction man ager, an d Ben jamin F l ores.
with ASAS Health in Edinburg, which included colorful dimensional exterior signage and branding that carried through the medical office building. "FASTSIGNS® truly transformed our space. Their expertise in signage helped create a warm and inviting environment that resonates with our commitment to health care excellence," said owner Monzer Yazji, M.D. FACP. Working with individuals like Dr. Yazji and other business owners who have high standards is what the FASTSIGNS® team finds most rewarding. "FASTSIGNS® truly transformed my vision into reality," said Dr. Yazji. "It's about more than just signage; it's about bringing their vision to life and contributing to their success. This is what truly matters to us at FASTSIGNS®," said Rod Snell. The difference customers with FASTSIGNS® also note is not just the signage but the team that makes projects happen, including their install manager, Tito Alvarez, who has been with the McAllen center for 25 years. "Every installation is a unique challenge and an opportunity," said Alvarez. "Our team knows what it takes to get a job done, we work together, we care about the finished project and every customer and design matters to us." THE BENEFITS OF REBRANDING Rebranding can also provide a competitive edge by differentiating a business from its competitors. "A distinctive brand sets you apart. It's your business's signature," said Rose Snell. "It's much more than banners and signs," said Snell, whose advanced center provides everything from logo design to project management, pulling permits, and more. The teams at FASTSIGNS® of McAllen and FASTSIGNS® of Harlingen walk customers through the process from
FAA UAS/Licensed and Insured
SOUTH TEXAS AERIAL MAPPING PROVIDER Upgrade your survey game with accurate, detailed topographic surveys and high-definition map imagery. Eliminate relying on outdated Google Earth, inaccurate elevation data, and waiting months for your TOPO results. Get fast turnaround times of 1-2 weeks on projects up to 1000 acres. Our services cater to land developers, civil engineers, surveyors, architects, and construction contractors, saving you time and money and putting your project ahead of schedule!
AERIAL THERMAL MAPPING & SURVEYING JOEY CEPEDA 956-648-8409 MAPPING@RGVHIGHDEF.COM
SUPER FOODS SUPER SHORT HOME OR GYM WORKOUTS LONG TERM RESULTS NOT SHORT TERM WE KEEP OUR RESULTS WITH
Scan Here to Watch Video
Joey Cepeda Partner ID 276490 getﬁt@GetFitAF.info www.GetFitAF.info 956-648-8409
*Results vary based on eﬀort and following BODi’s healthy eating plan. Joey is an Independent BODi Partner.
B U S I N E S S
B U S I N E S S
J E F A
Ana D. González Transforming Education in the Rio Grande Valley
. RGVISION MAGAZINE
degree while substitute teaching. In 1997, she graduated and began teaching at her alma mater, Lyndon B. Johnson Middle School, where she taught for eight years. Driven by her passion for learning, she furthered her education by earning a graduate degree in educational leadership. "I knew I wanted to lead outside of my classroom; I wanted to lead a school. I recognized that a lot of inequities still existed even though I had experienced a successful journey and some of my students were very successful, there were still some things happening to kids that needed to be different." In 2008, González became the founding principal of T-STEM Early College High School, a pioneering institution in the statewide early college high school initiative that offers first-generation college students the opportunity to earn an associate degree tuition-free while still in high school. With the collaboration of her district and the wider community, González's inaugural graduating class achieved a minimum of 12 college credit hours, and nearly 70% of the graduates received an associate degree. "What kept me going for those three years," González said during her time as the founding principal at T-STEM, "was knowing that we were helping families who really needed to save money, motivating kids to see their fullest potential, and putting them on a generational, lifechanging trajectory." Following her principalship, González became a part of
Over the past 15 years, the educational landscape of the Rio Grande Valley has undergone a transformative change. As the Executive Director of Teach For America, a non-profit organization that focuses on educational leadership at the national level, Ana D. González has been dedicated to improving the educational landscape of the Rio Grande Valley community. With her collaborative approach and unwavering commitment, she has worked alongside community stakeholders to bring about a structural and systemic shift in education, making a positive impact on countless students' lives. González was inspired to pursue education by her parents from a young age. Her academic achievements during her K-12 years motivated her to aspire for higher education and diverse experiences beyond the Valley. However, she also became aware of how young people in her community are often discouraged from pursuing educational goals. "A lot of the things that happen to many young Latina girls happened to me," González said. "I had someone who I admired very much within the educational system tell me very directly, 'Why do you want to go away to college? You can stay here. You are pretty enough to find someone who will take care of you.' I believed that." González married at a young age and became a mother, but her passion for education never faded. Even though she considered herself a late bloomer, she pursued a college
b y So fi a La nz a | p h ot os b y B á r b a r a D e l g a d o
B U S I N E S S
"To have been even a small part of the transformation in the Rio Grande Valley and the various capacities I've had the opportunity to serve in that, to me, is success."
Ana D. G o nz á l ez , Exe cuti v e D i rector of Teach For America
the leadership team in the Pharr-San JuanAlamo Independent School District. Working closely with Teach For America and other educational partners, González introduced the New Teacher Institute and a coaching model that yielded an instructional coach for every campus in the district. "I knew the challenges that principals face and the systemic hurdles that principals have to overcome. This role gave me the opportunity to support the next layer of folks that I love within the educational system, and that's teachers and principals." In 2014, González joined Teach For America RGV staff supporting instructional coaches. After three years, she was promoted to the position of executive director. She has been serving in this role for over six years and continues to ask herself, "What is next for students and for our families in the Rio Grande Valley?" While working in the RGV education system, González has seen and contributed to dramatic positive changes in student outcomes. Graduation rates in the RGV now surpass the state average, with all school districts earning A or B ratings in 2022. González attributes this success to "relational change." "Critical stakeholders in the RGV decided that we were going to come together to solve our high dropout rates because nobody is going to come to save us. We have to do it. We came up with a shared vision that every learner in the RGV was going to graduate and was going to get some sort of dual credit."
González spearheaded a data-driven model for structural and systemic change implemented in the RGV over the last decade. As Executive Director, González continues to use this model. Teach For America RGV is bringing in the next generation of leaders. Finding, supporting, and developing a high-quality teacher pipeline continues to be a lever that has a positive academic impact for students in the RGV. "How we support teachers or not support teachers determines whether they stay or we lose them," González said. In response to the pandemic and broader societal trends, Teach For America RGV reimagined its teacher support model, emphasizing the development of educators who implement digital and innovative practices to support students, with a strong focus on adaptability to address students' academic and social-emotional needs. Under González's leadership, Teach For America RGV runs its own teacher development and retention programs, convenes key stakeholders across institutions and participates in critical regional collaborations supporting schools and students. For González, success does not encompass what she has done individually; rather, success is all about what has been done collectively. "To have been even a small part of the transformation in the Rio Grande Valley and the various capacities I've had the opportunity to serve in that, to me, is success."
B U S I N E S S
B U S I N E S S
EZ-SCAPE MAKING GRASS EASY Bringing Artificial Turf to the Valley
b y Ra fa el Mend o z a - F a r i a s J r. | p h ot os p r ov i d e d
could lead to problems such as improper drainage, which can cause stagnant water. "To do it properly, it's a full like excavation and then reinstallation of proper drainage rock and edging and you know laying down the turf a certain way, it's kind of an art to get it right," said Stewart A benefit of artificial turf is its ease of use, allowing people to spend a greater time enjoying their yard rather than caring for it. No mess is involved; it has no dirt, needs no fertilizer, and does not require trimming. "People in general, when they're home, they want to be enjoying their outside. They don't want to be messing with bugs. They want to be playing, watching their kids play without getting muddy and all that kind of stuff. So just the sentiment around like, I'm home, we don't have to worry about it. It always looks good. Let's play, have fun," said Stewart. Artificial grass's durability is a further advantage, making it impervious to the weather. In the summer or winter, it will remain green. Even beneath the Texas sun,
Artificial grass is a synthetic substitute for regular grass, meant to be more durable, easier to maintain, and always look aesthetically pleasing. Despite a higher upfront cost than regular grass, its advantages make it cheaper over time, increasing property value where it is installed. The artificial grass industry has been growing across the U.S. for some time. However, it was only when Josh Stewart founded EZ-Scape, a company specializing in the professional installment of synthetic turf that had reached South Texas. Stewart's inspiration for the company came from wanting artificial turf at his home and being disappointed no one in the region installed it professionally. "I started looking into the industry as a whole, globally, the artificial grass industry as a whole and saw that it was kind of exploding in different regions of the U.S., different parts of the world and wondered why it wasn't down where we are," said Stewart. Proper installation of artificial grass is crucial for its functioning and appearance. If not correctly installed, it
. RGVISION MAGAZINE
EZ-Scape's installations come with a warranty, backing up their service. "All the products mostly come with 15-year warranties turf-wise but that doesn't really matter unless it gets registered with the manufacturer. We have the capability to register the product. So, if anything happens, if we need to fulfill something warranty-wise, your product is registered, and it gets handled," said Garcia. EZ-Scape currently stands as a local business but offers services beyond the Rio Grande. FieldTurf is a global company, so they can connect with installers to install the grass anywhere. "We can serve all of the Rio Grande Valley, that's branched out to all of South Texas. We've done a couple of projects in San Antonio, Laredo, Roma, and Corpus. Full installs, like turnkey installations from just landscape turf to putting greens to playgrounds to sports fields. We just did our first project in San Diego, California, and we're about to do our first couple in Mexico," said Stewart. For more information, call 956-707-1418 or visit their site at ez-scape.com.
for it does not need watering. This also makes it more economical, as it does not need watering, saving on water costs. A critical aspect in Texas, where dry weather is experienced, water restrictions prevent individuals from watering their grass. Synthetic grass is also very easy to clean. With porous backings through which liquids can easily pass through, water drains to the soil underneath. This makes it very low maintenance, where such is limited to blowing, rinsing with a hose, and brushing. It is also a pet-friendly surface and can be easily cleaned. A special feature EZ-Scape offers their clients is 3-D model renderings of the client's property with synthetic turf installed. They were demonstrating how the turf would look when installed. "We're offering a 3-D design aspect that we can show people before committing to doing all this. You can visualize what everything is going to look like," said Stewart. EZ-Scape is a licensed distributor of FieldTurf, a global leader in the artificial grass industry. This means that all of
B U S I N E S S
B U S I N E S S
I n J u n e, t h e B r o w n s v il le s hi p cha nne l ho s te d a f as ci na ti n g j uxt a p o s it io n o f t w o c onta i ne r s hi p s . One w as r e ce ntly b uil t an d t h e o t h e r is a r r iv in g f o r r e cycli ng. Pa s ha H aw ai i ’s ne w MV Jan et M a ri e d o c ke d a t S e a t r i um A m FELS’ s hi p yar d . At the s am e time, Si gne t M a r it im e’s t u g b o a ts tow e d Pas ha ’s r e ti r e d SV H o rizon Pa c i f ic t o b e r t h a t SA Re cycli ng/ Ste e lCo a s t.
MODERN MARVELS Legacy Industries Repurpose the Past and Build the Present b y Po r t o f B r own s v i l l e | p h ot o p r ov i d e d the primary shipbuilding port of Texas. In 2022, one of the three major ship recycling companies at the port, SteelCoast, merged with SA Recycling to become the company’s only ship recycling facility in the United States, employing 237 employees. For over 30 years, Keppel AmFELS, now known as Seatrium AmFELS, has been the top fabricator of jackups, oil platforms, and vessels, including containerships and wind turbine installation vessels, providing thousands of jobs to the region. Currently, AmFELS employs 1,800 workers at the port, contributing to the local economy.
In June, two containerships crossing paths at the Port of Brownsville’s 17-mile-long ship channel illustrated the modern-day ship life cycle. As Pasha Hawaii’s newly completed MV Janet Marie container ship docked at Seatrium AmFELS’ shipyard, Pasha’s retired SV Horizon Pacific containership was drawn by Signet Maritime’s tug boats to berth at SA Recycling/SteelCoast for recycling. Known as the premiership recycling port of the United States, securing 85% of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) and U.S. Navy contracts, the Port of Brownsville is also
B U S I N E S S
UPCOMING EVENTS FRIDAY NOVEMBER 3 SATURDAY NOVEMBER 4 SUNDAY NOVEMBER 5 SATURDAY NOVEMBER 11 SAT-SUN NOVEMBER 11-12 THURSDAY NOVEMBER 16
MON-TUE NOVEMBER 20-21 FRIDAY DECEMBER 1 SAT-SUN DECEMBER 9-10
FRIDAY NOVEMBER 17
site team members, who have proven once more that shipbuilding and ingenuity are alive and well in the United States,” said Pasha Group President and CEO George Pasha, IV, in a press release announcing the delivery of the Janet Marie. Skilled trades play an integral part in the shipbuilding and ship recycling industries. Welders, fitters, and electricians are in demand to complete projects at the port. Crews at Seatrium AmFELS and SA Recycling/ SteelCoast are willing to learn and build upon their skill sets. “Eighty-five percent of our workforce is from the Rio Grande Valley,” said Seatrium AmFELS Senior Marketing Manager KhonWhey Tay. “It is not an easy industry, and we provide the opportunity to train and continually build on these vessels.” SA Recycling/SteelCoast Regional General Manager Mark Hodgson detailed that while the company’s primary client is MARAD, commercial recycling contracts like Pasha Hawaii’s Horizon Pacific provide a steady lineup of work. “We currently have three projects ongoing with another four en route to carry us in to 2025,” Hodgson said. “It is our goal to provide long-range employment and employment growth at our facility.” The Port of Brownsville has earned the reputation of being the final berthing place for U.S. Navy aircraft carriers and other retired warships. Since 2014, the port has seen the arrival of six aircraft carriers for recycling. SA Recycling/SteelCoast completed the USS Saratoga in 2019. The USS Forrestal, USS Constellation, USS Ranger, USS Independence, and USS Kitty Hawk are part of the exclusive and growing family of aircraft carriers that have made their final voyage to the Port of Brownsville. The USS John F. Kennedy will soon join this respected list of retired warships recycled in South Texas. SA Recycling/SteelCoast Regional Financial Officer Albert Garcia said partnering with the port, local educational institutions, and other key stakeholders makes a difference. “It takes a community to make businesses successful, the port and the city have done a great job in supporting the work we do,” said Garcia.
THURSDAY DECEMBER 28
@MCACONVENTIONS 956.681.3800 experiencemcallen.com ticketmaster.com
In 2016, the company pivoted from the oil and gas industry into Jones Act shipbuilding. Under the Jones Act, all cargo that travels by sea between two U.S. ports must be transported on ships built, owned, and operated only by U.S. citizens. AmFELS has been making big waves recently in the shipbuilding industry, landing the contracts to build two containerships for Pasha Hawaii, the first Jones Act-compliant offshore wind turbine installation vessel for Dominion Energy, the largest highspecification Trailing Suction Hopper Dredge (TSHD) in the U.S. for Manson Construction Co., among other projects. The construction of deep draft vessels is found nowhere else in the Lone Star State but in Brownsville. During the oil and gas slowdown, Seatrium AmFELS looked to diversify its product line. President Kelvin Fok explained the company’s journey into the Jones Act shipbuilding market. “Pasha Hawaii came to us interested in building two 2,525 TEUs Dual Fuel Containerships. Seatrium AmFELS jumped on this opportunity, leveraging our group’s strength and came up with a design that met the needs of our customer. Seatrium AmFELS had previously built smaller ships before, but George III and Janet Marie are much bigger in size,” said Fok. In 2019, AmFELS partnered with the Port of Brownsville to construct a Public Vessel Assembly and Erection Pad. The U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration supplied a $1.8 million grant to the port to fund the project, which totaled $5.3 million. The two new 774-foot U.S. Jones Act vessels, George III and Janet Marie were built on the vessel assembly and erection pad. The containerships were designed to carry 2,525 TEUs, including a fully laden capacity of 500 45-foot containers, 400 refrigerated containers, and 300 40-foot dry containers, with a sailing speed of 23.0 knots. Both vessels were built to service Pasha Hawaii’s Hawaii/Mainland trade lane. The George III began service on Aug. 17, 2022, and the Janet Marie was delivered in July of this year. “We are extremely proud of the perseverance and commitment of our partners at AmFELS, and the skilled men and women at the shipyard, including our own on-
UNSPENT DENTAL BENEFITS? IT'S NOW OR NEVER! • MAXIMIZE YOUR BENEFITS BEFORE DECEMBER 31ST! • CLAIM YOUR 2023 SMILE SAVINGS BEFORE THEY'RE GONE!
ADULT PPO PATIENTS RECEIVE A *FREE TEETH WHITENING KIT! MAXIMIZE YOUR BENEFITS BEFORE DECEMBER 31ST! • *ONLY AVAILABLE FOR ADULT PPO PATIENTS 21 AND UP
! N O O S G N I COM 3 2 0 2 r winte
7600 N 10th St Ste 800D, McAllen, TX 78504
H E A L T H ARTICLE PROVIDED BY
Alfonso Mercado PH.D., Licensed Psychologist Department of Psychological Science at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley www.utrgv.edu/multicultural-clinical-lab/
HOLIDAY MENTAL HEALTH
Watching Your Mental Health While Traveling This Holiday Season
fee, travel insurance can help cover the unforeseen expenses common after a flight disruption. Try to take flights in the morning with a preference for non-stop, direct flights. Morning flights are less likely to be delayed; the fewer stops you make, the lower your chances of such disruptions. Suppose you have to make an unexpected overnight layover. In that case, it might be a good idea to scope out possible hotel stays at your layover cities ahead of time. Doing so can even give you a head start over other scrambling travelers.
There is no question that visiting loved ones during the holiday season is among the best stress reliefs of the year. It entails taking an often much-needed break from work to catch up with friends and family, have great feasts, and share memorable laughs. The actual traveling itself, however, leaves much to be desired. The common flight delays and cancellations are likely to leave you frustrated. Meanwhile, the long wait times and airports crowded with irritable travelers will leave you bored or tense. As you begin planning your holiday travels, what can you do to care for your mental health and ensure you can greet loved ones with a warm smile?
KEEP UP THE HOLIDAY SPIRIT
Waiting at the gate for your next flight can be beyond mind-numbing. No matter how excited you are to visit loved ones, when you start traveling, sitting for several hours and only getting up intermittently to move to a new seat can quickly eat at your enthusiasm. What can you do to counteract this? You might find success in grounding yourself in the wholesome moments waiting for you at your destination. Consider calling your loved ones to update them on your journey and discuss the fun activities planned on arrival. If your loved ones are not available, you can still take advantage of your free time to make surprise plans,
PREPARE FOR THE WORST
One of the fundamental principles of cognitive behavioral therapy is that, while you can’t control the circumstances around you, you can control the thoughts and behaviors you experience in response to these circumstances. In your case, whether your flights are delayed or canceled is out of your hands. What you can do is mentally prepare and plan for such a scenario, avoiding the sudden panic of frantically shifting plans. Consider travel insurance. It’s worth it! For an additional
H E A L T H
MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES
SAT-SUN NOVEMBER 11-12 WED-FRI NOVEMBER 15-17 SATURDAY NOVEMBER 18 THURSDAY NOVEMBER 30 FRI-SAT DECEMBER 1-30 THURSDAY DECEMBER 14
Texas Tropical Behavioral Health Crisis Hotline: 1-877-289-7199 Lifeline prevention number: 9-8-8 (Talk or text) UTRGV Psychology Clinic / Clinica de Psicologia (956) 665-8800 (Co-Authors include Dr. Mercado’s Mental Health Lab at UTRGV: Francisco Banda, Andy Torres, Frances Morales, & Amanda Palomin)
@MCACONVENTIONS 956.681.3800 experiencemcallen.com ticketmaster.com
Another well-recognized principle of psychology is the profound relationship between your mind and body; the healthiness or unhealthiness of one can push the other in the same direction. For this reason, taking care of your mental health while traveling can mean taking care of your body just as well. Food and drink at airports are often sold at inflated prices. Nevertheless, it is worth purchasing if you feel starved or parched. Not doing so could lead to mind fog, irritability, and headaches. Taking a break from sitting to walk around the airport and browse the many stores—even if you don’t buy anything— is a convenient way to keep your body active and kill time between flights. Finally, it is a good idea to pack a neck pillow and blanket when you travel to avoid any sore muscles or cold discomfort. The holiday season can be a major highlight for many of us. However, depending on the circumstance, it can also be a peak of mental distress. We’ve discussed the frustrations of holiday travel. Still, one might also feel depression because of loneliness and guilt or financial stress over the pressure to buy gifts for loved ones, for example. If you find yourself celebrating the holidays
SATURDAY NOVEMBER 11
STAY ACTIVE AND HEALTHY
alone, consider exploring community events where you can connect and celebrate with new people. Introverts might find similar excitement by engaging in new hobbies at home. While the temptation to get loved ones costly gifts can sometimes be overpowering, remember that friends and family almost always appreciate gifts from the heart and moments together above lofty price tags. And regardless of your worries, mindfulness— whether through meditation, journaling, or even yoga—is generally very beneficial. Holistic mental health care means keeping an eye on your well-being even in happy moments where you might be surprised to find you’re the most vulnerable. Whether you’re traveling or not this holiday season, check in on yourself, your emotions, and cognitions. It might be the key to making your holiday season even more enjoyable and memorable.
such as researching some potential eateries or community events your loved ones might enjoy.
THURSDAY NOVEMBER 9
H E A L T H
DEDICATED TO LIMB
LOSS PREVENTION South Texas Health System Edinburg Launches Cardiac Cath Lab to Detect and Treat Peripheral Artery Disease
b y Sel ene Gu e r r e r o | p h ot os p r ov i d e d In a groundbreaking move toward enhanced cardiovascular and limb health, South Texas Health System (STHS) Edinburg recently launched its state-ofthe-art Cardiac Catheterization Lab. This impressive $6 million lab will help revolutionize cardiovascular care in the Rio Grande Valley, offering comprehensive diagnostic services for heart-related issues and enhanced limb salvage solutions for a population affected by peripheral artery disease (PAD), a leading cause of non-traumatic amputations in the United States. This condition, characterized by the narrowing of vessels that supply blood to the limbs, often results in painful wounds, gangrene, and, in severe cases, amputations. The Rio Grande Valley, specifically Hidalgo County, bears the weight of the second-highest rate of such amputations in the state, and STHS is determined to reverse this alarming trend. “Peripheral artery disease is caused by the same thing that causes coronary artery disease, which is basically a buildup of plaque on the wall of the artery,” said Dr.
Ofsman Quintana, a cardiologist with STHS Clinics and the STHS Edinburg STHS Cardiac Cath Lab director. “If a patient needs to be treated, we take images of those arteries, then treat with either balloons, stents and other devices, or surgery. That’s the importance of this Cath Lab because we conduct diagnostic testing and then decide the best treatment for the patient.” Led by Dr. Quintana, the STHS Cardiac Cath Lab brings hope to patients grappling with cardiovascular issues and hard-to-heal limb wounds. Dr. Quintana heads a team of physicians and staff committed to providing patients with the highest standard of care. They are offering a lifeline to those affected by PAD and advocating for increased awareness and education to prevent patients from reaching the point of amputation. Dr. Quintana added that once a patient does have an amputation, their five-year mortality rate is more than 60%. “We must educate people that it’s not just amputating one leg because you have to. It’s going to shorten your life span.”
“Amputation can be prevented up to 80% if you come in early and begin receiving treatment; it’ll help avoid horrible complications.” The lab features advanced diagnostic equipment to assess and monitor a patient’s cardiovascular health. Using minimally invasive techniques, the team can identify blockages, assess blood flow, and evaluate the severity of PAD. These services are essential in the early detection and management of the disease, which will prevent further complications. The Cath Lab is specially designed to tackle challenges posed by PAD. It offers limb salvage services that prevent amputations by treating and healing wounds caused by compromised blood flow. “We have very sophisticated equipment that integrates a lot of things,” Dr. Quintana said. “It’s all top-of-the-line equipment, and honestly, I have worked with several cath labs, and this is the best I’ve seen.” “There are different modalities, and STHS Edinburg has pretty much everything we need to treat those complex patients.” STHS’ Cardiac Catheterization Lab is a lifeline for individuals affected by PAD in the Rio Grande Valley. Dr. Quintana and his team work tirelessly to heal wounds, restore limb function, and raise awareness about the consequences of untreated diabetes and cardiovascular conditions. Through increased education and early detection, Dr. Quintana hopes to reduce the impacts of PAD and bring about a healthier, more vibrant Rio Grande Valley. “It is important to work on prevention and early detection. We will save lives and improve a patient’s quality of life.”
D r. O f s m a n Q u i n t a n a , ST HS Cl in ics cardiol ogist an d th e ST HS E din bu rg ST HS Cardiac Cath Lab director
“It is important to work on prevention and early detection. We will save lives and improve a patient’s quality of life.”
H E A L T H
H E A L T H
MESQUITE TREATMENT CENTER Offering Recovery for Adolescents Struggling with Addiction
by Ra fa el M end o z a -Fa r i a s Jr. | p h o to s b y M a r k P u e n t e Mesquite Treatment Center was opened in 2006 by Laura Lisa Garza. It offers an intensive outpatient program for male and female adolescents and an intensive residential treatment program for males ages 13-17. The outpatient program lets patients continue their daily lives, incorporating therapy and counseling into their routine. While for residential treatment, patients live on-site, at the disposal of 24-hour care and supervision. Mesquite can assess each individual on a case-by-case basis and recommend the best route of care. At Mesquite, their high-end residential facility is equipped with 20 beds. It sits on 17 acres of beautiful
ranch land away from the rumble of the city. It is ornate with green scenery and livestock, which creates a haven of security meant to establish a reposeful environment conducive to rehabilitation. "Take them away from the environment they are coming from, which is often not very positive, not very supportive, and bring them to an environment that is away from everything. It allows them to focus on themselves, discover life skills, certain skills that can help them in their future endeavors, from getting a resume done, applying for a job, and being productive citizens,” said Garcia. There are countless amenities provided at the center
to be more understanding, know how to communicate effectively, understand how to implement boundaries, and develop the workings of a healthy home,” said Garcia. In addition to furthering interfamilial connections, Mesquite seeks to promote the patient’s relationships with their communities, enabling them to access resources conducive to maintaining their well-being outside their treatment period. "The goal is when the resident transitions out of the program, Mesquite Treatment Center will connect them with different resources the client is in need of,” said Garcia. For more information, call Mesquite Treatment Center at (956) 428-2100 or visit their website at mtcrgv.com.
to help not only nurture life skills but also cultivate new interests among the residents. Eventually, residents will return to the world, more often than not, to the same environment from which they came. Having new interests can play a significant role in keeping post-discharge patients away from the lure of substances. “At the facility, residents can go fishing, there are walking trails that can be done, sports like football and basketball. There are team-building activities that counselors do with the patients. Another amenity is Jujitsu, there is an instructor that teaches the residents not just about the sport but about responsibility, discipline, the value of a workout and sweating, how to work as a team and create a family,” said Garcia. A powerful activity conducted at the treatment center is recording each resident’s personal story, narrated by themselves, for it creates a sense of value and resilience within the patients. “At the center, patients can record their story, share it with people they will never meet, and make an impact. It teaches the residents that their life can be used as a platform. Teaching the patients that they are still here despite all that they may have gone through,” said Garcia. A big emphasis at Mesquite is educating parents on how they can contribute to the patient’s recovery. Parents are critical in developing a positive environment for the patients, a crucial element in post-recovery, where they won't feel drawn to their former way of life. Often, homes lack an emotional connection between family members. "Every home has a deficiency of something to some degree. Many times in a family, patients long for connectivity; even though they live under the same roof, the family is not connected with one another, so because there is a longing to connect, they have a need inside. If they are not able to connect with the family, then on the street, they are able to connect with somebody,” said Garcia. To resolve this matter, Mesquite tells the parents and guardians that while the resident is in treatment, they need to develop a plan at home for when they return to build a more connected household. "Teaching parents that while a patient is undergoing treatment at Mesquite, they are working on a plan at home to change things in their household, changing the structure, changing the way things are run. Sometimes, they have to downsize. Sometimes, they need to change their workplaces because the patients need them to be present. We need them to be involved. We need them
H E A L T H
H E A L T H ARTICLE PROVIDED BY
Dr. Rafael Carrales Daydream Family Dentistry daydreamfamilydentistry.com 956-968-6561
DENTAL INSURANCE No dental insurance? No problem!
It’s the most wonderful time of year. Fall has arrived. Holiday festivities, office parties, black Friday shopping, and if you have dental insurance, your insurance benefits might be about to expire. If you have dental insurance, each month you pay a premium. If you don't use it, it does not renew or carry over to the following year. If you did not use the benefits, you just paid for an entire year of protection, and that’s about to end on Dec 31, 2023. Going, going, gone. Of those insured adults, 30% do not file a single claim within the year. This means that they never use their dental insurance. Out of those who use their dental insurance, 70% end up paying more than they would have to if they didn’t have insurance. After copays, coinsurance, and premiums, the total exceeds the market value of their dental care. TYPES OF TRADITIONAL DENTAL INSURANCE
Dental health maintenance organization (DHMO): These plans have much lower premiums, but one must choose a primary dentist from a network of providers. Preferred provider organization (PPO): PPOs allow more flexibility when choosing a dentist, but you pay less if you visit in-network providers. Fee-For-Service (FFS) or Indemnity Plans: These plans allow you to see any dentist but often have higher premiums and require upfront payments. COVERAGE DETAILS
When an insurance plan states that they offer “basic coverage” that usually helps with preventative care, x-rays, and fillings, major coverage varies
H E A L T H
with each company and typically covers treatment at a percentage. For example, 50% paid by insurance, 50% paid by guest/patient, plus you pay the deductible for the year. It is important to review the coverage details of each plan, which include deductibles, annual maximums, waiting periods, and covered treatments. Without insurance, one may end up paying more for services.
MAXIMIZING YOUR DENTAL INSURANCE
If you have insurance, take advantage and get all your regular check-ups and cleanings usually covered at 100%. Prevention is key. · Understand Your Coverage: Read the policy carefully to know what is covered and what isn’t. · Know Your Annual Maximum and Deductible: This directly affects your out-of-pocket costs.
When deciding on the type of insurance to purchase, assessing your needs and considering your oral health history, frequency of dental visits, and anticipated dental procedures is important. Dental insurance can be a valuable tool in maintaining oral health, but it can also be costly if it is not used yearly or is a poor plan. To make the most of your plan, it is recommended to educate yourself about its details, prioritize preventative care, and make the most of your yearly benefits, as they do not renew. By understanding the various coverage options, assessing your needs, and comparing plans, you can find the right plan that suits your oral health requirements and budget. Investing in oral health is a great way to improve your smile’s longevity and overall well-being. Happy Holidays! To schedule a consultation, contact Daydream Family Dentistry at 956-968-6561 or visit daydreamfamilydentistry. com.
In-office memberships: In-office memberships are the better alternative to traditional insurance. They offer exclusive membership. While the specifics vary, the general idea is that the patient pays the dentist or dental office a fixed amount for the plan annually or monthly. Preventive services are usually covered at no charge, and any other procedures (other than preventive) are then offered at a discounted rate. With in-office memberships, there’s no waiting period, no deductible to meet, and no annual maximum. The plan design and cost are dentist-specific.
· In Network or Out of Network: Out of network, you may pay more; in network, you may pay less, but there is usually a reason for that. · Going through your dentist can cut out wasted money spent on “the middle man,” which is traditional insurance. · Preauthorization: Obtain preauthorization from your insurer to avoid unexpected costs. · Utilize flex spending accounts (FSA) or (HSA) health savings accounts.
H E A L T H
RAPID CARE RGVISION MAGAZINE
New Collaboration at Valley Baptist-Harlingen Streamlines Pulmonary Embolism Treatment b y M a t t Ly n ch
For many medical emergencies, a matter of minutes can make a difference in positive outcomes for patients. A pulmonary embolism, described as a blood clot that clogs or blocks an artery leading to one of the lungs, can often be one such condition. But through teamwork, technology, and improved communication, Valley Baptist Medical Center-Harlingen clinical teams are working together to diagnose and treat patients with life-threatening pulmonary embolisms faster than ever before, said cardiologist Dr. Danielle Stone.
Stone is the driving force behind the creation of Valley Baptist-Harlingen’s pulmonary embolism response team. The team, which includes clinical staff ranging from the ER to imaging services, cardiologists, and staff in the hospital’s cardiac catheterization lab, is designed to rapidly diagnose potential pulmonary embolism patients arriving in the ER and determine the best treatment. “The pulmonary embolism response team was developed to treat patients that come into the ER suffering from a large clot in one of their lungs,” Stone said. “These
patients can be incredibly unstable, since the clot can be putting a lot of stress on the right side of the heart.” Once a pulmonary embolism is suspected, the response team is activated. It works through a set of protocols to provide the most comprehensive course of treatment for each patient. Images of a patient’s chest are taken to reveal the location and size of the clot. In the coming months, artificial intelligence from Viz.Ai will be integrated to help assess the risk the embolism poses to the patient. Stone said that rapidly determining the severity of the clot helps plot the course of treatment for each patient. Treatments can vary from utilizing medication to break a clot up over time or using procedures coupled with precise imaging to remove the clot, called mechanical thrombectomy, physically. “The results and the images will be sent directly to us via our cell phones so that we will be able to fully evaluate the size of the right side of the heart, the patient’s background, and the burden the clot is placing on the patient’s cardiovascular system,” Stone said. “With all the information available to us, we will be able to quickly decide if we can treat the patient with medication or if they require immediate mechanical thrombectomy.” Stone said similar response protocols are in place at Valley Baptist-Harlingen to provide rapid care for other critical medical conditions, such as stroke. “For example, when a code ‘stroke’ is called, it starts a process to expedite care for the patient, because time is critical,” she said. “We’ve worked hard to educate our teams and establish similar protocols to get these patients rapidly through the ER and on to the best treatment for their situation.” Stone said that developments such as the formation of the pulmonary embolism response team are critical to addressing the health care needs of communities throughout the Rio Grande Valley. “This is all about working together to address the needs and the health of our community,” she said. “At a hospital, you can have a lot of moving parts, and it’s important that we all work together to provide the highest quality care for our patients.”
“This is all about working together to address the needs and the health of our community. At a hospital, you can have a lot of moving parts, and it’s important that we all work together to provide the highest quality care for our patients.”
Dr. D a n i e l l e St on e, cardiol ogist
H E A L T H
We will fight & protect your rights after an injury. FREE CONSULTATIONS AVAILABLE Client’s Choice Award 2020 Alyssa Lorena Romero
Super Lawyers Alyssa L. Romero
SELECTED IN 2020 & 2022 THOMSON REUTERS
Follow Us gflawoffices.com 956-800-4340 || 5211 S. McColl Street, Suite F Edinburg, TX 78539 956-621-0959 || 134 E. Price Rd.; Brownsville, Texas 78521
H E A L T H
NEXT LEVEL CARE Dr. Opaneye Brings a Wealth of Experience to RGV
by N a tha nie l Ma ta | p h o to s b y Ja mes Ho rd
H E A L T H
We're basically bringing a surgery center into the office while obeying all the same protocols as you will find within a hospital facility. I understand people in the Valley may not want to go to the hospital, it can be a scary experience. We make it less scary and bring them to the clinic. It doesn't mean we aren't doing things in a safe way. We're just trying to demystify the whole process."
Dr. Kare Opaneye is a prime example of exemplary care and attention to detail that Rodeo stands firm by. Not only has he earned his DDS, but he also has a Master of Public Health Degree from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, and postdoc training at Harvard School of Dental Medicine in his adopted home of Boston, Massachusetts, with his focus on patient safety and treatment outcome measures. He decided to specialize in pediatric dentistry and spent time at Boston Children's Hospital to garner pertinent experience that will impact his practice. Originally from Nigeria's capital, Lagos, Dr. Opaneye says that this area has a lot of similarities with his birthplace in Western Africa. "It reminds me of home," Dr. Opaneye said. "The close family units where multiple generations live very close to each other and there is a tremendous need for pediatric dentistry, so I am at the right place at the right time." He explained his choice to specialize in the care of young patients. "I'm a dentist by original training but usually a dentist chose multiple specialties and I chose taking care of children," he said. He also explained how his degree in public health allows him to view dental care holistically, watching regional trends rather than each patient as an isolated case. "If you fix a particular kid that has a cavity and don't look at the trend, you just help one person," he said. "But if you are in a community and you take a step back, you can see what is causing an issue. The Valley is a perfect location because you can understand the culture and the diet at the same time, and your impact is even greater." He spoke about the Valley being a "perfect" match and an area that reminded him of home in Lagos. This area is bustling with growth and advancement. Dr. Opaneye is passionate, enjoys clinical care of pediatric patients, and works with fellow dentists to review, refine, and improve dental care nationwide. He is an active member of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, a Board member of the Texas Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Dental Association, and the Institute of Healthcare Improvement. "You can have some providers who just want to put a crown on everything but aren't necessarily interested in preventing a child from having cavities, enduring pain, limiting parents from missing work," he said. "I think this is a location where my expertise is needed and I can impact my patients and the extended community." One area that he applauds Rodeo Dental & Orthodontics is adding an important offering to its core services. "Rodeo Dental & Orthodontics is one of the leading providers of safely executed In-office-based general anesthesia," he said. "We're able to offer extensive comprehensive dental work that children need in a safe, predictable environment, in the office.
IMPROVING DENTAL OUTCOMES IN THE RGV
Part of Dr. Opaneye's approach to public health and health improvement is pulling at problems from the root, the source. One of his main concerns is young children and their families skipping H20 in exchange for other drinks. "There is a tremendous amount of milk being consumed in the Valley," he said. "We are trying to encourage and educate parents and the grandparents, and sometimes they are the one taking care of the child, milk is not a substitute for water. It does not quench thirst, water works wonders. Having the kid sleep with a bottle overnight with something sweet like juice or milk cooks up the teeth and that's where a majority of cavities are coming from." While it can be a complex topic, he said that breakthroughs are being made with many patients and families. "When I started practice in this area and trying to connect with this topic, there was about a 5% connection rate with patients, and now that is up to about 50%," Dr. Opaneye said. Dr. Opaneye is one of many healthcare professionals working hard to improve outcomes for residents of the Rio Grande Valley. Under the distinguished leadership of Doctors Zarrabi and Mansour, Rodeo Dental & Orthodontics & Orthodontics has 15 locations across the RGV and 34 locations across Texas and Colorado. They are committed to bringing and providing cuttingedge dentistry and recruiting the best doctors nationwide.
H E A L T H ARTICLE PROVIDED BY
Dr. Rene I. Luna reneilunamd.com 956-630-2400
Guidelines Regarding the Potential Risks and Necessary Precautions the virus. Additionally, there may be an increased risk of preterm birth and other complications. It's crucial to note that the risks can vary depending on factors such as the trimester of pregnancy, underlying health conditions, and the severity of the COVID-19 infection. The stress and uncertainty of pregnancy during a pandemic can take a toll on mental health. Expectant mothers must prioritize self-care, manage stress, and seek support when needed. Do not be afraid to seek support from a partner, friend, or family when dealing with emotional stress. Additionally, reaching out to mental health professionals can provide further assistance.
The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped people's lives, impacting nearly every aspect of society. For expectant mothers, the pandemic has raised numerous questions and concerns about the potential effects of COVID-19 on pregnancy. This blog post aims to provide updated information and guidelines regarding the potential risks and necessary precautions for pregnant women during these challenging times. To better understand the effects of COVID-19 on pregnancy, it is important to examine the virus itself first. COVID-19 is caused by the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. It primarily spreads through respiratory droplets and can lead to symptoms from mild to severe. Like anyone else, pregnant individuals can contract COVID-19 if exposed to the virus.
Following recommended safety guidelines is essential to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19 during pregnancy. Wearing masks, practicing social distancing, and maintaining good hand hygiene are part of the safety guidelines. Vaccination against COVID-19 is also strongly recommended for pregnant individuals, as it can protect both the pregnant woman and the developing baby. Prenatal care remains crucial during the pandemic. Many healthcare providers have adapted to offer telemedicine appointments to reduce in-person contact while ensuring that expectant mothers receive the care they need. Regular check-ups, ultrasounds, and prenatal tests should not be
COVID-19 IMPACT ON PREGNANCY
A woman's immune system changes during pregnancy to accommodate the growing fetus; while these changes are essential for a successful pregnancy, they can also make pregnant individuals more susceptible to infections. Heightened vulnerability underscores the importance of taking precautions to avoid exposure to COVID-19. The impact of COVID-19 on pregnancy is an evolving field of study. Current research suggests pregnant women may face a higher risk of severe illness if they contract
H E A L T H
Regardless, with the proper knowledge and care, it is possible to prioritize the health and well-being of both the mother and the baby. Stay informed, follow safety guidelines, seek medical care when needed, and consider getting vaccinated to maximize personal protection. It is important to remember that support is available for pregnant individuals throughout their journey; they are not alone. ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
and pregnancy, consider consulting the following resources: · CDC's Guidance on Pregnancy and COVID-19 · American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) COVID-19 Resources · World Health Organization (WHO) COVID-19 Advice for Pregnant Women
Reach out to a healthcare provider for
personalized guidance and support.
skipped, as they are vital for monitoring the health of both the mother and the baby. One of the most significant developments in the fight against COVID-19 is the availability of vaccines. Extensive research has shown that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective for pregnant individuals. Vaccination reduces the risk of infection and provides crucial protection for the mother and the baby. Healthcare authorities strongly recommend it. If symptoms of COVID-19 are experienced or are exposed to someone with the virus, it's essential to act promptly. Contact a healthcare provider for guidance. The assistance provided will aid in determining the necessity of testing and offer guidance on self-care practices to reduce the likelihood of transmission to others. Hospitalization may be required in severe cases. Pregnancy during a pandemic poses challenges that can be addressed with appropriate information and precautions.
Not Alone IF YOU, OR SOMEONE YOU LOVE, IS EXPERIENCING SUICIDAL THOUGHTS, SOUTH TEXAS HEALTH SYSTEM® BEHAVIORAL IS HERE TO HELP. Suicide does not discriminate. People of all genders and ethnicities can be at risk and there is no single cause. It’s important to get to know the warning signs, including:
For a confidential assessment or for more information, call our hotline, available 24/7, at 956-388-1300 or visit southtexashealthsystembehavioral.com
• Self-destructive behavior, such as increased drug or alcohol use • Anxiety, agitation, irritability, aggression, recklessness • Sleeplessness or sleeping too much • Depression or mood swings • Loss of interest • Withdrawing from family and friends • Talking about dying or wanting to die If you or someone you care about is struggling, South Texas Health System Behavioral is here to provide compassionate care with quality services close to home.
Model representations of real patients are shown. Physicians are independent practitioners who are not employees or agents of South Texas Health System. The System shall not be liable for actions or treatments provided by physicians. For language assistance, disability accommodations and the nondiscrimination notice, visit our website. 231287761-1798769 9/23
CHOOSE HARLINGEN FOR BUSINESS & MUCH MORE
GROW IN HARLINGEN. COME BE A PART OF THE SUCCESS IN SOUTH TEXAS · Free Trade International Bridge - the fastest international crossing · Full-Service U.S. Customs Inspection Facilities · Valley International Airport - largest in the region · Two Major Interstate Highways · Opportunity Zones · Hundreds of acres of shovel-ready industiral land ... and much more!
THE HARLINGEN ADVANTAGE
Looking for a better place to do business? Call us! 956-216-5081 | harlingenedc.com
L I F E T he F r i e n d s o f Q u in t a M az atlá n a nd D ono r s b e gan gro wi n g a T in y F o r e s t in Mar ch 2023 o n the co r ne r o f J o r d a n a n d Wa r e Ro a d. The ar e a w a s a gr as s f i eld u n u s e d b y p e o p l e and w i ld li f e.
TINY FORESTS LOWER TEMPERATURES IN CITIES Help Cool Cities and Provide Habitat and Protection for Many Plants and Animals
making them a financially sustainable project for cities. Tiny Forests have been planted around the world. India has hundreds, and Japan, where it all began, has thousands. The Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki created this method of making fast-growing forests in small urban neighborhoods. In his time, Miyawaki grew over 3,000 Tiny Forests in 18 countries. The Center for Urban Ecology at Quinta Mazatlán is proud to follow in Miyawaki’s footsteps by growing Tiny Forests in McAllen, Texas. “We are working with area neighborhoods and schools to connect children to nature,” said Colleen Hook, Executive Director of Quinta Mazatlán. Hook continued, “Our 1st “neighborhood” forest was planted on the corner of Ware Road and Jordan, across the street from the Palm View Community Center and Brown Middle School. Our first “school” forest was planted at Cathey Middle School in the spring of 2023 with the second
Tiny Forests can help lower temperatures in cities up to 20 degrees! A homegrown Tiny Forest is a dense mini forest about the size of a tennis court, made up of over 30 different native plant species. Tiny Forests are reasonable solutions to addressing the heat stress in cities. Research has shown that temperatures in the summertime can be 20 degrees lower in the Tiny Forest versus around the forested area on streets and pavement. More than half the world’s population now lives in cities; by 2050, almost 70% will be urbanized. Cities that plant trees will be more resilient, healthy, and livable. Our urban trees are amazing and provide a source of beauty along with crucial environmental benefits. Tiny Forests reduce air pollution, improve stormwater runoff, and support wildlife. In addition, Tiny Forests need minimal maintenance after establishment as nature takes over,
b y Co l l een Ho o k, E xec uti ve D i r e ct or of Q u i n t a M a z a t l á n | p h ot os p r ov i d e d
G r a ss an d w e e d s w e r e r e m o v e d, a nd the so i l q u a l it y w a s e n h a n c e d w i th com p o s t and en ri c hed t o p s o il .
L I F E
Vo lun t ee r s a s s is t e d in p l anti ng the Ti ny Fo r e s t. Fo r m a ny f amil ies, th is was th e first time th eir ch il d pu t a pl a n t in t h e g r o u n d! Ste w ar d s co nti nue to he lp w a te r an d weed as th e 4 -mon th -ol d T in y F orest gro ws t o s u p p o r t p e o p l e a nd w i ld li f e.
Over 1,50 0 RGV n ative pl ant s were grown an d del ivered to th e s it e.
one planned for Sam Houston Elementary in the spring of 2024. The forest locations must be in neighborhoods where families and children can be involved in growing their forest.” Investing in green spaces like Tiny Forests can help transform cities into more resilient, healthy, and happy places to live. Forests and trees help cool cities and provide habitat and protection for many plants and animals. The Tiny Forest project is made possible by the support of the Friends of Quinta Mazatlán, Private Donors and City Departments, including Quinta Mazatlán, McAllen Convention Center, McAllen Public Works, McAllen Public Utility and McAllen Parks & Recreation. For more information on supporting Tiny Forests, please call 956681-3370 and follow Quinta Mazatlán on social media for volunteer opportunities. May the forest be with you.
L I F E
YEAR-ROUND JOY Capable Kids Gift Happiness and Inclusion
b y N a th a ni el M a t a | p h ot os b y A a r on G a r ci a
accessible programming and facilities in their jurisdiction. One of CK's tentpole events, Winter Wonderland, is set to take place on Dec. 10. The event includes crafts, games, food, a visit from Santa, and even bigger surprises if the group can hit fundraising goals in time. The event is one of the largest of the year and, like many others, depends not just on fundraising but also on volunteers generous with their time. Arlina Larson serves as the Community Development and marketing director for Capable Kids. "I'm newer to the organization as a staff member, but I have been a volunteer for several years now. I've seen the progression and experienced these events year after year," Larson said. "We want to make these events inclusive for all. We want them to enjoy these events with their peers. For example, in our country dance, we invite community
For years now, Capable Kids has been one of the most impactful nonprofit organizations in the Rio Grande Valley. Their activities include advocating for parks to be built with adaptive equipment as well as bringing special events for children and young adults with special needs across the region. The organization was created in 2015 by a group of speech, physical, and occupational therapists to help bridge the gap in inclusive services available in the RGV. The group has expanded its reach and capacity in less than 10 years. Capable Kids divides its projects into three distinct categories. CK Sports provides recreational fun and adaptive sports; CK Social, such as dances and holiday events; and CK Impact, which includes lobbying local governments and parks & recreation departments to include
L I F E
members and high school kids from other organizations to come, volunteer, and be the kid's buddies and dance partners. We don't want this to be exclusive but an inclusive experience." It is hard to describe the joy Capable Kids participants experience on their special nights. Larson talked about the endless energy on any given dance night. "At the country dance these kids dance nonstop, they dance for two hours straight I don't know how they have the energy," she said. "They are super engaged. A lot of the kids who come to these events have been coming for several years. They've created this bond with their friends that will last a lifetime. There is a sense of camaraderie." Larson also spoke on the connection Capable Kids families have built over the years. "It goes on to the moms and dads of kids with special needs, they are friends. They get to be around people with similar lives. That's one of the things that is so inspiring about being in this organization. I've seen how many of them have grown. They go and hang out with their friends; they are teenagers now." She stressed the impact of the community getting involved as supporters. "Participation in our events is what makes our social programming program," she said. "Our fundraisers are so important. It's not just a gala. We have a 5K, we have a skeet shoot. We try to catch different interests. We appreciate all the support to make what we do possible." She made sure to thank the allies of Capable Kids through the years, the local businesses, organizations, and local leaders who have gone above and beyond to lift the group to prominence. "Without the community and support from other organizations, we wouldn't exist," Larson said. "We started off as a small group. We are highly dependent on support from our local community. Whenever we partner with someone and see the impact they've made, I know they get the warm fuzzies. Seeing the kids having a good time, whether it's the photos you can see online or if they are actually at the event. I know they get that feeling because it's the feeling that we all get." To learn more about the org, become a member to volunteer, events, and more at ckrgv.org.
L I F E
THE RIO GRANDE VALLEY BALLET PRESENTS
THE NUTCRACKER A Holiday Season Performance of Enchantment
b y Sel ene G uer re r o | p h ot os b y J i m m y Kr y z a k to see how people react to the surprise moments of the performance and all of the bright colors, the loud music and the joy that they feel,” she said, her voice brightened as she recalled the excitement of past performances. “It always makes me so happy to go out to the lobby after and meet some of the students because it’s so beautiful to see their smiling faces.” This year, Hernandez has the honor of performing as Snow Queen, one of the lead roles in the performance. The show is a $100,000 production that speaks volumes about the commitment to excellence that Case and the Rio Grande Valley Ballet hold. The production is elevated yearly by adding new props, costumes, and lighting designs that dance with the music and dancers. “We’re the single, No. 1 longest-running show consistently in the Valley,” RGV Ballet’s artistic director, Deborah Case, said. “Nobody else has been able to produce a show 51 years straight.” Guiding the production, Case’s dedication has ensured the continuity of the production’s excellence, allowing it to flourish and evolve while remaining deeply rooted in tradition. “Classic ballet is alive and well in the Rio Grande Valley,” Case added.
Every year, as the summer sun begins to wane, the Rio Grande Valley Ballet starts preparing for a magical journey that has been enchanting audiences for over half a century. The visionary Deborah Case leads the production. This iconic production has become a holiday staple for families in the Rio Grande Valley. The dancers, who begin their practice in the summer, prepare for months for the Dec. performances. Their journey is not only physically demanding but emotionally charged as well. “As soon as I hear the music, I know it’s the holiday season and I know the magic and the joy that’s approaching,” Risa Renee Hernandez, 17, said. Hernandez has been dancing since she was three years old and has performed in The Nutcracker since she was six. “It was always a dream to be a ballerina and to be in a big performance like “The Nutcracker,” she said. As opening night draws near, the dancers share excitement and nervousness. Hernandez described it as a rush of adrenaline and anticipation that fills the air backstage just before the curtains rise. However, in the final notes of Tchaikovsky’s enchanting score play, a sense of melancholy washes over the performers, knowing that the season has ended. “It’s so incredible to see the smiles on their faces and
L I F E
“It’s so incredible to see the smiles on their faces and to see how people react to the surprise moments of the performance and all of the bright colors, the loud music, and the joy that they feel.” Ri s a Ren e e H e r n a n d e z , bal l erin a
T h e Rio Gran de Val l ey Bal l et begin th eir practice in th e su mmer, preparin g for mon th s for th e December performan ces.
“We’ve got hundreds of students at the Deborah Case Dance Academy and teach hundreds of children year after year.” This year’s show promises to continue with that tradition and bring a spectacle of dance, music, and festive celebration with a cast of 117 talented performers that bring the performance together. What elevates this production is the live symphony orchestra composed of local musicians. The dancers will perform to a live orchestra led by University of Texas conductor Dr. Norman Gamboa. The orchestra comprises students, Valley Symphony Orchestra musicians, and music teachers from the community. Their music will add a layer of grandeur and emotion to an enchanting performance, making it a truly immersive experience for the audience. Case and her dedicated team of dancers invite everyone to join them this holiday season. Even if you have seen “The Nutcracker” a dozen times or are planning your first visit, the magic of this timeless story never fails to captivate hearts, young and old. “People will feel a real human connection when they watch the show. Not only can you watch the performance, but you can also engage with it and feel the emotion of the art form and witness literal magic happening in front of your eyes,” Hernandez said. “I’ve never seen anybody leave “The Nutcracker” sad. It’s a crowd favorite.” RGV Ballet performs student matinees at 9:30 a.m. and noon on both days, Thursday, Dec. 7, and Friday, Dec. 8. Experience “The Nutcracker'' Saturday, Dec. 9, and Sunday, Dec. 10, at the McAllen Performing Arts Center, beginning at 3 p.m. All tickets are $35 and can be purchased at the McAllen Performing Arts Center Box Office.
L I F E
A Business for Fitness Lorena Abreu’s Love of Parkour Leads to Successful Career
b y B r ya n K i r k | p h o tos b y B á r b a r a De l g a d o a n d p r ov i d e d For as long as she can remember, Lorena Abreu was always that girl with an infinite supply of energy who was given to spurts of hyperactivity. As a kid, she ran everywhere, jumped easily over any obstacle, and climbed anything that could be scaled. Where could she possibly get that amount of energy? It may have come naturally for the Dominican-born athlete, actress, businesswoman, and stuntwoman who spent most of her life in the Rio Grande Valley. Her father, Dr. Ricardo Abreu, who founded the Pulmonary and Sleep Center in McAllen, is a longdistance cyclist and her mother, Rochy Diná, is an avid tennis player and the owner of Kiskeya Athletics in Pharr. As a child, Lorena was allowed to explore various outlets for her energy, including baseball, tennis, karate, various forms and genres of dance, and theater. However, there wasn't a sport or activity that tested her physical abilities until she discovered Parkour. Lorena was a 19-year-old film student at Full Sail University in Orlando when she first learned about Parkour from one of her fellow students, who told her about the open gym nights held on Saturdays. Even though she acknowledges she didn't know what she was doing, she spent hours at the gym. She was hooked and eventually connected with a group of local parkour professionals.
"Nothing compares to parkour for me," Lorena said. "It is just as taxing mentally as it is physically. Parkour is very much an exercise in creativity, an exercise in problem-solving, and an exercise in fear management. It taxes all these different parts of your brain, all at the same time. Parkour is my Adderall." According to the World Freerunning Parkour Federation, Parkour originated as a training program for the French Special Forces and is known as "Parcours du combattant," or "The Path of the Warrior." Fast-forward nearly 30 years, and Parkour has become an urban sport where participants fuse their mind and body to run and jump across any obstacle in the most expedient manner. Sometimes, there are those rare moments when Parkour resembles a masterpiece as the participants defy gravity and float through the air from one obstacle to the next. Of course, skills such as these are honed through hours of training on the Parkour course, along with other forms of intense physical activity, such as interval or weight training. For Lorena, the rush of adrenaline and the challenge of mind and body hooked her on Parkour, which she does two to three times per week as part of her workout routine.
L I F E
L I F E
Lorena said her parents are very passionate about exercise, which they instilled in her and her brother at a very young age. But what did her parents think about their daughter's new love of Parkour? "My dad was all for it. He basically grew up doing Parkour during the summer in the Dominican Republic," she said. "He was basically down for Parkour on day one. My mom was very afraid at first, but one day I brought her to a Parkour gym in San Antonio…" It was the first time that Rochy had seen her daughter– along with other adults– take on the Parkour course up close. She was in awe watching her daughter and other Parkour athletes effortlessly fly through and around each obstacle. She admired how each athlete fused their mind and body to conquer the course successfully. Lorena said that her mother realized this was much more than a gym. It was an outlet for families and people of various ages and physical abilities to improve their health through physical activity. It was an answer to her prayers. "My mom fell in love with the Parkour community," Lorena said. Rochy remembered her youth in the Dominican Republic and having the freedom to experience other activities with her friends at the sports club where she practiced tennis. She'd envisioned for many years creating a similar venue
in the Valley where families could gather to enjoy. The San Antonio parkour gym visit inspired Rochy and Lorena to open Kiskeya Athletics in Pharr. Kiskeya Athletics invited the public to its soft opening on Jan. 30 and officially opened with its ribbon cutting on May 31, 2023. "This is her dream facility," Lorena said. Kiskeya Athletics, which comes from "Quisqueya," the Taíno name for the island of Hispaniola, where the family is from, is the largest Parkour facility in North America, according to Lorena. "I was heavily involved in the development of Kiskeya Athletics, and I basically oversaw every aspect of the development of the Parkour gym," she said. Lorena was also responsible for assembling the facility teams and ordering the equipment for Kiskeya Athletics. Some programs available to Kiskeya Athletics include Parkour, dance classes, Tennis, fitness classes, weight training, CrossFit, and dodgeball. While most who take up the Parkour challenge are in their 20s or 30s, Lorena believes anyone of any age can perform at least some parts of a Parkour workout. She adds Parkour can help improve the balance of older adults with a risk of falling. "Parkour doesn't have an age limit," she said. "Parkour is for everybody. It's a toolbox of movement that teaches you how to effectively maneuver through various environments. Parkour looks different for everyone."
L I F E
Providing advanced quality healthcare to the women of the Rio Grande Valley.
Dr. Rene I. Luna Board-certified Obstetrician & Gynecologist Board-certified Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery
AS SEEN IN THE TEXAS MONTHLY MAGAZINE
• Texas Rising Stars 2018-2020 • TEXAS SUPER DOCTORS 2021-2023
Professional Memberships: ✓American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology (ACOG) ✓American Medical Association (AMA) ✓American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists (AAGL) · Robotic Committee Member ✓Hidalgo-Starr County Medical Society (HSCMS) ✓Texas Institute for Robotic Surgery (TIRS) ✓Texas Medical Association (TMA)
Hospital Affiliations: Doctors Hospital at Renaissance Rio Grande Regional Hospital
RENEILUNAMD.COM | (956) 630-2400 | 501 SAVANNAH AVE. MCALLEN, TEXAS 78503
CONVENIENT COMPETITIVE FOREIGN CURRENCY EXCHANGE We know foreign currency exchange can be a challenge. That is why we offer simple processes and expert guidance to efficiently Humberto F. Zepeda
complete your transactions. We have competitive up-to-the-minute
Senior Vice President Foreign Exchange Manager
pricing on over 100 currencies including Mexican pesos, euros and Canadian dollars. You can be confident in your foreign currency exchanges with our highly-skilled team.
V I C T O R Y
T A K E S
V I S I O N
VA N TAG E.B A N K MEMBER FDIC |
EQUAL HOUSING LENDER
L I F E
“According to a financial ledger that his sister-in-law kept for the family, there [is] evidence that Jose Garcia
was obtaining gold coins,” Guajardo said. Garcia had decided to remodel his house in 1929, installing a trap door in the kitchen. “That trap door would be used by him to store certain things under the floor of the house. It was [about a twofoot crawl space] between the dirt and the surface of the floor,” Guajardo said. In 1933, during the Great Depression, Franklin D.
An Exhibit with a Fascinating Story
Roosevelt signed an executive order to collect all privately held gold from Americans known as “The Hoarding Act.”
by Jillia n C amer o n | p h o to s p r o vi d ed
“Garcia would go to the bank, take out all of his gold coins, bring them to his house and bury them under his
History (MOSTH) is honored to display a new exhibit,
house,” Guajardo said.
“Dr. Garcia’s Gold.” Last year, the museum was gifted
Over time, Garcia collected and buried around 500 gold
with gold coins with an elaborate story of the coins being
coins under his house.
buried under a house nearly 100 years ago.
Garcia had a daughter, Gloria, who married her husband,
CEO Dr. Francisco Guajardo shared the story of how
Hector Lopez, in 1950. It was then that Dr. Garcia told
the coins came to be in possession of the museum.
Hector and Gloria about the gold. He wanted Gloria to use
In the early 1900s, Dr. Jose Garcia founded and
it to care for her brother, Lico, who had special needs.
operated a medical practice in the small town of San
For many years, Hector failed to find the gold under
the house. Unfortunately, Dr. Garcia had begun to lose his
L I F E
mental faculties and could not remember exactly where
Serafín wasn’t willing to give up the coins, and the two
he had put the gold.
sued one another for rightful ownership.
After Dr. Garcia died in 1964, Gloria and Hector became
Word of the trial at the Duval County Courthouse made
the owners of his home. They sold it in 1976 to a man
it to the local news. Gloria and Hector found out and
named Alejandro Lopez.
approached Alejandro and Serafín. They shared the story
“Hector and Gloria had thought for many years that the
of Gloria’s father and how he had buried the gold for them
gold story was [the imagination of a man] who had lost his
under the house many years ago.
mental faculties,” Guajardo said.
Alejandro and Serafín continued to fight for the gold for
In 2002, Alejandro Lopez found a leaky sewer line and
in their favor.
had installed in 1929 to access the leaking pipe.
The exhibit at the MOSTHistory shares this story of the
“[In the crawl space], he [didn’t] have enough room
legal proceedings that determined the rightful owner of
to maneuver to replace the pipes. So he began to dig to
the gold, along with a detailed account of Dr. García’s life.
create more space,” Guajardo said.
Hector and Gloria Lopez acquired wealth apart from
As he dug, Serafín unearthed a huge clump of mud.
the gold. They donated $275 million, creating the Hector
Upon examination, Serafín realized the mud was
and Gloria Lopez Foundation to provide scholarships to
enmeshed with gold coins.
first-generation Hispanic students from South Texas to
Serafín stole the gold and began pawning it over town.
Word got out about the coins, and Alejandro realized
“Dr. García’s Gold” is on display now and included in the
Serafín had taken the coins from his home. Alejandro
museum’s regular admission fees. The museum is open
contacted Serafín, claiming the coins had been given to
Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday
him by his father.
from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
possession of the gold. In 2004, a Duval County jury ruled
Serafín used the trap door in the kitchen that Dr. Garcia
hired a local plumber, Serafín Treviño, to fix it.
themselves. Gloria and Hector took legal action to obtain
L I F E
TACOCEAN New in Valley Seafood
by Ra fa e l Mend o z a -Fa r i a s Jr. pho t o s b y Ma r k P uente As the McAllen food scene continues to thrive, a new restaurant is making waves. Tacocean is the latest venture of owner Frank Gutierrez in the local restaurant scene. Specializing in seafood tacos, the menu provides a "creative and original" experience, said Gutierrez. It brings unique flavors of the sea to the region that can't be found elsewhere. Inspired by traditional Mexican cuisine and ambiance, Tacocean seeks to capture the vitality of Mexico's vibrant culinary traditions and bring the essence of Mexico's beautiful beaches to its location. The place is adorned by blue and white decor that puts you right by the bayside as savory dishes of mahi mahi, octopus, and shrimp are enjoyed. The restaurant's aquatic theme comes to life with carefully selected blue decor, creating a serene atmosphere. Tacocean takes great care in the food they offer. Fresh ingredients are used, including "prime rib eye, gulf shrimp, organic vegetables, and mahi mahi that is brought in every two or three days," Gutierrez said — adding an element of quality and refinement to the restaurant. It also features "one-of-a-kind desserts and pretty good drinks," Gutierrez said. For Gutierrez, this is not his first restaurant venture. He has spent his whole life in and around the workings of restaurants, being "born into the restaurant business," he said. His father, too, owned restaurants. Being a restaurant owner is more than a business for Gutierrez; it is more like a passion, being fond of "serving people and seeing people enjoy their food," he said. Gutierrez is an experienced restaurant entrepreneur with a lifelong passion for the food industry. Coming from a family of restaurateurs, he was born into the business and has spent his entire life around it. For Gutierrez, owning a restaurant is not just a job; it is more like a passion, being fond of "serving people and seeing people enjoy their food," he said.
L I F E
. RGVISION MAGAZINE
Genuine care that visibly translates to the establishment of Tacocean. Gutierrez aims to expand Tacocean's reach in the Valley by opening new locations. "There's nothing else like it in the area," he said, hence why he wants to expand it to multiple locations so that people from all over the Valley can enjoy the unique menu and experience it for themselves. Tacocean is located at 8025 N 10th St., Suite #140, McAllen, TX 78504. To contact the restaurant, call (956) 800-5192.
Inspired by traditional Mexican cuisine and ambiance, Tacocean seeks to capture the vitality of Mexico's vibrant culinary traditions and bring the essence of Mexico's beautiful beaches to its location.
L I F E
THERAPY DOGS Furthering the Local Funeral Industry
by Ra fa el Men d o z a -Fa r i a s Jr. | p h o to s b y Mar k P u e n t e
L I F E
"She's very easy to pet, and she just gets your mind off the situation. One thing about a smile is that it's hard to smile when upset. So, once you start smiling, it just changes your whole attitude, and I think anybody out there realizes that it doesn't matter how depressed you are. Once you turn that frown upside down, things just change. That's what Paisley does. She has a tendency of bringing a smile to people's faces," said Brown. Before providing solace and comfort to people, Paisley had to undergo training. For Brown, the process to receive Paisley was a lengthy one. They first had to contact a company specializing in raising and training therapy dogs. Brown had to become a certified handler so Paisley could enter public spaces. "We started the process a year ago. You fill out how Paisley is going to live, the type of job you anticipate her doing, how many kids live in the house, other animals, and how they are trained. I mean, it's serious; it's almost like adopting a child, the amount of work we had to go through. They ended up training her from birth until she was nine months old," said Brown. Paisley has since shown off her skills at multiple national conferences: the Indiana Hostage Negotiator Conference and the National Funeral Directors Association Conference in Las Vegas. Brown emphasizes that Katie and Paisley are not just there for the funeral services but for the people of the Valley as a whole. "We can take her into nursing homes, schools, you know, anywhere that the need is for her, and that's one of the things that we want to stress, that she's not just here for the funeral home. She's here for our community. If a situation arises, give us a call," said Brown. To learn more, visit their website at ricbrownffh.com or call (956) 583-6333.
Throughout history, dogs have earned the reputation of being man's best friend. Continuing this legacy are Katie and Paisley, two nationally certified therapy dogs that provide care for people undergoing difficult times. Employing these two dogs is Tim Brown. A member of the local funeral industry and co-owner of Ric Brown Family Funeral Home and Brown Family Funeral Home. Their goal is "to be there and love the people" while providing dignified services for individuals of "all walks of life," said Brown. Part of the emotional support available is the therapy dogs that they have implemented. Paisley and Katie. Therapy dogs have been carefully chosen and trained to comfort many people. They must have the appropriate temperament and be comfortable dealing with new and different people regularly. Accompanied by handlers, they go into various settings, such as nursing homes, schools, accident sites, funeral homes, and hospitals. Unlike emotional support dogs, they tend to many people rather than only treating one individual or service dogs specifically trained to help an individual with their disability. Therapy dogs are some of the latest trends in the funeral industry, but for Brown, his inspiration to implement them was seeing their positive impact firsthand. "During the tragedy that happened at Uvalde. I was able to go and volunteer my time. There was a therapy dog and I saw what the dog could do with all these children coming to the funeral home;" I said, "you know that's something I want a part of." "Paisley is an "Australian Labradoodle. She's a miniature. So, she's not going to be as big as some of the other dogs you see. It's not going to be like a pony coming up to you." As of Sept. 2023, Paisley has only been working at the funeral home for a short time, but she has proven her ability to make a difference. Her daily task is to go around the chapel and funeral home with a handler, consoling people.
RIO GRANDE VALLEY BALLET PRESENTS:
Great Holiday Classic for the Whole Family
Live Orchestra with Conductor Dr. Norman Gamboa SATURDAY December 9, 2023 | 3:00pm SUNDAY December 10, 2023 | 3:00pm Tickets available at
ticketmaster.com or at the MPAC Box Office
ADVERTISE WITH US RGVisionMagazine.com 956.431.0103 | info@RGVisionMagazine.com | RGVisionMagazine.com/contact
© 2010 Southwest Airlines Co.
WHEN WE SERVE TOGETHER IN OUR COMMUNITIES, EVERYONE SOARS. Southwest Airlines® proudly partners with those who are helping to shape our communities all across America. One good deed—when coupled with another and another and another—can truly make a positive difference in our daily lives.
EXPERIENCE YOU CAN TRUST ADVANCED VISION CORRECTION See Better. Live Better. Feel Better.
THE VALLEY’S OFFICIAL INTRALASIK SURGEON FOR THE DALLAS COWBOYS