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It’s never too early to prepare for the golden years.

adult day care

EDUCATORS UNDER PRESSURE South Texas teachers share their experiences.

LADY SHARPSHOOTERS Point Blank welcomes all to the range.

WORLD FOOD TOUR OF THE RGV A guide to a few international restaurants in our region.

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Visit for more information regarding opportunities within the U.S. Army. To speak with a recruiter, contact the Harlingen Recruiting Center at 956.423.1708 or the Brownsville Recruiting Center at 956.546.1471.

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Marifer Quevedo Claudia V. Lemus Bill Martin, CFP® ERO Architects Derrick Kinney Dr. Alfonso Mercado Fortino Gonzalez PT

Kevin Martinez James Hord Jose Antonio Peña Johnny Quiroz David Alvarado Seth Patterson Gabriel Elizondo



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 12,000 copies across the Rio Grande Valley in 420 locations with a direct mail distribution to major hospitals and Superintendents within Region 1. The RGVision office is located at 801 N Bryan Rd, Mission, TX 78572. To receive an annual subscription of RGVision publications for $29.99, email



Utilize the power of now, rather than the fear of tomorrow. Border Violence, human trafficking, Trumps wall, are all topics that can leave you paralyzed and worried about tomorrow. At RGVision we aren’t oblivious as to how the rest of the country may view the Rio Grande Valley, BUT our obligation is to over deliver on empowering stories and content to encourage growth and positive change. There are real issues we are facing in the educational sector as well as in the health care community that can affect our quality of life. BUT, rather than focusing on the problems, we found interesting individuals and organizations that have developed viable solutions that impact our area in significant ways to improve the region. In this issue you will read how the Rio Grande Valley is a flourishing community that has birthed top tier educational and health programs while providing inspiring profiles on a few local entrepreneurs and organizations that have strengthened the economic growth. Matthew 6:34 PUBLISHER'S NOTE

George Cox Karen Villareal Jose S. De Leon III Lori Houston Abbey Kunkle Amy Casebier Jose Antonio Peña David Alvarado Debra Atlas Irene Wazgowska

For editorial comments and suggestions, please send e-mails to For advertising information, please call us at 210.618.8930 or e-mail us at 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. PRINTED IN MEXICO








adult day care




It’s never too early to prepare for the golden years.

Nonprofit trade association works to advocate for aging service professionals to inspire, serve, and advocate on behalf of the elderly.







South Texas teachers share their experiences.

Point Blank welcomes all to the range.

A guide to a few international restaurants in our region.

EDUCATION All-Inclusive Playground in Harlingen

BUSINESS Estate Planning Mistakes pg 28

pg 8

Designing the Future in Gaming pg 10

pg 14

Texas Budget Cuts on Healthcare

Designing with Culture pg 30

Children & Social Media pg 54

Land Management w/ Drones It's All About Family

The Naked Truth About Sciatica pg 56

pg 36

In It Together - STC pg 18

Strong, Green & Empowering

Relaxation at the Dentist pg 58

pg 38

Critical Student Intervention Filling in the Gap pg 22

QUALITY OF LIFE The Sound of Rain pg 70

pg 50

pg 32

Multi-Cultural Experience


vomFASS a Franchise Story pg 44

Going the Extra Mile pg 48

Tale of a Finger pg 60

A Look into the Live Stock Show pg 74

Never Stop Reading pg 80

The Future Soldier pg 82

10 Years of Beauty & Growth pg 84

Diabetes Under Pressure

RGV Recycles

pg 66

pg 86


HCISD & City Of Harlingen Come Together! IN ALL-INCLUSIVE PLAYGROUND PROJECT By Marifer Quevedo


he City of Harlingen and the Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District have joined forces to provide the community with three all-inclusive playground facilities with structures and features designed to accommodate children of all abilities. Physical play may seem a simple component, yet there are numerous studies on its profound effect on a



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child’s cognitive, emotional, and social development. City and district officials have collaborated to design playground structures that bring all children together — regardless of physical abilities — in a fun and active environment that promotes exercise and social interaction. “Our community’s approval of the tax ratification as well as our partnership with the City of Harlingen

Once completed, the all-inclusive playgrounds will provide families with an excellent choice for children to play, exercise, and interact with others in a fun environment.” - Dan Serna, Harlingen City Manager

are making this project a reality,” Superintendent Art Cavazos said. “These all-inclusive playgrounds stand to benefit not only the children of our district but all of Harlingen. They will be a place where children with a wide spectrum of abilities can come together and have fun.” “The design will allow opportunities for all children to enjoy the playgrounds,” said Oscar Tapia, assistant superintendent for District Operations & School Safety. “Special needs children with physical disabilities can play alongside their peers, all while exercising their sensory systems including tactile, proprioceptive, vestibular, visual, auditory, social and imaginative, and motor planning. Children will be able to participate in spinning, sliding, swinging, and climbing on playground equipment, as well as engage in tactile and auditory play experiences, where they can feel, listen, and explore at their own rate.” The Lon C. Hill playground will be funded through a $425,000 grant received by the city of Harlingen from the Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation. The Pendleton Park and Victor Park playgrounds will be co-funded by the city and HCISD, both of which have agreed to fund a total of $400,000 each for both playgrounds. The district’s TRE funds will make this joint partnership possible. “Once completed, the all-inclusive playgrounds will provide families with an excellent choice for children to play, exercise, and interact with others in a fun environment,” Harlingen City Manager Dan Serna said. “The playgrounds will be designed to allow children with special needs to use the components of the park along with those without special needs. We are proud of our partnership with HCISD and look forward to completing these playgrounds for the benefit of our citizens and visitors.” HCISD will incorporate the use of these playgrounds into the curriculum for special needs students. “It is easy to overlook the importance of social skills,” said Daniel Garza, director of Special Education. “In the new playgrounds, students will be able to play in

conjunction with each other, enhancing cooperation and communication. Social building and recreational activities filter into the curriculum. One of the biggest catalyst for cognitive development will be the stimulation resulting from having multi-sensory features in the park, incorporating components that allow opportunities for students to play both cooperatively with each other and independently.” After visiting all-inclusive playgrounds in neighboring cities, the design committee identified the most vital feature needed is the space itself to accommodate the physical needs of handicapped visitors. Students with disabilities such as cerebral palsy and spina bifida who require a mobility device to move around will have pathways and transfer points that exceed ADA standards, enabling them to move more freely in the play spaces. The playgrounds will have ample nooks and niches within the main play structures for students to momentarily recharge as needed. A 5-foot walkway connecting the various structures and activity pods within the playground will provide sufficient space for a walker, wheelchair, or an additional person. The inclusive approach will alleviate some limitations for approximately 1,800 of the district’s special needs students, including 363 students with severe handicaps in life skills programs across multiple grade levels. The playgrounds will create an environment fostering a feeling of success as students interact on the same level as their peers. “Many times at recess, special needs students are isolated because the equipment simply does not allow for them to have a more integrated, social experience,” Garza said. “Modifications where students can successfully maneuver are key to increase their sense of pride and encourage socialization.” Construction at Lon C. Hill began mid-January, with the two additional playgrounds following immediately after. All three playgrounds are projected to be completed by spring 2017.

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Designing the Future, One Game at a Time

PSJA Game Design Pathway Opens World Of Possibilities For Students By Claudia V. Lemus


ideo games have come a long way in the last 40 years — from bulky consoles with tangling cords that could only be played at home a few feet away from a television, to free game apps that can be easily downloaded and accessible from a mobile device. Video games attract people of all ages and careers in game design are more popular than ever. Seven years ago, that very realization helped create Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD’s Game Design Pathway, which allows high school students to learn how to design, program, and create a video game from start to finish.



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The advanced game development program, taught by game design teacher Douglas Gregory at PSJA Memorial Early College High School in Alamo, was recently featured as the main story in the March edition of Texas Lone Star magazine, a publication of the Texas Association of School Boards. Gregory authored the piece, “Mastering the Game, Unique PSJA Courses Let Students Design Games of the Future,” describing the inspiration and creation of the innovative program with the support of PSJA ISD Superintendent Daniel King. “I wanted to empower my students, not just to

imagine what kinds of games they’d like to create someday, but to also begin creating games now,” wrote the game design teacher in the magazine article. “My students come in knowing little about how their favorite games are made, but leave with a profound understanding of the many aspects of game design and development.” Utilizing GameSalad, a mobile game-development platform, students use the drag-and-drop ease of the software to experiment, expand, and see their ideas come to life. In addition to being featured by the Texas Lone Star Magazine, the popular game design program is already inspiring students to pursue their gaming dreams. In 2016, several PSJA Game Design Pathway students competed at a GameSalad Game Design Contest and three of their entries were named winners. While video game design sounds like an ideal program for video game lovers, creating games from scratch is not as easy as it sounds. “Students are given strict deadlines, which introduces them to the tight schedules and high expectations of the professional software development industry,” Gregory wrote. “When they start a new design, they must first define their future game in writing and it needs to change to meet goals, timelines, and expectations.” In 2016, the global gaming market was a $99.6 billion industry, according to the market research firm Newzoo. Game designers may earn anywhere from $45,300 to $129,000. PSJA ISD has partnered with Texas State Technical March edition of Texas Lone Star magazine, a publication of the Texas Association of School Boards.

College in Harlingen to offer dual credit for the courses in the program. This will give students at PSJA a head start on a pathway to an associate of applied science degree in digital media design technology, or an associate of applied science degree in game development and programming. “Helping prepare students for the challenges of today’s job market is a critical component of PSJA’s success, and these game design courses have been a game changer,” Gregory said. In addition to challenging students in high school, the advanced game design courses have sparked an interest in students, and even inspired many to pursue careers they are passionate about. There are currently eight PSJA Game Design Pathway alumni enrolled in universities throughout Texas, pursuing careers related to the field. “l loved that the class was so creative and challenging,” said Horacio Garza, a PSJA Memorial Class of 2016 alumnus who participated in the game design program. “Learning to code in high school has helped me be a step ahead of my classmates in college.” Garza is currently pursuing an art & technology Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Texas at Dallas. He credits his passion for technology and his goal of becoming a game programmer to PSJA. “PSJA taught me to not be afraid to surpass the limits of my imagination,” Garza said. “Thank you to Mr. Gregory and my PSJA Family for helping me live my dream earlier than expected!”

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Providing a Lifetime of Quality Service 5801 N. 10th St. Ste 400 McAllen, TX Give us a call at (956) 971 - 0326 Follow us on

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By L O R I H O U S T O N

very place on Earth is a unique experience. The community in the Rio Grande Valley is a melding of norms and traditions of three distinct cultures: Mexican, Mexican-American, and Anglo-American. While each group has their own characteristics, their fusion becomes our border culture and everyone benefits from the immersion experience of them all. Not everybody is fortunate enough to live 14


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in a culturally diverse location. Many areas are monocultural and those seeking to enrich their lives by experiencing a different culture must look outside of their community. Utilizing a foreign exchange program is one way young people can experience a culture outside of their own by spending an entire school year living with a host family and going to local schools, totally immersed in the local culture.

Mie Jungclaus - Denmark

Students Ice Skating

Jailun He - China

Mie Jungclaus is a high school student from Denmark who is staying with a family in Mission. “When I was first told I was chosen to go to Texas, I decided ‘Okay, I’m up for it’, but I didn’t know where Mission was,” she said. She was happier when she found out it was as close to Mexico as possible. (She has really come to love the tacos in the Rio Grande Valley.) “I was trying not to have any expectations at all because that would have disappointed me. But I am not disappointed in any way,” she said. She is staying open-minded throughout the cultural exchange experience. “I just take it as it is and go with the flow.” Becoming an exchange student is a long process — Jungclaus first knew she wanted to be an exchange student four years ago. “My parents were very supportive,” she said. Her mother assisted her the most throughout the long process, starting with helping her choose which organization to travel with. Cidy Sandovol is a community coordinator for the Council for Educational Travel, USA (CETUSA) who finds host families here in the Rio Grande Valley for high school students from all over the world. She is very passionate about helping to facilitate this exchange that benefits all the participants involved — from the students to the host families. She says that this year, CETUSA has approximately 20 students placed in the Rio Grande Valley. Jailun He, a 10th-grader from China, decided to become an exchange student in the United States because he eventually wants to go to MIT. He said

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Janine from Germany: “This year has been life changing and full of experience.“

Jaoa from Brazil: “My experience was amazing. I learned a lot of things. For sure I became a better person because I started looking at the world with a different point of view. Everything was awesome. It is a unique life experience.”

Helen from Germany: “My experience during this exchange year had up’s and down’s but I am very happy to be here and I am going to miss it!”

Katharina from Germany: “My experience has been great and I have met many amazing people that will always stay in my heart.”




that he likes his host family and the school he is attending, although it is different. “In China, each class has their own schedule and they don’t move [between classrooms]. The teachers move every period,” he said. Jungclaus described something similar for the schools in Denmark, but also pointed out that her home school was a lot smaller and the class periods were shorter. Jungclaus has also noted a difference in teaching styles, saying that students here are more self-taught. This leaves her feeling like she isn’t learning as much as she could be. “If you don’t know how to do it, how are going to learn it? At home I feel like the teachers are different in their teaching,” she said. “They go more into detail.” Extracurricular activities are also a big thing in American high schools and Jungclaus and Jailun have both gotten involved: Jungclaus has joined the track team and Jailun participates in UIL. He is getting the full Texas experience — Jailun recently showed a goat at the Livestock show in Mercedes. It isn’t easy for these students to leave their homes

for an entire school year. In addition to her family, Jungclaus says she misses the walkability of her community. She was able to walk or bike everywhere and didn’t need a car. Another big cultural difference can be food. Jungclaus felt sick after eating fast food and Jailun says that the Chinese food here is not really “Chinese food like in China.” But new experiences they are having help keep them from dwelling on their separation. Jailun believes it is important to learn about other cultures. (He says that steak and mashed potatoes are his favorite food from this area.) “The people that have more experiences have the best life,” he said. When you start living the daily life of a culture different than your own, it changes something in you, and you become someone new. Like Jungclaus says, “It helps people understand why people do what they do sometimes.” For more information about CETUSA, visit their website:

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IN IT TOGETHER! STC uses grant to spearhead teamwork among educators, government, employers By Amy Casebier


ore than 20 leaders from educational institutes, government entities, and healthcare facilities gathered March 21 at Knapp Medical Conference Center in Weslaco to discuss how they could work together to benefit all parties — and the Rio Grande Valley as a whole. The meeting was notable because many of these groups classify as competitors. Texas A&M University, South Texas College, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley vie for student interest; Rio Grande Regional Hospital, Doctors Hospital at Renaissance, McAllen Medical Center, Weslaco Regional Rehabilitation Hospital, Knapp Medical Center and Valley Baptist Medical Center treat the same patients. But leaders weren’t there to get a leg up on the competition. Instead, they mulled common goals and explored disconnects between schools and potential employers of their graduates. “The big thing is getting people to the table,” said Valerie Gamez, director of the Texas Regional STEM Degree Accelerator at STC. “I am so excited to learn that they can and will work together.” The representatives met thanks to Gamez and STC’s efforts to organize cooperation among entities spanning industries and cities across the Valley. The initiative comes as a part of an $800,000 grant via Educate Texas, and



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“We needed to have this conversation with industry, ‘what are you looking for in your employees, who do you need in the next 10 years?'" - Valerie Gamez, director of the Texas Regional STEM Degree Accelerator at STC

is intended to stimulate education and careers in science, technology, engineering, and math in the region. “We focused on information technology and health care because research showed us that those areas show high potential for growth in the next 10 years,” Gamez said. After STC received word about the grant in August 2015, Educate Texas made an additional proposal: sector partnerships. With these relationships, businesses — in this case, healthcare- and IT-related companies — act as a central hub, while economic development corporations, chambers of commerce, educational institutions, and other groups operate as spokes of the wheel. When they work together, the result can be highly effective, bolstering the level of achievement in schools and universities, as well as boosting the economy and workforce talent pool. “We needed to have this conversation with industry, ‘what are you looking for in your employees, who do you need in the next 10 years?’ so that we can try to get curriculums aligned for that purpose and try to prepare the next generation of workers,” Gamez said. The initial phase of the grant included training for Valley educators. “We created what is called the RGV STEM Faculty Institute,” Gamez said. “Through that, we are training faculty from dual enrollment, we’ve got two-year colleges represented, four-year universities represented, a little bit of everyone from Brownsville to Rio Grande City.” Educators who attended the workshops received a stipend from the grant, Gamez added. The sessions examined practical M AY / J U N E 2 0 1 7

lessons for students, including how to work in groups, time management tips, and communication — the essentials to being successful in any workplace. Teachers also received an in-person look at the jobs their students might pursue. “We’ve actually toured some industry locations — hospitals, banks, places that either use healthcare-intensive employees or IT-intensive workplaces,” Gamez said. “(Teachers) were just fascinated because many of them said they hadn’t really worked outside of education.” And now with healthcare and IT chiefs speaking directly with educators and city leaders, everyone has a clearer idea for what it takes to ensure students are prepared to enter the workforce. The next steps for this partnership include forming action teams to achieve goals established in the meetings — in the case of the healthcarefocused discussions, taking on everything from a nursing shortage to doctor-student mentorships. Though the grant officially ends May 2018, Gamez said she was certain its effects would be felt long after — for everyone involved. “Now that they see it in action, I know they’re going to continue,” she said of the leaders’ meetings. “Too many good ‘aha’ moments.” Read about South Texas College’s Texas Regional STEM Degree Accelerator at trsda/. Learn more about sector partnerships at



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FILLING IN THE GAP IDEA Public Schools implement a program to help students who struggle with reading and math By G E O R G E C O X

Young students struggling with reading and math is not a new story. IDEA Public Schools, however, is working to take an old story and turn it into something new with a program designed to remedy this shortfall in learning. The Critical Student Intervention program was initiated three years ago to help students in grades three through seven who were performing below grade level, a problem IDEA identified through testing of new students. “We were seeing this critical gap in reading and math,” said Tricia Lopez, IDEA’s senior director of 22


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special programs. “CSI is what we did in response.” IDEA was founded in the Rio Grande Valley in 2000 and has become one of the fastest growing and most highly acclaimed charter school organizations in the country, building a reputation for data-driven innovation in the classroom that drives results that can be quantified and tracked statistically. IDEA currently operates 51 schools with more than 30,000 students throughout the Rio Grande Valley, San Antonio, and Austin. Plans are in the works to add more schools in the Valley and San Antonio as well as expand to El Paso, Tarrant

County, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. There’s even talk about an IDEA campus in Las Vegas, Nevada. School rankings by U.S. News and World Report and the Washington Post consistently list IDEA campuses as some of the best in the country. The organization also boasts a 100 percent college acceptance rate for their graduates. Lopez said IDEA targeted reading and math skills in some of the youngest students after studying test results. “Every single student in IDEA is tested so we know exactly what their reading or math level is when they come to us,” Lopez said. Using the data from the performance testing, IDEA educators zeroed in on grades three through seven to identify “the struggle so we can intervene in exactly the right way,” Lopez said. The development of the CSI program started at the campus level, where principals were given autonomy to work with their staffs to experiment with best practices to see what worked. “Our pilot year was a learning year,” Lopez said, noting that between 15 and 20 reading and math programs were tested. Data was gathered on the effectiveness of the program and it was refined and focused. “This was completely originated by IDEA,” she said. “We used the best practices we saw at our campuses.” As the program developed IDEA also partnered with the National Institute for Direct Instruction, an organization that provides administrative and curricular support for schools implementing direct instruction programs. Using an individualized learning block approach, students receive additional instruction time each day to work in groups of 8 to 10, using adaptive software in a computer lab under the guidance of an intervention specialist and special education teacher. The goal of the program is for students who are behind grade level in reading and math to be able to close the gap by two grade years in one school year. “We had about a quarter of those kids close their reading or math gap by two years in one year,” Lopez said. “And that was just the first year.”

“We were seeing this critical gap in reading and math.CSI is what we did in response.” TRI CI A LOPE Z, I DE A’ S SE N I OR DI RE CTOR OF S PE CI AL PROGRAMS

During the 2016-17 school year some 3,000 students participated in the CSI program throughout the IDEA network. Lopez said the data is showing that half of those students have closed the gap, which meets IDEA’s benchmark of having 50 percent of CSI students meet the goal. And the data will continue to drive improvements in the program to achieve even stronger results. “One of the big components is that the interventionist and special education teachers are collecting data every single day,” Lopez said. And those instructors work together through coaching calls where data and best practices are shared. Lopez said the CSI program has been tagged as a priority item on IDEA’s district goals, something that likely will further engage campus faculty, especially since there are rewards for high performance. “When principals and leaders see that’s a priority they really get on it,” she said. “Teachers are on a career pathway, so they have goals and if they meet goals it reflects it reflects in salary and evaluations.”

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EDUCATORS UNDER PRESSURE South Texas Teachers Share Their Experiences By K A R E N V I L L A R E A L & A B B E Y K U N K L E

You don’t have to dig for data to know that educators are under stress in the U.S.; it’s common knowledge that teachers are underpaid and overworked, but the numbers are there. A key finding in a recent report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (a philanthropy dedicated to health) is that 46 percent of teachers report high daily stress, which compromises their health, sleep, quality of life, and teaching performance. Often demoralized by a lack of administrative support, isolation, low pay, and feeling that they had little sway in school decisions, teachers leave the field at the rate 24


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of 13 percent each year, according to a new report published by the Alliance for Excellent Education, and the number of teachers leaving the career increases to 20 percent for urban schools. Fiscally speaking, this turnover costs between $1 and $2.2 billion each year, but the even greater intangible effect is passed down on to our children. For most teachers, their passion for working with children is their primary reason for getting into the field, but each day they face the challenge of balancing time with their students with other, sometimes burdensome, professional responsibilities. We spoke to a few teachers working at schools in the Rio Grande Valley, which are predominantly underprivileged, to get their take on the biggest challenges they face in their pursuit to educate and care for our children in the RGV. We found that teaching today means balancing seemingly endless mountains of paperwork, stress over standardized testing, as well as concerns about meeting administrative expectations — all while

Teachers leave the field at the rate of


That percentage increases


This turnover costs between


At this point, it’s a lot less than my first couple of years when I planned as soon as I got home until I went to sleep. I’ve found a lot more balance now that I know what I am doing.



+ Martin Valverde

FRIDAY MAY 5 + Lone Star Hunting & Fishing Expo

forming bonds with the students whose lives they aim to impact. “We teach more than just the ‘curriculum.’ We push my students to think bigger and set goals for their future,” said one RGV educator. “We teach them to be respectful and compassionate towards others.”

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FRIDAY MAY 19 + STFC 42 MMA Cage Fighting



Many professionals who work outside of the world of education do not see the full scope of the responsibilities that come with teaching, and when looking at the profession, they take notice of things like summer break and think that the work day ends around 3 o’clock. Though these things sound appealing, teachers know that their job isn’t only done during class time. The majority of teachers say they take work home for preparation and grading, even during the summer, and many also spend time coaching athletic and academic extracurricular activities that take up their afternoons, nights, and weekends. Achieving a work-life balance is difficult for many new teachers. “I think you have to acknowledge that there is going to be some sacrifice,” said Teach for America alumnus Alejandro Delgado. “I think it’s inherent in the job. You don't take it because you’re going to get paid a lot, or work just a few hours a day and it’s easy.” Of course, as teachers settle into the field, balance becomes a key factor in managing their stress and workload. Another Teach for America educator, Megan Hannan, has been teaching in La Joya ISD for the past five years. She noted, although she does take her work home, gaining experience has helped her find more balance between her professional and personal life. “At this point, it’s a lot less than my first couple of years when I planned as soon as I got home until I went to sleep. I’ve found a lot more balance now that I know what I am doing.”

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SATURDAY, JUNE 24 + Pride in the Park

Located in the heart of the Rio Grande Valley, the McAllen Convention Center is the premier venue in the Region for gatherings. For booking or ticketing information please call 956.681.3800.

For More Info:


Delgado was inspired to dedicate his life to education after his Georgetown University experience, where he was one of the few Latinos in his classes. “I didn’t like that, so I decided to change it,” he said. After joining Teach For America, Delgado spent time working at IDEA Frontier in Brownville before transferring to work as the founding principal in administration with IDEA Austin. He says society’s low regard for teaching is definitely a barrier for great teachers to enter and stay in the field of education. In fact, a recent Harris Poll, which surveyed 2,250 adults, found that fewer adults believe that parents and students M AY / J U N E 2 0 1 7




700 Convention Center B McAllen, Texas 78501 Phone: (956) 681-3800 Fax: (956) 681-3840




“My mentor was a huge part of my success. She was just there for me,” she said. “If a teacher doesn’t get someone like that, a lot of times they just don’t make it. It’s sink or swim in teaching, especially in a big school district.” respect teachers; when asked to compare the memory of their school days to their current view of schools, those who agreed with the statement “students respect teachers” dropped from 79 percent to 31 percent. Thankfully, though, not all teachers feel this way. One McAllen teacher with over 10 years of experience noted that with students, in particular, you have to earn their respect. She said, “I wasn’t trying to be their friend but just creating those meaningful relationships with them.” For her, classroom management stands out as the most challenging part of the job and likely as one of the major reasons that teachers leave the profession. She shared that being in control of the classroom is probably the number one thing that she sees teachers struggle with. Among other things, she credits her amazing mentor, a 35-year accomplished teacher, as a huge factor in her career. “My mentor was a huge part of my success. She was just there for me,” she said. “If a teacher doesn’t get someone like that, a lot of times they just don’t make it. It’s sink or swim in teaching, especially in a big school district.” TESTING, TESTING, 1, 2, 3...

Standardized testing tends to be one of the more controversial subjects among today’s educators. Those who teach testing subjects often feel that the success of their entire year is judged by a few hours of testing, which doesn’t factor in other measures of student learning. And the fact that classrooms vary not only from school to school, but from classroom to classroom; often times, “gifted” students are grouped together, giving one teacher much more promising data than another. On top of that, resources are often stretched thin. Further perpetuating stress for educators, school administrators constantly compare their numbers to teachers at other schools as well as within their own schools. All these factors leave new teachers especially concerned about keeping their jobs. As someone who has been on both the teaching and administration sides, Delgado says everyone wants the best for the children, and you have many people expecting results. “On the one hand [as a principal] you do care about your teachers a lot, as well as the students not feeling a lot of stress, but at the end of the day it all comes down to the results. If the data isn’t there then there is something wrong.” Most teachers agree that there must be some sort of 26


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accountability, but some struggle with feeling like they have to “teach the test.” Hannan said that she struggled with how much stress her school, the administration, and district placed on performance of the test, while she personally felt that it was not the best tool to drive lesson-planning. “There is such a big discrepancy between STAAR problems and math that is going to engage them, be useful, and help them truly learn,” she said. While teachers of tested subjects experience more stress as testing approaches, oftentimes, non-testing teachers take on other responsibilities to balance out the workloads, like additional roles as coaches for athletic or academic events. One teacher, who has taught both testing and non-testing subjects noted that both sides have their own challenges; trading off testing stress to head up extracurricular activities often requires putting in more hours in the evenings and on weekends. WELCOME TO THE CLASSROOM!

Being only human, some teachers respond better than others to the stress of the classroom. Whether seasoned or new to teaching, those who stick it out tend to learn how to better manage things across the board, although expectations are high and new requirements or changes in schools always keep them on their toes. Teaching is challenging but rewarding, and there are many avenues and opportunities to get a good foundation. Some study education in college, others take the alternative certification route, and programs like Teach For America can offer great support in helping you fulfill your goals as a teacher. “With Teach for America, the mission is not to create longtime teachers, but leaders in education,” Delgado said. Delgado added that he advises potential educators to think hard about the commitment, and to not give up at the first sign of turbulence if they decide to go for it. “Try to stick with it for two or three years. I think any job it takes a couple of years, so give it time,” he said. As teachers get more comfortable in their roles, administrators also tend to put more trust and allow for more autonomy. However, those who stay with the profession do so because they love children and want to create opportunities for them. “People see whether you like your job or not — whether it is the students or teachers. You can tell when someone is not passionate. I am passionate about teaching,” Hannan said. “I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

MAKING LIVES Founded in 2008 by a group of emergency room physicians, Neighbors Emergency Center operates as a freestanding emergency room, providing patients with the same level of service as a hospital-based emergency room. We operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Neighbors Emergency Center takes pride in only hiring local board certified physicians to care for patients. By doing this, our physicians provide nothing less than the highest of quality patient care. Neighbors Emergency Center is rooted in and driven by a purpose that sets us apart from the healthcare industry as a whole. Our purpose drives our vision which is inspired by our patients, culture and community. Neighbors Emergency Center believes in providing extraordinary care that is dedicated to making lives better every day. Neighbors Emergency Center operates around an unfaltering vision to be “The Best Neighbors Ever” – this means providing unparalleled medical care driven by compassion, respect and dedication.




2073 E. Ruben Torres Sr. Blvd. Brownsville, TX 78526

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6700 N. 10th Street McAllen, TX 78504





OOPS! The Great Estate

Avoiding the Great Estate “Oops”

Review your estate plan before it's too late

There’s a calm comfort that comes with estate planning. A sense that your family will be taken care of after you pass away (hopefully peacefully at a ripe old age). Sadly, it doesn’t always happen that way. Forgotten details can create confusion and havoc for your family — or, suck them into a time-consuming court case to get it all ironed out. Even those who think they’ve got their estate plans buttoned up can and should review — then update — those documents at least once a year. You won’t regret thoroughly reviewing your estate plan; perhaps even better, you’ll take comfort in knowing you gave your family one less thing to worry about when the time comes.

Regular reviews can help prevent your estate from descending into chaos. Let’s look at the consequences of neglecting your estate plan and forgoing this oftoverlooked but absolutely critical review.

I Got You Babe (And Babe) Back in 1998, after Sonny Bono’s untimely death in a skiing accident, we learned he never wrote a will. And a man claiming to be an illegitimate son attempted to get part of the Bono estate, as did ex-wife Cher, with whom he shared royalties on music they made together. His blended family became a public spectacle at a time of grief and uncertainty. Avoiding the Oops: Resolve to write a will as soon as possible. And keep your beneficiaries updated. Everyone over 18 needs an estate plan that includes a comprehensive will (at

the very least) and properly documents your wishes. Remember, life is unpredictable, perhaps more so if you have a complex professional or personal life.

The Girl Without a Ring

Stieg Larsson, who wrote “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” was devoted to his girlfriend of 32 years. When the Swedish author died without a will, his entire estate was divided between his father and brother in accordance with Swedish law. His beloved was left out, legally speaking. Avoiding the Oops: Resolve to learn how estate laws affect nontraditional relationships. Learn and understand the laws that govern transfer of property in your chosen state or country, so you can protect the interests of those you love. And don’t presume others will honor your wishes without a written directive. Beyond writing a will, asset titling is especially important when you’re in a “nontraditional” relationship.

As featured in WORTHWHILE, a quarterly periodical dedicated to serving the clients of Raymond James advisors and affiliated advisory firms. 28


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Legally, your partner may not have the same rights a spouse would.

The Injustice of It All Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger presided over his own will, penning a brief 176-word declaration. But the poorly executed document left his family with more than $450,000 in estate taxes and court fees that could have been avoided. You’d think a Supreme Court judge would know better, but he didn’t. Avoiding the Oops: Trust a qualified estate planning professional to help you write your will and other estate planning documents.

No Laughing Matter “Dark Knight” actor Heath Ledger drafted a will naming his sibling and his parents as beneficiaries. Sadly, he didn’t update it after the birth of his daughter, Matilda. When he passed away unexpectedly, there was great confusion about who were the rightful heirs of his estate, and the difficulties played out publicly. Avoiding the Oops: Resolve to review your plan any time your life changes. Remember that every life event — births, adoptions, disability, deaths, marriages, divorces, even moving — should trigger a review and update of your estate documents. If any of these events occur in the life of a beloved beneficiary, take note! That requires another look, too.

Empty Trust Michael Jackson created a trust, but it seems the king of pop may not have fully funded it. As a result, members of his famous family fought in probate court — and in the media — before settling the estate. Avoiding the Oops: To find out if a trust makes sense for your family, consult knowledgeable estate planning professionals to learn more about the various types.

A Complicated Man When he died last year, actor Philip Seymour Hoffman left his entire estate to his long-term girlfriend, bypassing his three young children because he didn’t want them to become entitled trust-fund babies. But their non-married status meant that she didn’t qualify for the marriage exemption on inherited assets, according to Forbes. So approximately $30 million of the $35 million estate ($5.34 million is excluded because of the federal lifetime exclusion; $10.68 million for couples), which could have been passed tax-free, was fully taxable at up to a 40% rate. On top of that, New York state has its own 16% estate tax for non-spouses on any amount over its $1 million exemption. Forbes estimated that the Oscar winner’s loved ones lost at least $15 million to the IRS and the state. Avoiding the Oops: Resolve to research estate-planning strategies that align with your wishes. Remember to review and revise your estate plan any time your life changes. Also, don’t let principles cloud your judgment. We’re not saying ignore them. We’re suggesting that your professional advisors may be able to keep the CRA at bay and protect your legacy, while still respecting your stance against the institution of marriage or an unwillingness to bequeath significant wealth to your children.

Papa Didn’t Know Best Like the Hoffman family, “Sopranos” actor James Gandolfini’s family ended up owing $30 million in taxes on his $70 million estate. While he had a plan that included his wife, children (some from a previous relationship) and sisters, he neglected to implement some well-known techniques that could have minimized that tax burden. For example, he left 20 percent of his assets to his wife, which didn’t take advantage of the unlimited marital deduction that allows tax-free transfers between spouses, in most cases. Instead, 80 percent of his wealth was

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subject to federal estate taxes and New York’s 16 percent estate tax. While he may not have wanted his current wife to inherit all his wealth, he could have implemented different provisions to protect the financial security of individuals within his blended family, while softening the tax blow. Avoiding the Oops: Resolve to take advantage of all available estate-planning techniques. Make sure your will accurately reflects your existing family structure. And, don’t forget to talk to professionals about estate planning techniques that take advantage of all the tax exemptions currently available. Doing so could ease the transfer of assets and keep more of your hard-earned wealth within the family.

Resolve to Review Like any financial plan, an estate plan is based on the best available information when the plan was developed. But once created, the work is not over. Life isn’t a snapshot; it’s more like a video that changes second by second — sometimes subtly, sometimes dramatically. Your estate plan reflects just a single frame. Shouldn’t it be edited to include the important events — and people — that make your life meaningful? Don’t put this off. Resolve to review your documents, or put new ones in place. And don’t forget to take into account any changes that could impact your plan, including family, personal interests, wealth, and changes in tax law. There are more than enough reasons to review your estate plan on a regular basis. You may not recognize a change, but your advisers might. Changes in tax laws may occur at any time and could have a substantial impact upon each person’s situation. Investors should consult a tax professional for tax advice specific to their situation. THIS ARTICLE IS PROVIDED BY

Bill Martin, CFP®

1845 Capital of Raymond James 7001 N 10th St, Ste 205 McAllen, TX 78504 956-331-2777 |




DESIGNING WITH CULTURE ERO Architects aims to transform the experience of educational spaces By Karen Villarreal


n South Texas, Ruby Red grapefruit and orange groves once stretched as far as the eye could see — a sight that one can hardly imagine today, considering all the retail centers, subdivisions, and venues for entertainment that now make up the Rio Grande Valley landscape. Raised in Mission, Eli R. Ochoa, founder and managing partner of ERO Architects, has seen how, off-the-charts, growth and development has transformed the largely agricultural region into an up-and-coming metropolis with a population of over one million. Among other factors, the sudden and exponential growth translates into a large demand for public and private schools — education projects that perfectly align with Ochoa’s goal of creating 21st century spaces of possibility and belonging for the community in which they’re placed. Confident in the power of architecture, Ochoa envisions technology and architecture intertwining to create spaces that further transform the way our children learn and relate to education.

Get to Know ERO

Ochoa’s multi-disciplinary firm specializes in the public sector. From the look of ERO Architects’ busy office and history of success, one can say with confidence that Ochoa has the right idea (respecting the land, people, and history of a community in his firm’s designs and work), and the know-how and dedication with which to execute it. Since 2001, ERO Architects have completed more than 200 public projects — some of which were nationally contested bids — and won many awards for their work. Their latest headline-making project, the new McAllen Performing Arts Center, is the 30


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perfect example of the design trinity that makes up Ochoa’s philosophy and approach to his design of public facilities. “We can design an aesthetically pretty building that you can put anywhere. But we can also design contextually. For example, the performing arts center relates to the rest of the convention center plaza in context. Taking it to the next level is to design culturally,” Ochoa said. “That’s where you put in all the metaphors and nuances that tie the building to its community.” Designing for the Public

Through the colors, symbolism, and architectural cues of the McAllen Performing Arts Center, visitors can feel comfortable, says Ochoa, because something there reminds them of their past that they connect with. “It’s subconscious but you feel it, and it helps you tie yourself to that building.” One of ERO Architects’ biggest goals is getting the community to embrace the importance of cultural design. “Our design philosophy is to have the new building reflect the culture of the community — respecting its people, history, and land. By weaving cultural elements into the design, both interior and exterior, the community has a sense of ownership to the building. We believe that ERO can be a part of the building and community’s legacy, as well.” Educational spaces

Ochoa says they’ve had the fortune of getting some iconic projects like the McAllen Performing Arts Center, but what really excites him is the ability to design educational spaces for 21st century learning. “Educational architecture is so important. In schools,

“Our design philosophy is to have the new building reflect the culture of the community – respecting its people, history and land. By weaving cultural elements into the design, both interior and exterior, the community has a sense of ownership to the building. We believe that ERO can be a part of the building and community’s legacy as well.”

- Eli R. Ochoa

we can’t control the tools students get but we can make these environments that are conducive to learning, where a student will want to learn and an educator will feel empowered to teach.” He says buildings need to relate to the customer — in the case of schools, these are teachers and students. “A lot of children and teachers spend hours, days and weeks in these facilities and we’d like to believe that we design them in a way to make learning a bit more practical, easier and a little more fun,” Ochoa said. “The opportunity to impact so many of our youth is very fulfilling to us.” He lists features being implemented in modern classrooms: open spaces, splashes of color, full spectrum lighting. “That’s why you see a lot of windows; sunlight is very important when you’re a

child. You need Vitamin E and D to grow, be healthy, stay focused.” Though he says it’s a balancing act between budgets, time, and best intentions, he hopes educational leaders understand the important positive difference architecture makes for learning. “Technology is the easiest thing to incorporate into a classroom, so that should be the last focus for learning spaces. We want to be able to leave some kind of legacy where people will understand that we can — and should — provide young learners the necessary environments for them to be successful in the 21st century.” To learn more about ERO Architects, visit their website at

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We have likely all heard about them by now. With the availability of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), also known as drones, big names like UPS, Amazon, and Domino's are tinkering with UAS with the goal of improving efficiency. Though there are some concerns regarding privacy and safety, drones can also be a valuable tool to use on the land we have around us, providing useful data from our environment. Here in parts of the Rio Grande Valley, we are already using this technology as well as researching new applications for these drones. Whether it is for mapping crops, counting fish, or spring break monitoring, drones are providing a perspective we have never had — until now. One up and coming application for drones has the potential to make a major economic difference here in South Texas. In farming and ranching, the use of drones with special infrared or heat-sensing cameras can offer a perspective that RGV farmers and ranchers have never seen — virtually everything. Imagine having 10,000 acres of land to manage. By the time pests or disease reach the edge of your field, issues are likely already widespread. Drones can offer a bird’s eye view of Valley farmland, and by pinpointing problem areas, they will not only increase the efficiency of farming but will also help us to be stewards of the environment for future generations. With this new technology, farmers can focus their treatment of pesticides and fertilizer and reduce the amount of chemicals and nutrients they are putting into the environment. Using infrared imagery, farmers can monitor the health of their crops as they watch for insects, fungus, and disease and can then take this information and apply it to their tractors for focused treatments. Even water application can be more precise, ultimately saving farmers time and money. 32


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One of two UAVs the researchers used in their red tide flyover, a 3D Robotics RTF X8+ Multicopter, recorded multispectral and thermal images.

Ranchers, too, can use drones to better manage their land. Some ranchers are even trying to herd cattle with them. “Unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, will soon play a major role in meeting the challenges of feeding a growing global population,” said Dr. Juan Enciso, a Texas A&M AgriLife researcher in Weslaco. “One day, flying a UAV will be a routine task an agricultural producer performs on a regular basis to help him efficiently maintain his crops, improve yields and optimize resources, especially water.” One of the biggest applications for drones in the delta is their unique ability monitor drought conditions. Though these conditions can be monitored with other means, UAS are quickly becoming the most efficient way to keep us informed. With water always a luxury in the delta, farmers no longer have to guess when their crops and soils have reached drought stress conditions. They can see it. Aside from their potential to revolutionize how we feed the

world, drones are also being used in the delta for saving the environment. In Cameron County and along the coast, drones are being used to monitor environmental conditions that affect our community. Last year, County Marine Agent Tony Reisinger, who works with Cameron County through the Texas Sea Grant and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, used drones along with scientists from UTRGV and TAMUCC to monitor red tide conditions that affected the Lower Laguna Madre. “Right now, we track red tide movement with satellite flyovers,” he said. “Not only is that very expensive, but data collection is sometimes limited by cloud cover. We currently determine red tide concentrations by manually taking hundreds of water samples to measure red tide cell concentrations. A multi-spectral equipped UAV could quickly do all that from the air in a fraction of the time and expense if concentrations can be correlated with color change.” Red tide conditions along South Padre Island severely influence

Tony Reisinger, Cameron County Coastal and Marine Resources Agent for Texas Sea Grant and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, left, and Dr. Jinha Jung, assistant professor of Engineering at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, review the images from UAV overflights of a red tide off South Padre Island on Sept. 20. In the background is Dr. Anjin Chang, a postdoctoral research associate in Jung’s laboratory, who assisted with the UAV launches.

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“One day, flying a UAV will be a routine task an agricultural producer performs on a regular basis to help him efficiently maintain his crops, improve yields and optimize resources, especially water.� - DR. JUAN ENCISO, A TEXAS A&M AGRILIFE RESEARCHER IN WESLACO

the ecology and wildlife that makes our environment unique. Drone monitoring research is currently being conducted to be able to not only monitor these conditions, but even further to measure the ability to count the number of fish that have died along the shore. These feats are accomplished by programming correct algorithms that can automatically distinguish and measure images and video that are obtained from surveying the land by way of the sky. Right here in the RGV, we are currently on the cusp of that research. One last application of drones you may not have seen, although

they likely saw you, occurred at spring break this year on South Padre Island. Not only can they capture breathtaking photos of the blue green bay, but these drones have also become more common in use by law enforcement as a safety measure for all the visitors in the area. UAS were not only used for monitoring people in the water, they are also beneficial in monitoring large crowds and can pinpoint where assistance may be needed in the event of an emergency. Though not yet widely used, even now, drones are capable of delivering lifesaving equipment such as a personal flotation device to a drowning person or even lifesaving medication to a patient in need. In addition to what we currently see for the future of drones, like taking photos, delivering packages, and just flying for fun, these new ecological and environmental applications are just a few of the promising uses for this rapidly advancing technology. Through further research taking place right here in the RGV, we will likely continue to see increased efficiency in ranch and farmland management, which could provide a major beneficial impact to our local economy. As technology continues to improve exponentially, keep your eye on the sky. With so much potential, who knows what they will think of next?



956 661 0400 34


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With Derrick Kinney & Associates

- It's All About Family A dedicated family man who cares for his clients like his extended family, Derrick Kinney and his team are passionate about helping each family they work with achieve the financial goals that

Derrick Kinney and his family

are important to them. Making Life Easier and Reducing Stress Recently, the Derrick Kinney & Associates team received a 99% Client Satisfaction score. Many clients commented on what a "great experience" it was to work with their team and how easy they made things. "Our goal is to make life easier and reduce stress for our clients," Kinney said. The trusted team at Derrick Kinney & Associates is there to help make their clients lives better. Helping Those who Help Their Families A family-focused practice, Derrick Kinney & Associates serves pre-retirees, retirees, professionals, and business owners. Kinney said the people he visits with have worked hard at their jobs, providing for their families, raising their kids, or building their businesses.

Giving Back to the Rio Grande Valley A strong supporter of McAllen schools, Derrick supports quality education by recognizing outstanding teachers and students. Their team gives back to worthy organizations that make our local communities stronger and help those in need.

Examples of clients they serve include: Couples who want to have enough money to travel and spend time with their grandchildren. Single parents who have worked hard to support their families. Widows that need guidance on not running out of monthly income.

Derrick Kinney with Mario Reyna, McAllen ISD Coordinator for Health & Physical Education (K-12) After School Enrichment Programs



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For a no-obligation visit with one of their friendly and knowledgeable financial advisors, contact Derrick Kinney & Associates at (956) 668-0701 or online at


Up Close with Private Wealth Advisor Derrick Kinney Designations: Chartered Advisor for Senior Living (CASL) Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) Certified Long Term Care (CLTC) Certified Retirement Planning Counselor (CRPC)

Retirement specialist Derrick Kinney is often interviewed by local and national media to make complex financial topics “easy-to-understand.” We caught up with Derrick to gain his wealth wisdom. Q: What should investors do right now? As I visit with clients, many tell me they are concerned about the stock market — will it keep going up, or should they brace for a sudden drop? Listen, it’s more important than ever to know how much risk is in each investment you own. Have your advisor run a worst-case scenario on your portfolio.

Q: Great point, Derrick! What about someone who is about to retire or is already retired. What tips do you have for them? While the future is uncertain, here are some easy, yet powerful tips: 1. For retirees, keep six months of your income needs in cash. So whatever the market does, you’re not having to sell out of something when an investment is down to maintain your lifestyle. 2. For future retirees, live on a “practice retirement budget” for three months. This is critical to knowing how much money you need to live on in retirement. Q: Derrick, you’re well-known for your passion for education and supporting local schools. Why is that important to you?

At Derrick Kinney & Associates, our clients are part of something much bigger than us just managing their money. Through us, they are helping recognize outstanding teachers and student leaders and giving back to local organizations that make a difference in our community. There isn’t a week that goes by that I don’t think about a past teacher or professor that had a big impact on me. Teaching is an honorable profession and I respect and admire their dedication. Teachers helped shape me into the man I am today. For a no-obligation visit with one of their friendly and knowledgeable financial advisors, contact Derrick Kinney & Associates at (956) 668-0701 or online at

• Interviewed on: FOX Business, FOX News, Bloomberg TV, CNBC, CNN • Recognized by Texas Monthly Magazine as a "Five Star Wealth Manager" for the fifth year • Featured in the Wall Street Journal as one of the Wealth Managers investors need to know

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STRONG, GREEN & Empowering

One local entrepreneur’s two businesses, aim to develop a healthy culture in Harlingen By K A R E N V I L L A R R E A L Photos by J A M E S H O R D



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“for sale” sign on a commercial building inspires countless potential businesses, but few people take the risk to plunge into their passion. Renea Perez is one RGV local who felt that inspiration hit when driving through downtown Harlingen over five years ago. “The space looked perfect for a studio,” she said. After hard work developed the space into the Bod Squad Training studio, she was inspired once again when the building next door became available. She went into yet another business venture with her sister and brother-in-law. “We’re a small ‘mom-and-pop’ trying to do something good for the community,” said Perez, whose two businesses do more than stimulate the economy of the Rio Grande Valley. The Bod Squad Training and Juiceology Juicebar serve healthy food, physical fitness, and nutrition information to help the RGV develop a culture of fitness. “It turned into something bigger than I thought,” she said.

healthy, says Perez. “I just fell so in love with personal training.” She wanted to share the way she felt after putting on muscle and working off over 70 pounds of post-pregnancy weight. She began to dedicate herself solely to personal training, leaving the dental field for a career she found more rewarding. After training women for about six years in other studios, Perez wanted to open up a private space of her own where her clients would feel comfortable coming in to train hard. “Sometimes women are intimidated to go into a big gym setting because of all the people, and not knowing what to do there,” Perez said. The Bod Squad provides that space, as well as a support network. “What I love about the Bod Squad is that it’s all women of different ages and sizes, and we’re all there to support and encourage each other. In our environment we’re all about positivity.”


The Bod Squad is an appointment-based personal training gym for women. “We train you according to your body type and what your goals are,” said Perez, who is in great shape herself. Individuals with no fitness background may be intimidated to start training with her, but she is quick to tell you that the reason so many of her clients work so well with her is that she relates to them, and they feel the connection as well. She lets them know that she used to be a person who never paid much attention to fitness at all. “I wasn’t watching my weight; I wasn’t very healthy. So when I got pregnant, I gained so much weight,” she said. “My body just does that.” She decided that she didn’t want to let her pregnancy dictate her body forever. “I started to go to Curves, an all-women circuit-style gym,” she said. “I fell in love with it and they asked me to start teaching their nutrition challenges, and it all started from there. It was a struggle but I lost all my weight and then some.” Since then, it’s been her passion to help other women and moms to feel empowered, strong and

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With the venture nextdoor, Perez was inspired by her travels around the country for different athletic competitions. She frequented a wide variety of healthy shops in bigger cities, and wanted the Valley to have a place of its own, providing desired services to propel a culture of health. “You used to only see this concept in places like Hawaii and New York,” Perez said, “but we have it here in little Harlingen!” Juiceology is completely distinct from Bod Squad, though many of Perez’s training clients tend to stop by after their workout for their cold-pressed juice or acai bowl. “Juiceology is something everybody can enjoy. I wanted it to appeal to people of all ages — we even have kids who come in,” Perez said. “People who aren’t hardcore about working out won’t feel intimidated coming in and getting something to drink or eat. There are so

many fast food places out there but this is one place where you know you can get something pure.” Juiceology tries to use as much local produce as possible, including grapefruits from local groves and organic wheatgrass from a grower in Mission. Information is displayed throughout the juice bar to educate on the benefits of each ingredient. “We really try to help people learn what they’re putting into their body, and then we can juice it right in front of you.” Perez says that juices made with turmeric, ginger, wheatgrass are especially good for your health and can be ingested daily, though she never encourages people to replace all their food with juice. “Juicing daily can better your health by simply providing natural energy,” she explains.


Perez’s husband, who is certified in performance nutrition, also offers nutritional consultations and customized meal plans. “We all have different lives and different tastes,” Perez said. “Performance nutrition goes hand-in-hand with exercise and what we’re doing here so he gives them guidance according to their goals and what they will follow through on.” Additionally, the Bod Squad offers a 30-minute, high-intensity, interval training circuit that is open to the public. “It’s really awesome, and you don’t have to be a client to go to that class. It’s good for people who don’t have a lot of time,” Perez said. Having reinvented herself three times (once after each pregnancy), Perez understands that turning one’s habits around takes a lot of work, consistency, and dedication, but her two businesses aim to help anyone who wants to take the first step. “It’s worth it,” she said.



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VOM O FASS A Franchise Story Franchise entrepreneurship can be difficult, but rewarding By JOSE DE LEON III Photos by KEVIN MARTINEZ



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wning and running a business is a dream for many people, but starting from the ground up is not the only path available to entrepreneurs. Some seize opportunities provided by large established companies, and enter the business world by opening a franchise. Franchise owners can enjoy an extra source of income and the opportunity to be their own boss. However, owning a franchise can also be a daunting task. Franchise owners must put in a lot of work to prove they have what it takes to run a successful brand in a specific market. Among those franchise owners are Jerry and Sandie Treviño, who are opening a vomFASS store in McAllen at the Palms Crossing Shopping Center in May 2017. vomFASS is an eclectic, Germanybased shop for oils, vinegars, spirits, and spices from around the world. The Treviños will be opening the first vomFASS location in the Valley, so RGVision reached out to the Treviños to discuss their experience with launching a franchise.

If you’re fully committed, you need to have the time for it. We’re reaching the end of our careers but we’re not ready to sit around all day watching TV. This will be our next career.

Jerry and Sandie were initially drawn into vomFASS store while on their honeymoon in San Francisco a few years ago. After enjoying the experience of tasting countless vomFASS products in-store and then further relishing the vinegars and oils they purchased for their home, they realized it was something the Rio Grande Valley would embrace. The vomFASS franchise model requires owners to manage and be active participants in the stores they own. “This intrigued us because we didn’t just want to own a business and let someone else run it,” Jerry said. “We liked the products so much that we wanted to share it with others.”


One of the most important factors for the success of any franchise owner is passion for their product and store. “What would be the point of leading a business if you don’t believe in your product?” Sandie said. According to Sandie, the faith she and her husband had in the vomFASS “taste before you buy” European concept, was what motivated them to start a franchise. “We loved it to the point that we thought, ‘We need more,’” Jerry said. “It’s that kind of attitude that you’ll need to sell a product. When people visit your business, they’re expecting an experience from enthusiastic individuals who believe in the product, and we will provide that.”


Having come from corporate backgrounds, both Jerry and Sandy believed, gave them an advantage in preparing to open a franchise utilizing their strong organizational and planning skills. “One of the first things we asked ourselves when we were thinking of opening a vomFASS in McAllen was, ‘Are the products offered unique to the Valley?’” Jerry said. We felt the products offered by vomFASS would fulfill a niche for the people in the Rio Grande Valley..” For Jerry, a retired staff auto damage appraiser with State Farm Insurance, researching a business is all part of the hard work expected of business owners. According to Sandie, the couple researched the city of McAllen by looking at gross sales dollars, tax revenue the city brought in during the last few years, and talked to local retailers to see what kind of business they experienced. “We felt that Palms Crossing Shopping Center offered the best location for our store,” Sandie said. “The up-and-coming shopping center offers shopping, great restaurants, entertainment for tourists, local residents, and Mexican Nationals who visit McAllen.”


Jerry and Sandie were awarded their franchise in December 2015 — needless to say, it has been a long process from the time the Trevino’s first experienced vomFASS to the point of opening their store. There were many steps involved in the franchise process. “We’ve obtained a small business administration loan to assist with the initial costs, attended meetings with the franchise owner and executive directors of the U.S. side of the franchise, traveled to the U.S. headquarters in Madison, Wisconsin, worked with various franchise team members to finalize the store location, design and layout,” Jerry said. According to the vomFASS website, the franchise start-up costs range from $350,000 to more than $700,000. Jerry and Sandie have put in countless hours and hard work into the store to get it ready for the grand opening in May, but that’s just the beginning of the franchisees’ journey. They plan on dedicating 100 percent of their time to the store once it opens. Sandie, who was SVP of Marketing and Branch Operations for Security First Credit Union, said “To be fully committed, you need to make the time for it, so I decided to resign my position at the credit union and dedicate my time to the success of the store. We’re reaching the end of our careers but we’re not ready to sit around all day watching TV. This will be our next career.” “It’s quite an undertaking,” Jerry said. “It’s a lot of work, but it has been a great experience and we’ll see how it goes once we open in May. You go into uncharted waters that will always surprise you; you just have to deal with it. The wheel really starts turning when you open the business, but we’re confident because hard work pays off.”

More information on vomFASS can be found on their website at M AY / J U N E 2 0 1 7






“I’ve been shooting as far back as I can remember,” said Danny Gallegos Jr., and he isn’t talking about photography — his dad taught him about firearms, ammo, and taking aim early in life. He remembers long car trips out to ranch properties for the lessons; once outside of the city, they could enjoy target practice. 46


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The need to travel so far to enjoy their favorite hobby sparked his passion for Point Blank, the shooting range and hunting supply store located in Pharr, Texas. “We wanted a nice facility where people don’t have to travel too far to shoot — somewhere indoors so they don’t have to contend with the wind and heat of South Texas,” he said. “Now that we have that space, we want to help more people get started with shooting. We try to create an environment where they feel welcome in the range.” The variety of people lined up for their turn to shoot serve as testament to his vision, as not only is Point Blank providing a place for gun and archery enthusiasts to purchase their gear and practice their sport, they have also fostered new experiences and relationships by hosting “Ladies Day” every Tuesday for the last several years. What started as a monthly Ladies Night grew into an all-day opportunity every Tuesday for women who have a desire to shoot a gun or bow. Saira Gonzalez had never shot a gun before coming to Point Blank’s Ladies Day, but she liked what she saw and was back for her second time shooting. “There were a lot of girls — like 80 percent of the people shooting were girls because it was a Tuesday,” she said, adding that her first time in the range wasn’t as scary as she thought it was going to be. Though Gonzalez was drawn to Point Blank for personal safety reasons, Ladies Day is an opportunity for anyone: whether learning to defend themselves, trying something new to step out of their comfort zone, or just blowing off a little steam against a paper target.


Gun Club Is Not a Guy’s Club “Shooting is often perceived as a male thing but it’s not; it’s for anyone who enjoys it,” Gallegos Jr. said. “Sometimes women have been raised with the idea that it’s ‘dad’s gun’ or ‘brother’s gun,’ but you can go online and see that there are women competing in these professional leagues and competitions.” As for Point Blank, Gallegos says they have many groups of young women who come and shoot, like some Girl Scout troops who use Point Blanks archery range, and they’ve seen leagues form as well. “We have a lot of regulars, but we see new people every day — and we see everything,” said Rafael Guerrero, who has been working with Point Blank since it opened. “Fatherdaughter moments, couples on dates, ladies meeting up, entire families having an outing. … We’ve done bachelor and bachelorette parties, and we’ve even had a proposal here, and wedding pictures taken in the range.” Point Blank wants to be as inviting as possible to share their love of sharp shooting with as many people as possible, from longtime hobbyists to the greenest beginner. Learn to Conquer the Fear First time shooters might be a bit timid around firearms, but Gallegos says it’s like driving a car — the more you practice, the better you get. “You just have to come, have someone teach you,” he said. Point Blank offers first-time shooter courses that cover basics like stance, grip, and safety, followed by practice and implementation of everything you learned in the range. “You don’t have to take the course; most first-time shooters usually come with an experienced shooter: a friend, brother, father who brings them here and they practice together for the first time,” Gallegos said. However, he mentioned that sometimes, for whatever reason, it’s easier to learn from someone you don’t know personally. Gallegos says that it’s not uncommon for first-timers who said that they are scared or don’t like guns to come out of the range for the first time after the class smiling. “That’s what we like to see,” he said. “First-time shooters often find that they love it and discover their new hobby. It’s a good way to relax for a lot of people; it’s how they de-stress after a long week. Some people have game night — others come out and shoot with their friends.”

A New Experience “We also see groups of women — more experienced shooters who have been shooting since they were younger — who want to try something new,” Gallegos said. “They come in with their own guns, try out each others’ guns, and since part of Ladies Day is free handgun rentals, they can practice with even more types.” Point Blank has a wide variety of guns and bows that can be rented and tried out in the range. “A very popular one right now that people want to try out is the Glock 42. They get the chance to see if it’s comfortable for them,” he said. Catherine Wilson had her first shooting experience at a Ladies Day in April, coming in on a whim after seeing it announced on Facebook. “I don’t like to do the same thing all the time,” she said. “I want to do something original and have fun doing it. I’m kind of nervous, but I guess we’ll find out how good my aim is.” Though she intended to shoot for fun, Wilson found herself thinking seriously about self-defense while preparing her target before her turn in the range. “If I maybe do decide to get a gun for my household, I could learn how to use it here and then be able to protect my family,” she explained. “It’s something I’m looking into so I’m going to keep coming and see what guns I like and then I’ll decide later down the road.” The more she practices, she will be better prepared should she ever need to use her shooting skills in a defense situation. Iliana Hernandez had the mirror experience to Wilson; Hernandez had initially stopped by Point Blank for defense reasons, but after shooting for fun with her husband and son, she decided to come back every Tuesday. “We have my husband’s guns at home so I decided to learn to protect myself,” said Hernandez, who had never done any sort of personal defense previously. “When it’s just me and the gun, and I’m taking aim, I feel confident — empowered.” Hernandez says she has found her new de-stressing activity. “I’m super proud of myself. Today, my first eight rounds were all in the middle,” she said. “I guess I’m a natural.”

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MILE Four Cheers for Gold Financial’s Top Performers! By L O R I H O U S T O N

FOR MORE THAN 20 YEARS, Gold Financial has been providing highly personalized mortgage services, but you won’t find any unapproachable “banker types” among their ranks of loan originators. The Gold team knows that behind each loan is a person’s story, and they care about each one. With a vested interest in every individual who comes into Gold Financial, the staff work hard empowering them to achieve their dreams of homeownership. Four of Gold Financial’s top performers in the Rio Grande Valley share how they set themselves apart when serving Valley residents; they attribute their success to being personable, ambitious, innovative, and dedicated.


Fostering Relationships

Kenneth Hammonds has been the branch manager for the McAllen office of Gold Financial for the last two years. As a 15-year veteran of the mortgage business, Hammonds admits he was astonished by the family dynamic at Gold Financial. He recalled a phone call he received from the owner after being with the company a few months. “This man probably had a million other things to do, but he called to check on me. He truly cares about his



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people. This is a man — a company — I will always be loyal to. ” When leadership constantly sets that example for employees, friendliness becomes embedded in the company culture. “In this business, relationships are everything,” Hammonds said. “It’s not just business, it is what’s going on in people’s lives, how their kids are, what ups or downs someone may be going through. Being there for your relationships is important. You’ve got to care for people.”

The ability to help more people achieve homeownership is what motivates Corina Backer. She believes in educating her clients, keeping them on track, and challenging herself. Every expectation she has for herself is never enough; she always expands on every goal she sets. “No matter what little goal I set for myself, I set it, but then I just go that little extra because I want to feel good about things — that I met my goal and more,” she said. For example, if she tells a client she will try to close in 30 days, she pushes for 20 instead. The support she receives from Gold Financial has allowed her to keep building up her business. “Whenever I challenge myself, they support me 100 percent, asking what I need from them to accomplish my goal,” Backer said. She cites her loan partner/assistant, Sandy Reyes, as one of the reasons she’s so successful in satisfying customers. “Sandy is so knowledgeable and is very hands-on with each client's file,” Backer said. “She is a ‘Jill of all trades.’ We are a team and I couldn't accomplish my success without her.”


Next-Level Tech

Ricardo Torres innovated to assist his referral partners in reaching out and helping more people get into their dream homes. “I went stronger and deeper with my relationships with my referral partners,” Torres said. “By having more and more conversations and getting to know how they're doing their business, I saw how my business can complement theirs.” Torres implemented more technology to boost his performance and add more value to what he brings to Gold Financial. He works with realtors, helping them with open houses by using social media to bring prospective homebuyers in to see what is available. “I embraced technology — different pieces of it that can enhance what I was already doing,” he said. Torres put systems in place to take care of more customers and help more people. He said that adding mobile applications, database systems and customer relationship management systems has taken him to the next level “because there is only so much you can remember and so much you can do on paper.”


Owning Your Work



Setting Personal Goals


Lisa Olgin takes a hands-on approach that gives her control over her business dealings. “I’m the person who’s going to help you throughout the whole transaction,” she said. “I’m not going to say, ‘OK, it was nice meeting you; now from here you can go talk to some other person.’” Olgin is happiest making things work for her clients and solving problems that others have not been able to solve. “I take pride in my work, and I love what I do,” she said. Olgin says she was given the opportunity to flourish at Gold Financial. The support and encouragement have allowed her to keep moving forward with every opportunity she could make for herself. “It was tough at the beginning as I was a building my network,” she said. However, eventually more people were noticing her commitment to her clients, and that led to more referrals which led her to be recognized as a top producer — and an inspiration to her sons. Gold Financial believes in people first and prides themselves on providing the best possible service they can for Valley residents through personalized assistance and innovative mortgage solutions. The people at Gold Financial really value the trust put in them by their clients and have responded by consistently stepping up and going that extra mile for them. “I’m committed to my clients because they're entrusting me with something that they've always dreamed of having,” Olgin said. “You should always treat people the way you want to be treated, and you should always be there for them.”

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By D E B R A A T L A S

population of kids and families with disabilities is large. In McAllen alone, around 1,000 kids with special needs have been identified. Some may have learning disabilities (i.e. ADHD, dyslexia) or other non-Medicaid issues, but other families depend on Medicaid for access to therapy and medication. Among the mandates of the Texas Legislature’s latest approved budget was a $100 million cut to the federal-state Medicaid insurance program, slashing payments to speech, physical and occupational therapists who provide services that make a difference in the lives of children with special needs. “These kids don't usually get out much,” Melanie Watson, physical therapist and co-founder of the non-profit Capable Kids Foundation. “They have to deal with accessibility issues, people staring, feeling like they're causing trouble for people, putting people out.” During this same timeframe, Texas refused to participate in Medicaid expansion, which was part of the Affordable Care Act. Participating would have meant approximately $100 billion over the next decade, funding that would have helped the state's poor, elderly, and disabled. The cuts to Medicaid were based on data from a questionable academic study; a summary found that Texas paid higher rates to therapy providers than other states. This resulted in the Legislature shifting Medicaid and its health and human services programs to “coordination through a capitated managed care program for remaining fee-forservice populations” which would “incentivize the most appropriate and effective use of services.” Translation: efficiency and cost savings beat out special needs.



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Previously, Medicaid was managed by the state, Watson says. Managed care, better known as the Star Kids program, has created some serious issues. A family at the clinic where Watson works was told their child was on too many seizure medications. Their insurance company would only approve medication for one month, then they would need a note from the doctor to get more. That meant a risk of delayed approval and a potential health crisis. “Parents have had two-hour phone conversations to try to explain why their kids need what they need,” Watson said. “Someone who doesn't know (these kids) is making decisions on what they need.” Another 501c3, Protect TX Fragile Kids, represents around 1,600 kids throughout Texas. They work to educate and inform families while helping them advocate with the legislature. “It was an awful ‘perfect storm’ converging together when the cuts went through,” said Hannah Mehta, the Foundation's Director. Managed care has created disruptions in the kids’ daily routines, which disrupts the care they need to build on to make progress. “When there's a break in that care, that progress tends to move backwards,” Mehta said. “The kids are regressing, and the longer they go without care, the more they regress.” What the politicians aren't considering, Mehta says, is that it's not an appropriate model for this population and their medical needs. “Instead of addressing flaws in the system, it's created more bureaucracy,” said Mehta. “Now it's difficult to keep kids at their baseline.” She's seen kids who couldn't get their medication and/or equipment approved in time, and delays or denials of life-sustaining equipment such as oxygen tanks and ventilators have created life-threatening situations.

One child had to be admitted to the hospital for an infusion that would normally have been done at home but approval had been delayed. “(That child) would have been died in 12 hours if he hadn't been admitted,” she said. “What's forgotten,” said Mehta, “is that it's already a cost savings to the state — keeping kids at home and out of institutions. As a taxpayer, it's in state's and family's best interest that these programs are sustainable.” In late March, the Texas House introduced a bill that sought to restore half of the funds cut from Medicaid in 2015. But since no such bill was passed in the Texas Senate, no action could occur. The issue — and the kids — would have to wait another two years for the next legislative session. In early April 2017, the House passed a new budget that included an amendment taking $43 million from the Texas Enterprise Fund, redirected half of the funds to providing acute therapy services for children with disabilities (the other half went towards Child Protective Services and foster care funding). The $21.5 million is only a drop in the bucket compared to the $350 million that was cut in 2015, but it is a step in the right direction. Looking to the future, Mehta says, “Let's work together to find the most effective way to address budgetary constraints while still serving these children.”

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CHILDREN & SOCIAL MEDIA: Effective Parenting Strategies

THE AGE OF MEDIA & TECHNOLOGY The age of media is still alive and only growing. As many of us can attest, technological advances have made our lives easier by keeping us in contact with our family, peers, and by providing us access to any information at the push of a button. However, can we say that it is easier for families with children? The social networking media is all the rage and is constantly changing. New and up-and-coming apps are released all the time, and sometimes even go so far to dictate the lives of our children. Whether it be Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, or Facebook, our children are always in sync with their social media community, and these never-ending rapid changes make it harder for parents to sensor and supervise children's online lives.

CONSUMPTION OF SOCIAL MEDIA BY CHILDREN Children can be consumed by their online life paying little attention to the world around them. For instance, children spend an average of six-and-a-half hours a day on electronics and teenagers spend an average of nine hours a day on social media (Wallace, 2015). Moreover, 56 percent of children ages 8 and older have a form of social media; of those 56 percent, 67 percent claim that they know how to hide their online endeavors from their parents. These statistics show the honest truth that most parents are not aware of the online life their children have. It is crucial that parents talk to their children and provide the necessary information to help their children understand the importance of social media safety.



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MONITORING YOUR CHILD’S SOCIAL MEDIA USAGE As a parent, you may want to completely prohibit your child from using social media to protect them from the potential dangers. However, this is the primary method of communicating and expressing oneself to the new generation and it is not an easy feat to keep them off these apps. Instead, it is simpler to regulate their use and make sure they are posting and writing carefully on social media. Chances are that if they have access to a cellphone, computer, or tablet, they will begin to sneak around, which is the real danger.

RECOMMENDATIONS 1. Emerge. Do not hesitate to create an account and fully connect to social media so that you can be aware of the content your child may be exposed to. 2. Understand your child’s needs

and desires.

Your child may engage in frequent social media to communicate with friends. Consider having a movie night or out-of-town weekend once a month with your child, and his/her friends to reduce desire for constant messaging. 3. Restrict and condition usage. Even if you are aware and satisfied with the content your child seeks on the internet, restrict his or her access to it. Set up limits of one hour a day of electronics and social media. Do not permit usage of electronics during dinner time — it should be family time. Condition the access to media and electronics to your child’s academic performance and general behavior: “for cellphone (access to Facebook, tablet, etc.) you must get good grades,” thus using a healthy behavioral reinforcement strategy as a parent.

There is a lot of things that one can do as a parent to help their child make better decisions when it comes to social media, but the most important thing is education. Teaching a child to think before they post is important. Pictures and information that get posted online is forever and can have terrible longterm consequences. As a parent, talking to your child about your concerns regarding their safety and what information is appropriate to post online is crucial. It may also be helpful for you to make your own social media account so that can have firsthand experience in what a specific networking media consists of.

4. Privacy and Personal information.

Explain your child about the consequences of posting personal information such as address, date of birth, school he/she attends, and other sensitive content. Once again, once you post on the internet it will be virtually impossible to erase it. Just because you delete something from your account doesn't mean someone didn't save it or posted it. 5. Be open with your child. If your child does not feel comfortable talking to you then expect him or her to find other sources of help or advice. Most likely, the internet will be one of those, but not all of the information they find will be either accurate or adequate for them. If you want to avoid your child learning inaccurate or inadequate-for-hisage information, become his or hers most trusted source. This lead us to the next point — trust.

6. Build trust. Encourage your child to tell you the occurrences he/she finds on social media. From the trivial video of puppies falling down a ladder to the friend request of a social media with a semi-nude profile picture, ask your child to share with you his/her encounters to be fully aware of his activity and internet surroundings. 7. Education is the key. Learn what’s happening in the website or social media your child engages on and the trending topics and celebrities he or she follows. Learn how to implement childsafe filter in YouTube, underage guidelines on Facebook, and the adult-content exclusion feature on your child’s social media. References available upon request (Co-Authors include Dr. Mercado’s Mental Health Lab at UTRGV: Paola Quijano, Melissa Briones, Abigail Nunez-Saenz, Andy Torres, & Armando Villarreal-Sosa)


ALFONSO MERCADO, PH.D., LICENSED PSYCHOLOGIST Valley Psychological Services - Assistant Professor-Department of Psychology at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

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The Naked Truth About Sciatica: What’s really going on. By Fortino Gonzalez, PT, Dip MDT, FAAOMPT, OCS


veryone knows at least one person that is dealing with or has dealt with an episode of sciatica. Sciatica is a medical condition characterized by pain, numbness, tingling and/ or weakness that may radiate down into one or both lower extremities below your knee, which may or may not produce lower back or buttock pain. If you think this definition is confusing, try doing a Google search, or better yet, go and see a medical professional that treats sciatica. If you speak to 10 different clinicians, you may get 10 different opinions. Let’s strip it down and help you make better sense of this condition that affects up to 40 percent of North Americans at least once in their lives. Most of these cases will resolve spontaneously over the course of six to eight weeks no matter what you do; however, the recurrence rate can be as high as 88 percent, and with each recurrence the episode is typically more debilitating, symptoms are more intense, and they travel further down into the leg and take longer to resolve.

Sciatica Defined Sciatica is often referred to as a lumbar radiculopathy by many practitioners, which in essence implies that a nerve root from your lower spine is being compressed



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causing symptoms into a specific nerve distribution pattern known as a dermatome. The most common analogy I use when explaining this to patients is the “funny bone” experience that we have all had the displeasure of going through. If you compress your “funny bone,” which is actually your ulnar nerve with enough force, you will experience symptoms and/or pain along the path of that same nerve. Compress your “funny bone” with enough force, and your fourth and fifth digits will quickly let you know. So, put simply, sciatica is caused by abnormal compression of a nerve that runs into your lower extremity. That being said, the solution to this problem lies in finding a way to take the pressure off the nerve. Symptoms or pain will be influenced by position, posture, and/ or movement. If certain positions or movements increase your pain, then there should be certain positions or movements that will in turn decrease or abolish your symptoms/ pain. About 90 to 95 percent of sciatica cases are caused by a disc pressing on one or more lumbar or sacral nerve roots. The remaining 5 to 10 percent of these cases can be caused by spinal stenosis (bone spurs, spondylolisthesis, or inflammation), “piriformis syndrome,” or pregnancy with less than one-tenth of

1 percent of cases being attributed to spinal tumors. In a few cases if the nerve is compressed with enough force over a prolonged period of time, the patient may experience lower extremity weakness (foot drop) or bladder dysfunction (bladder retention) and/or loss of anal sphincter control causing bowel dysfunction (cauda equina syndrome); all of which require immediate medical care by your physician. About 66 percent of the time, patients report an insidious onset, meaning that there was not a one time incident that caused their symptoms/pain. In these cases we must take a hard look at what these patients are doing throughout their day helping them identify potential sources, and contrary to popular belief, seldom is it their mattress.

The Treatment The bare essence is that the vast majority of sciatica cases are influenced by position, posture, and/or movement; thus, they should be evaluated with this in mind. Simply put, if you treat the symptom, in this case the leg pain, you will be “chasing your tail” in hopes that the problem will resolve itself. Generally speaking, the stretching of a compressed nerve root is highly discouraged as this can often make the nerve root more angry and irritated, which could lead to further problems. It is well documented that sciatica needs movement; however, the question becomes: do you want to be specific with your treatment/ movement (Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy Assessment guided by the evidence) or general (the “sciatica exercises” that you found on the internet or your well meaning friend recommended)? Fortino Gonzalez is a physical therapist, Diplomat of the McKenzie Institute, Certified in Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy (Dip MDT), Fellow of The American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists (FAAOMPT), and a Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist in Physical Therapy (OCS) serving the Rio Grande Valley from his practice, McAllen Physical Therapy. To learn more, visit www. or call (956) 661-1964.


Fortino Gonzalez Mcallen Physical Therapy 956-661-1964 |


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“AHHHH.” Find Health And Relaxation At The Dentist By George Cox Photos by Gabriel Elizondo The office is in one of Harlingen’s most historic buildings. A chandelier hangs in the lobby. Art hangs on the wall. Soft music plays. Smiling faces greet you, ready to help make your visit a pleasant experience. While this may be a familiar first impression for a professional office, visitors may be surprised to learn that this is a dentistry.

“The dental chairs are massage chairs. It’s very subtle as it massages the lumbar and the back. A lot of patients don’t even realize it’s on. It’s very subtle.” - Dr. Brenda Landeros



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“Our goal has been exactly that,” Dr. Brenda Landeros said. “We strive every day to make this environment different from the stereotypical dental office. Our goal is to have our patients be comfortable and feel at ease.” Few people can say that they haven’t had a fear of dentists at some point in their lives. That fear often causes people to avoid dental care, which allows problems to grow worse. “We see it all the time, that people are afraid,” she said. “We take that on as a challenge.”

Easing Fears Someone who has avoided dental care may need significant, and at times expensive, treatment. Landeros knows the story well, frequently meeting new patients who have difficulty overcoming their fears. “That person might not be ready — financially or emotionally,” Landeros said. “It may take time, maybe years to get them there. First it’s our responsibility to help maintain or help get them to a healthy dental state.” Valley Family Dentistry offers a full range of dental services, with treatment plans tailored to individual patient needs. An initial visit to Valley Family Dentistry typically includes a conversation with the patient to explore their history and identify any fears of dentistry they may have. Landeros frequently sees patients who have ignored dental treatment out of fear. “Our goal is to first talk with them,” she said. “We ask why they have fears. Many times it’s because of a bad previous

COMING SOON experience. The patient may feel better just talking about things. A patient can offer a lot of information that won’t come up in a dental questionnaire.”

Spend a Day at the Dental Spa Landeros is among a growing number of dentists throughout the country who try to create a soothing atmosphere that helps them treat patients’ fears as well as their oral health — sometimes known as a dental spa. Every detail of the Valley Family Dentistry office, from the lobby to the treatment rooms, has been carefully designed by Landeros and her team to help apprehensive patients overcome their fears of dental work. “We have candles and fresh flowers when we can,” she said. “We try to create a soft touch to the environment.” The relaxing atmosphere extends right into the treatment rooms, where massage chairs and aromatherapy help to alleviate tension. “The dental chairs are massage chairs,” Landeros said. “It’s very subtle as it massages the lumbar and the back. A lot

of patients don’t even realize it’s on. It’s very subtle.” At the heart of the experience, of course, is the serious business of providing good dental health care.

Taste the World’s Finest Oils, Vinegars, Spirits, and Wines Before You Buy!

Oral Health For All Licensed as a dentist in 2006 after graduating from Baylor College of Dentistry in Dallas, Landeros has been the sole owner of Valley Family Dentistry since 2010. Four years ago, the Valley native moved her practice into the historic Reese Building in downtown Harlingen. Education is part of the personal touch she provides to her patients. Landeros said she strives to help patients take responsibility for their own dental health. “It’s very important to me that the patient knows exactly what is going on,” she said. “They feel like they are part of the team, part of the decision making. It becomes a matter of trust.” To learn more about Valley Family Dentistry, visit their website at www.

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Palms Crossing · Ste. 1240 McAllen, TX, 78501




Ouch! Breaking up with your Finger

By Jose De Leon III Our hands are one of the primary ways we interact with the world. We touch, feel, grab, and grasp people and everyday objects — such as this magazine you’re holding. Because of how often we use our hands, it’s pretty common to get them hurt in a lot of different ways. According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control in Atlanta, about 30,000 people — both kids and adults — are rushed to U.S. emergency rooms each year because they've amputated a finger. An injury can involve a sharp cut, a crushing injury, a tearing injury, or a combination of these injury types. An amputation can result from slamming your finger in a car door or catching your ring on a hook or nail. Your fingertips are rich with nerves and are extremely sensitive. Because of this, a fingertip injury can cause problems with hand function without prompt and proper treatment and may even result in permanent deformity or disability. The two most common causes of accidental finger amputations are from things many of us come into contact with everyday: doors and power tools. According to that same study, three out of four finger amputations in children under the age of 4 resulted from fingers that were caught, jammed, or crushed 60


while closing a door. In men aged 55 and older, more than half of all finger amputations were caused by power tools, mainly power saws. Even with a high number of accidental amputations, are you aware of what to do with a body part once it’s been detached? According to first aid advice from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the first thing you do when a body part becomes detached is to control the bleeding. Put direct pressure on the wound and elevate it higher than the heart. Then rinse off the severed finger or toe (or part thereof ) to decrease the bacteria without scrubbing it, as you could cause blunt force damage. This is the most important part: Grab a clean cloth or piece of sterile gauze, dampen it with cold water, and wrap the finger or toe in it. Then put the wrapped appendage into a plastic bag and put the bag in cold (preferably iced) water. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, people must avoid putting the appendage in direct contact with ice since it could give it freezer burn, damaging it to the extent of making reattachment difficult. And finally, make sure you have the appendage with you at all times. If you give the wrapped appendage for someone to hold as you make your way to the emergency room, you risk being further separated from your appendage. M AY / J U N E 2 0 1 7

Recovery from an accidental amputation may take several months. After your injury heals, mild to severe pain and sensitivity to cold may continue for up to a year or may even be permanent. Consult a doctor if you encounter any of these problems.

What to Do if Your Finger Gets Cut Off In the event that your finger is amputated during an accident, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons offers this advice: - Apply pressure to the injured area immediately. - Gently cleanse the amputated part with water (or saline if you have it.) - Cover the amputated part in gauze wrap. - Put it in a watertight bag. - Place the bag on ice. - Do not put the amputated part directly on ice. You could further damage it. - Take the amputated part with you to the emergency room immediately.

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adult day

It’s Never Too Early to Prepare for the Golden Years By I R E N E W A Z G O W S K A



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Bringing up the future with an elder loved one can be difficult for many reasons, but discussing how they will be cared for as they age is a very important and necessary conversation to have. More than 70 percent of Americans older than 65 will need some form of Long Term Services (LTS) or support, with most people requiring help with daily activities when they’re in their 80s and 90s. However, the majority of the population fails to plan accordingly. In fact, Baby Boomers are approximately five times more likely to prepare for death versus life. This is an issue that concerns George Linial, President & CEO of LeadingAge Texas. His nonprofit trade association works to advocate for aging service professionals to inspire, serve, and advocate on behalf of the elderly. Over 35 Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) throughout the state pay dues to LeadingAge Texas. These dues cover

representation for legislation at the state level, and continued education for all disciplines that work in these communities. “Our society is aging pretty rapidly and more resources are needed,” Linial said. “10,000 people are turning 65 everyday in the United States.” Linial cautions that people mistakenly think that Medicare pays for long-term care. For those without financial resources, Medicaid will pay for care, but as it’s the fastest growing part of the state budget (approximately 33 percent), it will continue to crowd out other state funding. LeadingAge Texas wants to see the burden of long term care on families and the state addressed, in order to ease the burden on both. He advises that people start thinking about their long-term healthcare needs long in advance. This way you can be prepared both mentally and financially.

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DECIDING WHICH TYPE OF CARE IS BEST FOR YOUR FAMILY MEMBER The type of elder care you or your family choose for yourself or a loved one is often determined by the needs that must be met and the financial resources available. In-home care services can be helpful when additional everyday assistance is needed. There are a vast assortment of services that can cover physical needs, home upkeep, and errand running. Websites such as can be utilized as a resource to locate providers for hire in your area. Continuing Care Retirement Communities are another option that provide a wide range of Long Term Services. Individuals can live independently while having resources available 24/7, and community members with special needs are insured that their needs for care are met. These communities provide the opportunity for individuals to stay close to their partners and friends in the same community, even as they age and the services they require change. When an individual’s situation is acute and they need to be housed in a nursing home, George Linial advises that it’s important to research what the best facilities are in your area. Through a Medicare. gov Nursing Home Compare search, you can learn about the score given to local facilities. In addition, he encourages families to physically visit nursing homes to look for: “Does it look like there’s enough activities going on? Are the residents taken care of ? Does the staff smile? Does the staff have a good positive attitude?” These are critical to the happiness of an individual and cannot be measured from data. “It’s what you want your loved one to get.”



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IN-HOME ASSISTANCE BRINGS RELIEF FOR FAMILY Debra Lachico is a program specialist at the Lower Rio Grande Development Council Area Agency on Aging. She is happy to support the needs of older Americans (60 and over) and their family caregivers, as her connection to the organization is a very personal one — she first found the organization when she and her sister were in need of elder care for their own parents. Their father had been a shrimper and was concerned that under the Medicaid Estate Recovery Program, he could lose his home and lot. He was determined not to let this happen. “He refused services from the state,” said Lachico, so she sought out alternatives to help ease the stress of looking after her parents on her own. During this time, Lachico was also searching for employment, had a son in college, and was overwhelmed by the 24-hour job of taking care of her parents. When she found the Area Agency on Aging as an alternative to regular state funded services, she called repeatedly, for weeks inquiring as to what position her parents held on the waiting list. When their application finally came through, “it was a blessing,” she said, as she had been commuting daily from Brownsville to her parents’ home in Harlingen. Now she and her sister would be able to hire a professional to help with their parents’ needs. It so happened that a family friend’s trusted provider, who already knew her mother, was available. Lachico was relieved to know that they would now be in good hands. “It helped save our sanity,” she said. The family’s relationship with the provider became an important bond, and she was with them for the passing of Lachico’s dad, and later the passing of her mom. “She has become a family friend.” Shortly after securing care for her parents, Lachico learned about a job opportunity with the Area Agency on Aging. Lachico, who has worked in social service agencies for over 40 years says she “qualified, applied, and got the job!” Now 11 years after starting with the agency, supports the organization’s objective to improve the quality of life of older persons through a coordinated social service delivery system at the regional level.

adult day care

FINDING JOY IN DAY CARE Adult day care centers are other care options that provide daytime relief to working families. These programs serve to prevent and delay individuals from having to be institutionalized, and offer an opportunity for healthy social interaction. Costs can vary from $25 to over $100 daily depending on the services that are provided. Typically adult day care centers are not covered by Medicare insurance, but some financial assistance may be available through state and federal programs. Josefa Espinosa, who is 80 years old, attends the Amigos y Familia Adult Day Care in Mission. She came to the adult day care at the invitation of the center — no commitment required. Josefa found the center to her liking, and accepted the invitation. She had suffered from depression, and when her husband passed some years ago, it worsened. But as she found herself at Amigos Y Familia, her outlook on life changed. At the center she has a group of friends, a community of people who enjoy the days in each other’s company and good will. “At the center, that’s where I have my friends — very good friends,” she said happily. Josefa has been a client of the center’s for about a year now. Her decision to join was a very practical one. “The girls work, so I thought, what am I doing here by myself ? It was only a few hours alone, and I was okay, but I feel more comfortable at the center. Those of us who are a little weak in the knees, we play Loteria, we sing, we get along.” Josefa is

admittedly a shy person by nature, and was only used to the company of her family. But at the center she has blossomed with her new friends. “We care a lot about each other,” she said. They are always checking in and asking “how are you?” and “how have you been?” For her part, Josefa said, “I feel better now; I don’t feel my sickness so much.” Yolanda recalls that after Josefa started going to the center, she saw a new attitude in her mother. “It’s helped her a lot with her depression to talk to people her age,” she said. “I recommend it to people who are in their home a lot and they have the possibility of attending a day center like this, because it might help them to do the activities they have there.” While the center provides necessary care like serving meals and medication to its clients, it’s the fun stuff that makes their day. “They have activities like karaoke, fitness, lots of crafts. My mom likes cross-stitching, so they have a lot of fun,” Yolanda said. “And when it’s their birthday, they take them a trio or a conjunto and they dance, the ones that can, and the others watch. The music and liveliness helps them.” “Tomorrow there is a party,” Josefa said. “They didn’t tell us a theme or anything this time, but we always go mas-o-menos.” Her daughter interjects to comment on how welldressed the center’s clients go to special occasions. “She gets excited to pick out her outfits and jewelry, just like kids asking what they’re wearing to the next day of school — because they like going. They’re all very cute at that day care. Lots of positivity.” LeadingAge Texas: This organization represents John Knox Village CCRC in Weslaco. COG Area Agency on Aging provides a number of services. Please contact them to determine which services are best suited for your family’s needs. Toll Free: 1-800-365-6131 Website: The Administration on Aging (a principal agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) provides resources and information on elder care through their website and toll free number. Toll Free: 1-800-677-1116 Website: Amigos Y Familia Adult Day Care, Inc. Address: 1414 Hill Drive, Mission, TX 78572 Phone: (956) 424-0060

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Diabetes Under Pressure By Jose De Leon III Nearly 30 million people around the country are struggling to live with it and one-third of them aren’t even aware they have it. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1.4 million people are diagnosed with diabetes every year, a condition in which the body does not properly process food for use as energy. Because of this disease, a sugar buildup occurs in the body as it cannot create the necessary amount of insulin to absorb the sugar into its cells for energy. Diabetes can cause serious health complications, including heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, and, if necessary, amputation and limb removal, according to the CDC. If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, you’ve probably already started counting carbs and exercising more just to keep your blood sugar stable.



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However, even with exercising and dieting, you may be neglecting another, often silent problem that can go hand-in-hand with diabetes: high blood pressure. Also known as hypertension, the condition occurs in as many as two-thirds of people with diabetes. According to the Cleveland Clinic website, hypertension occurs when the pressure in your arteries that distribute blood throughout your body is higher than normal. In most cases, no one knows what causes high blood pressure and most people who have it aren’t aware they do unless they get a diagnosis from a doctor. If you have been diagnosed with both conditions, your risk of blood vessel damage increases as the heart has to work harder to pump blood into your body, heightening the likelihood of multiple complications, such as heart attack, stroke, or kidney failure. If both conditions are unmanaged, the risk is even greater. Nearly one in three American adults has high blood pressure and two in three people with diabetes report having high blood pressure or take prescription medications to lower their blood pressure, according to the CDC. If you believe you are at risk for either of these complications, the first thing you should do is get tested by your local doctor. Should you be diagnosed with either, your doctor will warn you about any unhealthy behaviors to avoid. These behaviors include smoking tobacco, as smoking causes blood vessels to constrict, raising blood pressure and releasing hormones that work against insulin. Also, consuming large amounts of alcohol often increases blood pressure. The CDC recommends drinking one drink daily, roughly 12 ounces of beer if you suffer from hypertension. To lower your high blood pressure and maintain a healthy lifestyle, the CDC recommends you skip processed foods and increase your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats. Regularly taking your medication for diabetes and high blood pressure will also help, as they help relax blood vessels. Exercising for at least 150 minutes per week to boost your cardiovascular health and help maintain your weight. Remember to consult with your doctor to get yourself tested for diabetes and to get your blood pressure checked. It could save your life.



Diplomat of The McKenzie Institute USA/ International


Board Certified Clinical Specialist in Orthopedic Physical Therapy


Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists


Over 29 years of clinical experience in orthopedic physical therapy


Former UTPA Bronc Track / Cross Country Team member (class of 1988)


Faculty facilitator / advisor for The McKenzie Institute USA


PHONE : [ 956 ] 661 - 1964




By Karen Villarreal Photos by Gabriel Elizondo Professional-grade audio recording is now accessible to alternative artists in the Rio Grande Valley through the Sound of Rain Recording Studio in Edinburg



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One of Vela’s favorite aspects of the recording studio is the main console - the same one he first learned on. “This console was at the studio that I worked at when I was in high school. It got bought and sold a few times and I’d run into this board a couple of other times over the years in different places and that it landed here when I showed up was totally meant to be,” says Vela. “I recognized it right away, like, ‘I know that board; that’s the Angela! My hand did that!’”

harlie Vela’s recent documentary and his audio production work in the Sound of Rain recording studio go hand-in-hand; the two medias epitomize the “rasquache way” that music was made and shared in our community, a history that has gotten into the local psyche and still affects many artists’ approach today. When local artists want to start a project, they look around and do it with what is available. It was this selftaught and independently financed approach that Vela and his partners took with the Sound of Rain recording studio, a project that elevates local artists by providing them with a space to play, access to professional musical equipment and recording tools, and importantly, feedback. As technology and interest have allowed for the documenting of more local performances, Vela is excited to open the door for future audiophiles, and shares the joys and difficulties of turning his passion into his day job. History of the Sound “Nobody’s coming on tour to the Valley to entertain you, so you have to make a band to entertain yourself,” said Vela of the environment that created him. “Nobody’s going to record your music because they don't take you seriously, so you have to learn to do it. It’s how you approach any creative endeavor — just do it. You have everything you need. There’s YouTube now to learn how to do stuff; there’s no excuse if you’re willing to put in some time.” Since the age of 12, when his parents gave him his first tape deck, Vela has fostered an interest in recording that grew until he became that producer he needed years ago, the one who takes all types of music seriously. After learning the ropes in Master Productions Studio in Weslaco, (a coincidental connection, as his father shared a worksuite with the studio) and experimenting with his own bands as a teen, followed by more experience in a Pharr studio with Roy Trevino, Vela worked from a home studio for a few years with his growing collection of equipment until his girlfriend (now wife) moved in. “That’s when I kind of wanted a living room to look like a living room so I started looking for another place to work, and that’s about the time I met Roland, my partner here.” Creating the Space Roland Trevino is the keyboardist, vocalist, and leader of Tejano band Llueve, which has toured and produced chart-topping records, but it all started, as is the case for many bands, with practices at his house. “We used to play outdoors, with the South Texas heat,” Trevino said.

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“I saved a little money and turned this warehouse into a practice space, because we were also too noisy at home for the neighbors.” Out in the industrial zone of Edinburg, there are no noise limits and bands can be as loud as they want. When Trevino added sound-proofing and an additional space for producing, the studio was complete and ready for Trevino to work out of, putting to use his degree in audio engineering from Full Sail University. That’s what he was doing when in 2011 he met Vela, and they developed an instant friendship based on their remarkably similar interests. “I asked if he wanted to bring his home studio over here,” said Trevino, and the partnership was formed as simply as that. Now Trevino mainly deals with the studio’s big business decisions like expansions, and leaves a lot of the session work to the interns and Vela. “They keep it pretty busy, which is what a business wants at the end of the day,” Trevino said. “I have the restaurant and I just had a baby girl recently, too, so it’s good having somebody like Charlie I can trust.” For alternative musicians of the RGV, “good” is an understatement. Vela’s passion and equipment keep the door to the space open. In Service of Sound Sound of Rain offers 14 guitars and 18 guitar amps, plus other goodies for musicians to experiment with and get to work. Though most people bring in their own gear, Vela encourages them to experiment with anything that catches their eye — equipment they’ve sometimes never seen in person before. “This should feel like a toy chest to inspire 72


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people. That’s why we have stuff coming out of our ears — trying to find places to store things has been the biggest challenge.” Providing new experiences through access to equipment is a philosophy Vela shares with producers and engineers whom he admires. Vela explains that producers have varying degrees of involvement in the creative process, with some producers like himself adjusting their approach depending on the artist they’re working with. “I’m trying to be in service of the band at all times,” Vela said. He asks the band members if they want input or if they already have a clear vision, and offers suggestions when requested but doesn’t push ideas on them to satisfy his ego. “This is a creative space and we’re all just kind of putting things out there, and some of them are going to stick and some are not.” Providing feedback, equipment, and a soundsensitive space isn’t all that Sound of Rain offers. Vela says that another big part of the job aside from the technical producing and engineering is a bit of coaching, gauging of interpersonal dynamics, and group psychology to bring the best out of everyone and maintain a calm atmosphere that’s most conducive to creative productivity. “Especially if you’re working with a band — because they have so much internal baggage and conflict they walk in with — you have to assess real quick who are the people you have to keep happy, things like that.”

Work/Life Balance Keeping people happy can be all-consuming for people who are working with their passion, or as Vela says, skirting the line between occupation and vocation. “It's really easy to lose yourself in the work. It’s wonderful to find something you’re that into and able to do to support yourself with; plenty of people don't ever get to do that, but it has its own set of challenges, too.” Constantly staying in work mode can be detrimental to relationships where partners don’t understand or accept the financial and emotional investment (not to mention sheer time) the other party is putting into their work. Vela says he’s been lucky to have met his wife who accepts the way he is, but he does his part to reduce the stress, especially since the birth of his first daughter. “It’s cliche, but it puts things in perspective,” Vela says. “I’ve been very deliberately trying to build my work life so that I have no choice but to have boundaries in my life because she’s going to grow up and not want to hang out with me. When I had the studio at home it was very difficult; work is always right there. Even just being a few blocks away is very helpful.” Tomorrow’s Forecast Attempting to have personal time in his life doesn’t mean Vela is some reclusive figure hiding away in the studio. He says it’s important to be encouraging with people who have questions and an independent interest in recording music, and he helps as much as he can. The studio also

has interns who work and learn there the way he did when he was younger. “I’m not going to be here forever, so I would rather a younger kid feel like this is a resource. When a kid is motivated on their own — it’s like you're compelled to do it against better judgement; it sometimes feels like something you’re wrestling with — I can totally identify it in people because I’ve been there,” says Vela. “Helping those people who are exceptionally motivated is super gratifying.” Helping individual producers-in-the-making isn’t the end of the Sound of Rain education. Trevino says he hopes to turn the studio into a school in the future. “We’d like to have keep the main studio going, but team up with vocational schools here in South Texas and get involved at the high school level, where we can make the most impact, and see if we can offer some college credit,” he says. “We have a lot of aspects that we’re involved in, like online marketing and how incorporating that into sound engineering can benefit you in the workplace. Commercial work like being able to make your own radio ads and TV ads — and knowing that they’re going to sound good — there is a lot of money out there and a lot of people in the Valley outsource that.” From the days when it was difficult for a band to get recorded to today, the landscape of record-making has changed in a positive direction — anyone with a smartphone can document a sound, but some can turn a passion for sound into a career. “There are many more individuals recording and focused on their community,” Vela says. “I think that’s excellent. It's more than I could ever have hoped for back then.” M AY / J U N E 2 0 1 7






The Livestock Show epitomizes our South Texan love of agriculture and fanfare. The annual 12-day festival has animal displays of all types, funnel cakes, rodeos, live entertainment, carnival rides, and a sea of cowboy hats. It’s also a celebration of the arts, with students competing in contests of painting, photography, and more. World-renowned judges lend their expertise to local 4H and FFA students who have worked hard all year to raise a strong, healthy, and attractive animal. The heartbreaking exchange between a teen and their pig, goat, chicken, rabbit, or steer is just another part of life in the RGV.

By Jose Antonio PeĂąa Photos courtesy of Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show 74


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These longhorns were part of the junior show. They are in a pen waiting to go into the judging area where they will be walked by their owners or the student participants in front of a judge and the cheering crowd.

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The RGV Livestock Show Pet Show is a real crowd pleaser. The Pet Show is an annual free event for children ages 2 to 12 to show off their favorite pets, whether that’s a live animal or a favorite cuddly stuffed toy. Children up to 4 years old can enter their cute, visibly loved, and unique stuffed animals into the pet show, and everybody is a winner.



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Joshua Munoz from Santa Rosa shows off his horticulture project to a judge, a large plant in the Class 10 - Edible Plants category that won Reserve Grand Champion.

The Livestock Show not only showcases the various factors that can be bred into a herd, such as vigor, heat tolerance, and even insect resistance, but also the knowledge and showmanship of the animal’s handler, which will be judged independently of the animal’s quality. In this picture, the show person makes an effort to make eye contact with the judge when parading her Simbrah, a display of showmanship skills, in an attempt to show the animal off. When asked by the judge, the show person should be able to give information about their animal, such as age, breed, nutrition, and more. For example, the Simbrah shown here has been described as "The All Purpose American Breed," according to the American Simmental Association, with positive attributes of both the Simmental and Brahman that produce a lean, high-quality beef product. M AY / J U N E 2 0 1 7




FOOD RGV World Tour By David Alvarado Photos by David Alvarado

GERMAN FOOD - Schneider's German Gasthaus & Beergarden, McAllen


ere in the Rio Grande Valley, we’ve been lucky enough to have a bunch of very talented, interesting, influential people come to South Texas and get a slice of how we live and to contribute to the dining aspect of our culture. This guide of international restaurants in the region features perennial favorites that demonstrate enduring quality, diversity, and excitement surrounding the new and unknown tastes of our beautiful melting pot of cultures. This guide is by no means exhaustive and serves to list my favorite places in no particular order:



German cuisine is maybe not the most famous in the world, but at Schneider's you will find traditional German dishes such as the quintessential schnitzel. The classic dish is meat, usually thinned by pounding with a meat tenderizer and is fried in some kind of oil or fat. The term is most commonly used to refer to meats coated with flour, beaten eggs, and bread crumbs, and then fried. It is then served with a heaping ladle of mushroom gravy and a side of roasted potatoes. The main dining room features long tables and chairs but the true experience and atmosphere lies in its cozy and ideal outdoor seating space. The outdoor dining area is complete with German flags and decor, German music, and a stoney fire pit. It's a great place to get a tall hefeweizen (German wheat beer), a soft pretzel, or a cup of coffee.

VIETNAMESE FOOD Basil Asia Chinese & Vietnamese Cuisine, Weslaco

Pho is the go-to Vietnamese dish for many people, but I prefer the bold and pungent flavors of bún bò Huế from this spot located at the southern end of Texas Street in Weslaco. Bún bò Huế is a vermicelli soup dish featuring four kinds of beef: brisket, tripe, steak and meatballs. It is incredibly savory and has the familiar basil-cilantro taste to it. You can get pho in a lot of places in the Valley, but a really good bún bò Huế is hard to find. The establishment features family-friendly booth seatings, an outdoor seating area, and a bar offering Vietnamese beer and other Southeast Asian spirits.

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KOREAN FOOD - Seoul House, McAllen

At Seoul House, get ready to feel at home. The establishment more closely resembles a house than restaurant. The “Bibimbop” is a classic Korean dish and safe bet if you’ve never tried this place. The word “Bibimbop” literally means "mixed rice" and is served as a bowl of warm white rice topped with namul (sautéed and seasoned vegetables) and gochujang (chili pepper paste), soy sauce, doenjang (a fermented soybean paste), raw or fried egg, and beef. So pick a seat and watch some Korean drama on the TV while you eat. Seoul House is honestly one of the best, authentic international restaurants in the Valley and I never leave unsatisfied.

UPCOMING EVENTS THURSDAY MAY 4 + Franco De Vita FRIDAY MAY 12 + Esteban Arce SUNDAY MAY 14 + La Oreja de Van Gogh


FILIPINO FOOD - Kusina, McAllen

If you’ve eaten at Kusina, you might have crunched into fried lumpia rolls or marveled at the deep flavor of tangy, garlicky chicken adobo. “Kusina” is the Filipino word for kitchen, similar to the Spanish word “cocina.” The food is a huge melting pot of influences from the Pacific Rim, Malaysia, China, South America, and Spain. The restaurant serves the food cafeteria-style and in to-go plates. Kusina also features a grocery store located in a building next door. The food is flavorful, cheap, and the portions are huge. The fact that the food isn't labeled made me unsure of what I was eating but thankfully they allow you to sample the food.

SATURDAY MAY 20 + La Doble Moral El Musical

Lebanese Bistro is simply a great place for middle eastern food and a good spot for vegans. This restaurant features authentic, fresh-made foods like falafel (spiced mashed chickpeas formed into balls or fritters and deep-fried), kebbeh (bulgur, minced onions, and finely ground lean beef, lamb, goat, or camel meat with Middle Eastern spices) and kafta (Lebanese beef kebabs). As in any Middle Eastern restaurant, there is a familiar lineup of hummus and mixed grilled meats, but I encourage you to try the classic Lebanese dessert known as baklava, which is a rich, sweet pastry made of layers of filo filled with chopped pistachios and sweetened and held together with syrup or honey. Lebanese cooking is an interwoven mix of cuisines from cultures situated around the Mediterranean Sea.

SATURDAY MAY 20 + La Doble Moral El Musical (Evening) SUNDAY MAY 21 + Air Supply TUESDAY JUN 6-7 + Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone w/live Symphony Orchestra

Want access to tickets before they go on sale? The McAllen Performing Arts Center offers a Membership Program with levels to suit your needs, for information please call 956.681.3800 or email Interested in becoming an Ambassador of the Arts? Ambassadors of the Arts serve as volunteer ushers, ticket takers, and guest services personnel while helping to promote the arts within the McAllen Performing Arts Center. For more information and registration, please visit

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NEVER STOP READING Kate Horan, Director of McAllen Public Libraries, Invites Public to Engage in Lifelong Learning By Lori Houston Photo by Johnny Quiroz

“I always say that the public library is the last bastion

of democracy,” said Kate Horan, who has served as director of the McAllen Public Library for the past four years. Since its opening in 2011, the library has received accolades for its stunning transformation from box store to one of the largest public libraries in the country. Now, Horan herself is to be featured in a prominent international publication among 28 of the world’s best librarians for her work in transforming the way the library serves its community.



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To say she is a champion of libraries is an understatement; she has spent nearly her entire adult life working in libraries. A life of service to the public is what attracted her to library work. “I’ve done just about everything in the library, starting with shelving books as a teenager when I was in school,” she said. Her passions are sharing the tool of reading and access to learning, making the McAllen Public Library the perfect platform for Horan. Besides books and music, it provides community services such as reading programs, internet access, ESL, and GED

classes — and it’s open to everyone, not just McAllen residents. “We open our doors to anyone and everyone to come in and use our facility, even if they don’t have a library card,” said Horan, who makes a point of encouraging everyone to make use of the library’s services. “Anyone can come in and browse through our stacks, look through our books, read our magazines, but we do try to make it as easy as possible for people to get and maintain a library card.”

Visit Your Digital Library She even has an answer for people that don’t want a library card because they may be afraid of being late returning an item, or even losing it: The e-card allows patrons to borrow digital items that don’t have to be physically returned. “You can download an ebook or an e-audiobook,” Horan said. “You can borrow it for the two weeks' time and then it just disappears from your device so you never have to pay fines.” With the McAllen Public Library digital app, patrons can find nearly all of the library’s services in the digital arena. From the app, one can find and request books, reserve study rooms, access databases for research, and view the event schedule for all the branches. The e-media download area of the app also allows patrons to access services like Mango Languages, ComicsPlus, and Freegal music downloads. The e-branch of the McAllen Public Library gives the community access to a multitude of learning resources including homework help, GED prep, language learning, computer skills, and test prep through Learning Express.

Library Classics The reading programs that have been a staple of libraries everywhere can still be found at the McAllen Public library. “Those traditional services (like summer reading programs) are important. We know that there's something called the ‘summer slide.’” Horan explains that an entire summer without actively engaging

in learning causes certain skills to deteriorate. The McAllen Public Library is committed to offering opportunities for students to stay engaged in learning with STEM and STEAM activities as well as reading programs. “The nice thing about the library (as opposed to school) is that we don’t test them; they would just read whatever they want.” Horan believes that reading opens up all sorts of doors for people, whether it’s just reading something imaginative, or reading about another culture. According to Horan, reading is very empowering, whether you are are reading for information or reading fictional stories. “You will be enriched either way,” she said. With information, you can build a deck or fix your plumbing, while fiction can take you to places you have never seen and help you meet people who live there without having to really travel. “We get outside of ourselves, our limited existence, when we read about people from different countries or different religions,” Horan said. Reading promotes tolerance and respect for other people and other cultures and traditions.

Reading is Fundamental Reading really starts a lot earlier than people think. The McAllen Public Library has a Family Place Area that has been specially designed to help build children’s early literacy skills. “When they're stacking those blocks, or they're putting the rings over the cone, or they're playing with dolls or playing with the stove and kitchen set, those are all pre-reading skills,” Horan said. Horan recognizes that good health, early learning, parental involvement, and supportive communities play a critical role in young children’s growth and development. “I see the public library as the bridge between birth and school,” she said. “We fill that gap. So if you can get your child into the library and get them playing — do it. Get them familiar with the library, so then they can take ownership of the library.”

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“Anyone can come in and browse through our stacks, look through our books, read our magazines, but we do try to make it as easy as possible for people to get and maintain a library card.” - Kate Horan

Libraries are truly community centers, with something for everyone. McAllen Public Library’s positive impact on people’s lives extends beyond what one expects from a library — it also offers new services that people require from time to time. “Right now we have a partnership with AARP, where they are offering to do free tax returns for people, which is a fantastic service for our citizens,” Horan said. The library has also assisted visitors with the Affordable Care Act registration process and, according to Horan, will likely find a way to assist with whatever plan may follow in the future. Communities are the creators of their public libraries, just like they create their other public spaces based on the needs and desires of their unique populace. Horan strives to offer public library services that focus on building community face-to-face, inspires and educates patrons about art, literature, and music, and whatever else they have a passion for. The abundance of resources at the McAllen Public Library enables the community to continue to grow and enhance their lives. “This is a place for lifelong learning,” Horan said. “There is something here for everyone.”




The Future

SOLDIER By David Alvarado Photos by David Alvarado


“As a soldier working in an Army job, you will have many opportunities to earn professional and trade certifications.” - Barry Kowald, Army Educational Services Specialist



here are very few topics talked about today that have remained more relevant, both in ancient and modern times, than the topic of leadership. In the U.S. Army, the elements of effective leadership are infused in much of their training, doctrine, tactics, and expectations. All of these elements, in addition to valuable job training and experience one receives during their time in uniform, makes finding a career after serving in the Army or Army Reserve substantially easier. Whether you’re a high school graduate ready to take the next step or someone searching for a better opportunity for themselves or their family, the U.S. Army supports your decision. “I started thinking about the Army when I was a kid but I made my decision as a sophomore in high school,” said 18-year-old Christian Guerra. Guerra is a native of Laredo and has since enlisted as a combat medic specialist, with the hopes of attending nursing school while serving in the Army Reserve. After high school, Guerra will start three months of basic training before he begins a six-month training program as a combat medic at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. “I can go home and start my education right then and there, or I can get a job if I wanted to,” Guerra said. “I’ve M AY / J U N E 2 0 1 7

been waiting for three years to do this — I’m just waiting to graduate so I can finally do what I’ve been wanting to do for a long time now.” The myriad of careers and educational programs available in the Army and the Reserve will offer guidance and motivation to help you succeed in whatever path you choose, explains Army Educational Services Specialist Barry Kowald. “As a soldier working in an Army job, you will have many opportunities to earn professional and trade certifications,” said Kowald, who specializes in promoting Army educational resources and career tools (March2Success; https://www. and ASVAB-CEP; to school administrators and educators. “These certifications will give you specialized skills which help you excel in a civilian career and can even count as college credit hours.” As a future soldier looking to serve in the Army or Army Reserve, you have hundreds of careers to choose from. To make the best decision, the Army offers the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), which is a test that is designed to highlight strengths and interests, then map out your options in the Army. The ASVAB Career Exploration Program version (ASVAB-CEP) is a free

career tool from the Army and accessible at the website link www. It offers a more robust career exploration components for students from high schools, colleges and even professionals. Unlike traditional standardized testing, the ASVAB identifies areas where candidates display increased aptitude as opposed to their general knowledge and is used in determining Army career opportunities, and enlistment incentives such as cash bonuses, student loan repayment, and special assignments. Career planning is a lifelong process, and the decisions you make now are not the only ones you will make. The dedicated recruiters at the U.S. Army Recruiting Centers in South Texas are experts in guiding future soldiers who are looking to reach the first milestones of their goals. "Each soldier has a different motivation for wanting to join the Army," said Sergeant First Class Armando G. Flores, who joined the army to become a transportation specialist and now has four deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan on his sleeve. Flores explained that, initially, he was motivated to join the Army because of the money for college, but he developed a

“Every soldier in the Army is a leader and these traits stem from our commitment to a common core of Army values: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage.” - Captain Adeniran Dairo, U.S. Army's Recruiting Commander for the South Texas area

passion for serving his country. Seventeen years later, Flores is now an Army recruiter whose job it is to guide future soldiers on their path to success, whatever their motivations are. “Many young people think they must make a choice between going to college or joining the Army,” Flores said. “But there's opportunity to do both in the Army Reserve.” As a recruiter, Flores thinks it's important for young people and their parents to know the educational benefits of service, including valuable career training; tuition assistance while on active duty or in the Reserve; and financial assistance to pay back qualifying student loans. Beyond the benefits, the Army provides a chance to serve the nation and to develop the crucial leadership and motivational skills needed to complete and excel in college and future careers. “The leadership traits that you develop while in the Army have proven themselves, particularly for those who have accepted the responsibility to lead soldiers and to serve in something greater than themselves,” explains Captain Adeniran Dairo, the U.S. Army's Recruiting Commander for the South Texas area. Dairo enlisted in the Army as an x-ray technician or radiology specialist before earning his commission through the Army’s Officer Candidate School, a program that provides enlisted Soldiers who hold at least a four-year college degree the opportunity to complete a rigorous, 12-week school to earn a formal commission as U.S. Army Officer and assume the ability to command soldiers. “Every soldier in the Army is a leader and these traits stem from our commitment to a common core of Army values: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage.” Find a supplement to this article on our website, www. “What Drives These Six Future Soldiers,” published in April, gives an inside look at some of the motivations behind tomorrow’s leaders.

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CONVENTION CENTER: 10 Years of Beauty and Growth for our Area



his past March the McAllen Convention Center's 10th anniversary came and went without much fanfare. Folks there were just too busy to throw a party. But the complex's impact and what it offers the community is huge. Visitors to the Convention Center District see it as a mixture of large buildings, walkways, restaurants, and shopping opportunities, with a few hotels thrown in. But the beautiful 18.5-acre campus provides a huge focal point for the community and the area — for entertainment, business, education, and economic growth. The Convention Center, designed to be muftipurpose, features a 60,000-square-foot, column-free exhibit hall, a grand ballroom, two boardrooms, and up to 20 breakout rooms for meetings and smaller



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events. State and national conventions, concerts, board meetings, weddings, athletic competitions, and graduations are just some examples of what takes place there. Annual events such as PalmFest and the International CarFest always draw large crowds.

The surrounding campus incorporates other wonders. These include:

- The Oval Park with its reflecting pool, green space and fountain. - The Veterans War Memorial, a 5-acre site featuring a 105-foot black granite spire in its center. Funded from private donations, it was designed to be an educational memorial and an outdoor classroom. - The 1,828 seat Performing Arts Center, whose cycle of sequential lights colorfully outline the building

to visitors arriving for performances by local or nationally recognized musicians, dancers or Broadway theater companies. With over 450 events yearly, the Convention Center District averages over 400,000 attendees annually. So far this year, the Performing Arts Center has hosted over 70 events and more than 80,000 attendees. The economics of the Convention Center are definitely eye-popping. “The total economic impact of the McAllen Convention Center is on average $60 million per year,” said Yajarla Flores, McAllen Convention Facilities manager of Sales and Event Services. To break this down a bit, one group of 1,000 people staying two days brings in an estimated $340,000. This is generated through the “Hotel District” — which now features four on-site hotels (the Embassy Suites, La Quinta Inn and Suites, Homewood Suites, and the newly opened Home2Suites by Hilton) — the restaurants that abound throughout, and the Shopping District which, when complete, will boast over 600,000 square feet of retail and tempting dining venues throughout. The Convention Center's catch-phrase says it well: “Creating experiences and enhancing the quality of life in the Rio Grande Valley.” “It's not just an event place,” said Laurie Pulido, the Convention Center's Marketing and Special Events supervisor. “We want people to take a look at the big picture.” Eateries and quality retailers have sprung up in the surrounding area. And, said Pulido, the hotels now in place were the missing piece. “We want to help people realize how great an area this is for the community. It's a great place to bring the kids and walk around,” she said. The Convention Center complex is attracting folks from all over, not just the locals. “We're attracting people from out of town,” Pulido said. “And the hotels they sleep in, the restaurants where they eat, the shopping they do while they're here — it all (has) an impact on our economy.” “The concerts, the performances, the events that

“I want to thank the community for these 10 years of support. Without local support, things (wouldn't be) the same.” - LAURIE PULIDO

draw people regionally. The expos and trade shows that draw vendors from out of town and the attendees. The benefits of that includes the extra revenue that comes

through,” Pulido added. “It is such a huge part of the business model of McAllen. It's all very exciting!” Pulido has a message for Convention Center visitors. “I want to thank the community for these 10 years of support,” she said. “Without local support, things (wouldn't be) the same.” Pulido encourages friends and families to get actively involved with events. There are some volunteer opportunities to participate in such as the year round volunteer “Ambassador of the Arts” program. You can find out more about this online at www.mcallenpac. net. Most of all, though, Pulido and the rest of the folks at the Convention Center look forward to and appreciate the public's continued support for the coming years. Economically and entertainment-wise, the community and the region will win big time.

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By Amy Casebier


hen you’re given a task as important as saving the world, it’s natural to get a little intimidated. While big concepts like climate change can overwhelm you, recycling is a different story. “It’s very easy, starting at home, to get a box to start with one item, maybe, one or two items, and just put them in the box and bring them on down to the recycling center,” said John Avilez, recycling coordinator for Harlingen. The Harlingen center processes 2 million pounds of recyclables per year, Avilez said. Starting small and starting simple is key when embarking on a journey of making your life a bit greener, especially with Earth Day on April 22. This year’s campaign encompasses environmental and climate literacy, according to the website for the holiday. While doing something to impact



climate change might seem like a tall order, committing to a recycling program for your household is something more immediate that will have a lasting effect in the Rio Grande Valley and beyond. “It’s doing good for the environment,” said Roberto Treviño Jr., renewable resources manager at the McAllen Recycling Center. “It’s keeping less things going into the landfill.” McAllen’s center processes 10 million pounds of recyclables per year, Treviño said. A number of cities across the Valley have either dedicated recycling centers or drop-off sites for collecting recyclable material. Many of them receive funding for enhancing these projects through the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council. The council also works to educate the entire community about recycling and

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good environmental practices through its website and outreach programs. “Our environment is the future of all of our kids, and that’s why we gear our outreach and education toward the schools,” said Marcie Oviedo, director of regional planning for the LRGVDC. “Especially the little ones. They’re so eager to recycle. They’re the ones that push the parents into recycling.” Many of the cities across the Valley have recycling centers or drop-off points, and the vast majority of them accept recyclables no matter what city you’re from. Each center accepts different materials — and some materials, like Christmas trees and phone books, are taken only at specific times of the year — so it’s best to call or check the website of the center nearest you before you go. For most centers, expect to be able to recycle newspaper, office paper, cardboard, plastic bottles and bags, books and magazines, and aluminum and tin cans. Some centers offer recycling for used motor oil, batteries, ink cartridges, glass, and e-waste — old cellphones, computers, and other electronics. “A lot of people are afraid of identity theft, so if they bring in their computers, the company we work with actually destroys the hard drive, so you won’t have to worry about it getting sold at the flea market the next weekend,” Treviño said of the McAllen center’s program to accept e-waste. Having a greener mindset can also take the concept of recycling to other levels of practice. “(It’s) not only the items that we take in at the recycling center,” Treviño said. “It can be planting a tree, or composting. It’s another form of recycling.” McAllen composts brush from residents and city greenways and re-sells it. It keeps the bulky clippings out of the landfill while repurposing the unwanted greenery into something more valuable. “Someone else’s trash is someone else’s treasure,” Treviño added. That’s another concept essential to living greener — the “reuse” portion of reduce, reuse, and recycle. “The most effective way to reduce waste is to not create it in the first place,”

reads the website for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Buy more clothing at secondhand shops, for example. It’s usually cheaper and of the same quality as purchasing new. Look into different ways you can donate items you no longer need. You can drop off everything from clothing to furniture and decor to organizations like The Salvation Army and Goodwill — and get a tax write-off for doing it. The EPA also suggests borrowing or renting items that might not be used very often, such as tools or party decorations. And if it’s just not possible to get your materials to a recycling center here in the Valley, there are a number of retailers that offer recycling programs. You can turn in old cellphones at Best Buy and Target, for example, and plastic bags at Walmart and H-E-B, giving people even more opportunities to start recycling. “The interest and the commitment is there, we just need to make more people aware of the situation and do it,” Oviedo said. Learn more about recycling in the Rio Grande Valley at solid-waste/FinalRecyclingGuide01-16-2017.pdf.



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