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N OVE M B E R / DE C E M B E R 2 0 17 | VO LUM E 9 ISSUE 6

Hurricane Harvey reminds us of what it means to be Texas Proud.


Preventing bullying in the RGV.

WHAT’S IN YOUR CART? Buy local this holiday season.


A dietician’s guide to navigating healthy eating during the holiday season.

© 2010 Southwest Airlines Co.

WHEN WE SERVE TOGETHER IN OUR COMMUNITIES, EVERYONE SOARS. Southwest Airlines® proudly partners with those who are helping to shape our communities all across America. One good deed—when coupled with another and another and another—can truly make a positive difference in our daily lives.



Mario Del Pino, MD, FACS

Education & Training

For more information

- Foregut MIS training at the

Heartburn & Antireflux Center

University of Pittsburgh

110 E Savannah Ave Bldg A 202

- Proctor, Da Vinci Robotic

McAllen TX, 78503

Surgery platform - Director, Bariatric Surgery

GERD Treatment Consultation

Rio Grande Regional Hospital


Dr Del Pino is the first in the Rio Grande Valley to offer the LINX reflux management system, an innovative device designed to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), acid reflux, heartburn and bloating. Antacids and other medication may reduce GERD symptoms, however studies suggest long term use of GERD medication may be risky. Beyond the risk of long-term proton pump inhibitor (PPI) use, about 40 percent of GERD sufferers continue to have heartburn and regurgitation while taking medication for GERD, according to a study by the American Gastroenterological Institute. GERD is a chronic, often progressive disease that can lead to a pre-cancerous condition known as Barrett’s esophagus. Studies have shown that esophageal adenocarcinoma is the fastest growing cancer in the US.


The new LINX device Dr Del Pino offers works to stop reflux at its source. Using laparoscopic techniques, Dr Del Pino will position the LINX around the esophagus just above the stomach. The quarter-sized flexible band of magnetic titanium beads strengthens the body’s natural barrier against acid reflux. The magnets open to allow food and liquid down, then close to prevent stomach contents from moving up, stopping acid reflux at its source. The surgery is performed under general anesthesia and takes about 30 minutes. The LINX system begins working immediately, and patients generally go home the same day or next.

KEY FEATURES OF LINX SURGERY FOR GERD • Precise procedure restores reflux barrier • Preserves the ability to belch and vomit • Reduces or eliminates dependence of medication • Reduces gas and bloating • Removable • Does not limit future treatment options • Endoscopy • 24pH Study, Bravo Test • Esophageal Mannometry • Robot Nissen, Toupet

WHO IS A CANDIDATE FOR THE LINX PROCEDURE? • GERD patients who are not adequately treated with medications • GERD patients who are concerned about long-term use of PPIs

Fundoplication • Robot Hiatal Hernia Repair • LINX Procedure



Merry &



LIGHTING & HOME DÉCOR (95 6 ) 6 82 - 6 9 86 | 48 01 N. 1 0t h S t . M cA l l e n & 2 1 5 5 R u be n M. To rre s Bl v d Brow ns v i l l e | w w w .i l l u mi nat i o ns rgv.c om

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Office: 956-627-5047 Fax: 956-627-4956

Located in Mercedes, RGV Premium Outlets, McAllen, Palms Crossing, and La Plaza Mall

Rocky-Mountain Chocolate-Factory










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

Marifer Quevedo Claudia V. Lemus-C. South Texas College Susie Martinez Bill Martinez ERO Architects Dr. Alfonso Mercado Melissa Guerra

Kevin Martinez Norma Hess David Alvarado James Hord Dominique Zmuda







Purpose before profits. Proverbs 20:5 The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out. Understanding the positive impact we all have on the lives of others is a vital component to improving our quality of life. In this issue, you will find this to be true of a few leading organizations in the Rio Grande Valley. As Bert Ogden and H.E.B. gathered their resources to meet the needs of the Hurricane Harvey victims, you will find what fuels and feeds loyalty to their organizations and brands in our cover story this issue. To focus on purpose before profits may be unorthodox to many when building a business. But this business philosophy is fundamental to what great organizations are founded upon, yielding high returns. It is our privilege to share with you the profile stories in this issue that share this philosophy, along with a few secrets in their success. Our hope is that you continue to be inspired, educated, and informed of the growth in the Rio Grande Valley. Thank you for picking up this issue!

Amy Casebier Abbey Kunkle Lori Houston Teclo J. Garcia Elizabeth C. Martinez Sofia Aleman Irene Wazgowska David Alvarado Debra Atlas

For editorial comments and suggestions, please send e-mails to For advertising information, please call us at 956.379.6017 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. P RI N T ED I N MEXI CO











Hurricane Harvey reminds us of what it means to be Texas proud. Local people, organizations and businesses, like Bert Ogden, H-E-B, and the American Red Cross of South Texas, came together to provide donations and relief to those affected by the hurricane's destruction.


Preventing bullying in the RGV.

4 6 WHAT ’ S IN YOU R C A RT ? Buy local this holiday season.





HEA LT HY HOLIDAY S A dietician’s guide to navigating healthy eating during the holiday season.



A Helping Hand

Manufacturing Jobs

Holiday Stress

Young Lives

pg 8

pg 32

pg 52

pg 66

A Learning Home

Withstanding the Elements

Turkey Torta Recipe

Lucha Libre in the RGV

pg 10

pg 34

pg 54

pg 68

Networking the Future

How Sweet It Is

VBACs in the Valley

Pulga Culture

pg 16

pg 36

pg 56

pg 72

Edinburg Boys & Girls Club

Mission Accomplished

Stepping Foward

Q&A with Valley Artists

pg 18

pg 38

pg 58

pg 82

RGV Lead

Solar Energy

RGV Golf Guide

pg 22

pg 40

pg 88

School Redesign Grant

Santa Fe Wine Classic

Boots and Blossoms

pg 24

pg 44

pg 90

Laying a Strong Foundation

Arri Fitness

pg 28

pg 48




HCISD and Habitat for Humanity Spring Into Action to Help Hurricane Relief Efforts



NOV/DEC 2017

by Marifer Quevedo

Hurricane Harvey slammed the Texas coast Aug. 25 with unforgiving winds reaching 130 miles per hour, causing widespread destruction and catastrophic floods. As the footage of thousands of distraught people emerged across news and social media platforms, citizens of Harlingen and members of the Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District all had one burning question: How can we help? “I could not sit idly and just watch it unfold on television,” said Robert Rodriguez, a social studies teacher at Vela Middle School. The looks of desperation on people’s faces as they were being rescued from their flooded homes drove him to participate in relief efforts. He followed the district’s lead to support Habitat for Humanity and coordinated a monetary donation collection among the sixth-grade students. They reached a goal of $500 in one week. Rodriguez described the pride on his students’ faces knowing their contributions would go to a great cause. “Some kids gave up their allowances to assist,” he said. “Students learned about compassion toward each other. At some point, we all need help, and you hope that someone will be there to help when you need it.” HCISD and Habitat for Humanity of the Rio Grande Valley joined forces after a public service message from the nonprofit organization’s executive director, Wayne Lowry, received an overwhelming response on social media. The organization, which primarily concentrates on long-term rebuilding efforts and homeowner repairs, had developed a hurricane response plan anticipating a direct local impact, and after the storm made landfall, offered to send relief to those in distress. In collaboration with additional donors throughout the Valley, HCISD and Habitat for Humanity filled and sent 130 pallets of emergency relief supplies in a 53-foot semi trailer, two 26-foot trailers, and a 20-foot box truck to Aransas Pass,

in addition to two 53-foot semi trailers and a smaller load to Victoria. The partnership allowed HCISD to have the logistic means to render aid. Sister affiliates of Habitat for Humanity in those affected areas directly distributed the food, water, hygiene products, and supplies to those in dire need of assistance. Lowry recounts the scene as they approached a mass of people in desperate need, overwhelmed with appreciation. “They formed a giant chain and helped unload the truck to distribute the water to everyone,” he said. “Even when the people of Texas are hurt, they bend but don’t break. It was powerful to see the resilience. They weren’t just there to get the water and leave, but they wanted to make sure everyone in need got water.” The strong call to render aid resonated throughout the district. “It’s situations like these that show the spirit of our community coming together for our neighbors during a time when they need it the most,” said Dr. Art Cavazos, Harlingen CISD superintendent. “We are grateful for this partnership with Habitat for Humanity and fortunate to have students, parents, staff, and citizens who care so deeply about their fellow Texans.” Dan Araiza, a principal at Secondary Alternative Center, took the important role of coordinating all district donation deliveries and transferring them to the Habitat drop-off site. “Service to humanity is important for our youth,” Araiza said. “The district leadership and administrative teams are always indicating education goes beyond the four walls of the classroom.” As soon as word spread of the partnership with Habitat, Araiza felt it was his duty to step up and assist. He organized staff and students to aid in the collection of donations at multiple elementary, middle, and high




Knight says the displaced students are the driving force behind her call to action during this time of turmoil. “The little ones don’t understand the drastic, life-changing effects of storms,” she said. “When people get evacuated, sometimes families get separated, and children are absorbed into the foster care system. We have to welcome them with open hearts for as long as necessary.” The humanitarian mentality spread quickly across HCISD. Knight’s colleague, third-grade teacher Chad Bender, responded to his church’s call to deploy as a feeding-trained volunteer. Bender was among a handful of individuals previously trained to set up remote, fully equipped outdoor kitchens capable of providing up to 10,000 hot meals a day. Bender and his team spent two days setting up in northern Corpus Christi and four days cooking an estimated 25,000 meals for survivors in the neighboring Rockport and Aransas. Bender emailed his assistant principal to ask for permission for the deployment the Saturday after the storm’s arrival, who in turn forwarded it to Cavazos. Bender was astonished when he received an email from his superintendent on Sunday morning, authorizing his request to travel to the affected areas for a week. “His quick response tells you exactly where his heart is,” Bender said. “I am very grateful to work for a district that did not hesitate in allowing me to be part of the relief efforts. I could not have gone without their support, and that of my administration and colleagues.” Emergency relief efforts have transitioned into the long road to recovery, and numerous volunteers are still working diligently to provide comfort and support to those affected.


school campuses across the district. Students participated in the sorting, packaging, and proper assembly of pallets in the delivery trucks. The organizing of massive amounts of items proved to be a challenging task requiring brainstorming and teamwork, but students quickly learned how to assemble the pieces of the puzzle. Araiza was proud to see several of his students take the initiative to volunteer during the Labor Day holiday, including a recent Houston area transfer student who was compelled to lend a helping hand as he saw the devastation in his home city. “We have to reinforce to our students that they have a responsibility to serve their communities,” Araiza said. “They will forever remember sorting through supplies and loading up pallets.” Wendy Knight, a special education resource teacher and student council adviser at Treasure Hills Elementary, is no stranger to hurricane relief efforts and immediately jumped on board to send fliers and gather donations. Knight participated in significant recovery and rebuilding operations while living in Orlando when Florida was hit by hurricanes Charley, Frances, and Jeanne in 2004. She is proud of the district’s rapid response, knowing firsthand how valuable every second is in times of devastation. She was thrilled to learn about the district’s partnership with Habitat for Humanity, which stands by a firm statement of donor transparency, ensuring 100 percent of monetary and tangible donations are directly allocated where they are needed the most during recovery efforts. “I’ve been in a situation where we were without power for 14 days, and our local church organization delivered ice to all of us affected,” Knight said. “I imagine the feelings were the same when the people of Aransas Pass first saw the Habitat trucks rolling in.” The real time, disastrous phenomenon prompted valuable lessons and discussions among students throughout the week, where they pondered about what supplies they felt would be crucial for the thousands of displaced students.

NOV/DEC 2017



A Learning Home

Away from Home PSJA Pathways Toward Independence, LIFE House Help Special Needs Students Gain Life Skills and Vocational Training b y Cl a u d i a V. Le m u s - C a m p os

home. They spend time here every week, they help with the yard work, they cook here and even barbecue,” said Dr. Daniel P. King, PSJA superintendent. “It’s been so exciting to see our students take ownership of the house and to hear parents share how the program has impacted them.” From daily living skills to agriculture, carpentry, and even photography, students in the program are learning how to be independent and successful at the PSJA LIFE House. “I want to thank our superintendent and school board for believing in this innovative concept of teaching our students with special needs in a real-world setting,” said PSJA PTI Director Veronica Quintana. “The life skills they are gaining are a critical component to ensure that they are prepared and are lifelong learners.”



NOV/DEC 2017

The Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District (PSJA) has transformed a vacant house into a dream home where special needs students ages 14-21 are now learning invaluable life skills every day. As part of the district's Pathways Toward Independence Program, the Learning in Functional Environments (LIFE) House ensures special needs students receive vocational training and functional independent living skills to help them become contributing members of the community. To celebrate the creation of the new learning home, PSJA ISD held an official ribbon-cutting ceremony April 21 where students, parents, staff, administrators, and members of the community had the opportunity to tour the facility and meet the students. “Our students know this is their home away from



I want to thank our superintendent and school board for believing in this innovative concept of teaching our students with special needs in a real-world setting.”

education courses to receive certificates and also intern at local businesses.  Most recently, PSJA ISD held a graduation ceremony for the first two graduates from the program who completed South Texas College’s Continuing Education Courses in employability skills, basic cake decorating and basic photography. The graduates, Noah Veliz and Janie Gonzalez, were also surprised with full-time job offers from local businesses NAFT Federal Credit Union and Irma’s Sweet Shoppe.

Learn more about this and other PSJA programs at




Since the program launched in the fall of 2016, partnerships with local employers have been strengthened and have provided students a deeper preparation for gainful employment. Recently, students have been able to take these skills to local businesses including At Home, Best Buy, Dairy Queen, Goodwill, NAFT Federal Credit Union, Regency Hall, Peter Piper Pizza, Pharr Memorial Library, Vany's Flower Shop, On The Grill, Gold’s Gym, El Mana Cuisine, and Quinta Mazatlan. “At PSJA ISD, our focus is helping every student succeed in transitioning to the next level not only to finish high school but to succeed and complete college through post-secondary training for employment,” King said. “The Pathways Toward Independence program is about doing the same for our special needs students.” In addition to learning skills in the home, PTI students take required South Texas College continuing

NOV/DEC 2017

Vero nic a Qui nta na , P SJA P TI d i r ec tor



LUIS REYES, MD, FASMBS, FACS General Surgeon, Bariatric Surgeon board certified in Obesity Medicine Dr. Reyes is the general surgeon to bring the TIF procedure for heartburn to the Valley. Dr. Reyes has been performing surgery for more than 15 years and is certified to perform the TIF procedure.

Excess Weight and Heartburn Dr. Luis Reyes has successfully helped thousands of patients lose weight through surgical interventions. Throughout the years, he has seen that patients who are struggling with their weight are oftentimes also struggling with heartburn, which is more common in overweight individuals. As a general surgeon trained in transoral incisionless fundoplication* (TIF), a newer endoscopic procedure to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), Dr. Reyes hopes to help Valley residents find relief and find it fast.

What is the TIF Procedure? The TIF procedure is a minimally invasive procedure that takes less than an hour. Unlike laparoscopic surgery, the TIF procedure does not require incisions. “The patient is given general anesthesia, and a device equipped with a tiny camera is lowered toward the stomach through the mouth. A new valve is created by folding and suturing tissue where the stomach meets the esophagus,” says Dr. Reyes. “This prevents the stomach acid from going up into the esophagus.”

Benefits of the TIF procedure:

What is GERD? GERD is the most common gastrointestinal-related diagnosis made by U.S. physicians. It is estimated that pain and discomfort from acid reflux impacts over 80 million people at least once a month in the U.S. GERD can have a significant impact on a patient’s quality of life through persistent typical and atypical symptoms, inconsistent sleep patterns, dietary restrictions, additional healthcare costs and lost productivity from work.

• Many patients return to normal activities in a few days • Most patients no longer have to take proton pump inhibitors in which long-term use has been linked to esophageal cancer and osteoporosis • Patients can begin to eat foods they could not previously tolerate • Hiatal hernias can often be treated just before the TIF procedure during the same anesthesia setting • Patients have no scars associated with the TIF procedure • No implantable device necessary

To watch a video about the procedure or register for a free seminar, go to For more information or to set up a consultation, call 956-630-4161.

Upcoming seminars: November 28

February 7

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6 pm at McAllen Heart Hospital Conference Room *Individual results may vary



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NETWORKING THE FUTURE by So ut h Texa s Co l l ege



NOV/DEC 2017

STC’s recent designation by NSA as a cybersecurity institution opens the doors for local talent to pursue their dreams.

thinks his best shot is striving for a soccer scholarship in order to attend college. “If I wanted to go out of state, I would have to see what scholarships are available, as well as what types of financial aid are available,” he said. “I would have to get out of state tuition, and then figure out how I’m going to pay for it.”

Lacking the resources to pay for school out of his own pocket as well as permanent residence status, Carlos Avila says his options are limited when it comes to finding a future university. Born in Pachuca near Mexico City, Avila said he and his family moved around the country following his father, who was always seeking work. Settling in Monterrey and then Reynosa, Avila said the family entered the United States when he was 10 years old. “Instead of me entering sixth grade, they wanted to put me in fifth grade,” Avila said. “After talking to counselors and teachers, we all agreed that I could stay in sixth grade as long as I didn’t fail a class. “Well, since then I have never failed a class. Here I am ready to graduate college before I finish high school.” Now 16, Avila is currently a student at PSJA Southwest. He plans to graduate with his associate degree in computer networking by the time he finishes high school. His residency status, however, limits the amount of assistance he can receive for college, and he

‘THE ORIGINAL 12’ Avila is part of a specialized group composed of veterans, spouses, and returning students who have opted to pursue a new hands-on digital forensics associate of applied science degree at South Texas College. The small group of students call themselves “the original 12” on account of them being among the first to enter the program formerly known as digital forensics specialist when it changed in 2016. Another student, Jose Padilla, fell into the cybersecurity field as a student at South Texas College. He is already employed as a network specialist by Netsync, a company specializing in communications, data center and cloud, network infrastructure, wireless and mobility as well as physical and cyber security in McAllen. Padilla said he has had an affinity for everything computer-related since he was little, and built his own computer when he was 14.


The National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security have designated South Texas College as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Security Two-Year Education (CAE2Y) institution through 2022. The designation, according to NSA and DHS, emphasizes STC’s role to address the critical shortage of professionals with these skills, and highlights the importance of higher education as a solution to defending America’s cyberspace. The program has the potential to be vital to current employers, according to experts in the industry. “In our business, we manage over 900 governments





out of our McAllen cloud system. This means people are actually transacting payments electronically through our highly secure systems,” said Mike Braun, special projects director with Hamer Enterprises, a company that has specialized in government solutions for more than three decades. “We have to constantly monitor the outside world,” Braun said. “It’s not just tracking individuals or trends, it requires investigative skills as it relates to identifying where the sources are coming from. Students have to have the ability to track through, and find where the intrusion is coming from.” South Texas College has emerged as only one of four colleges in Texas to receive the prestigious designation by NSA. This designation will allow the institution to work together with federal organizations and other colleges and universities to better prepare current and future students in cyber defense. “Students who go through our program will earn the skills necessary to help defend America’s cyberspace,” said Francisco Salinas, assistant chair of the Information Technology Program at South Texas College. “In addition, our students will have the opportunity to apply for scholarships, should they decide to continue their education and obtain a higher degree.”

“The program isn’t too far from what I was into already, which is the networking program. I decided to go for both, and they go hand in hand,” Padilla said. “Having that cyber security knowledge and background is going to help out no matter what path I want to take in networking.” Classes are akin to working with family, according to Noe Zamora, an older student who graduated high school in 1985, and spent years working as an AC technician before being injured on the job in 2004. “We all help each other in this group. We’re like a family,” Zamora said. “Most of us who are studying networking and cybersecurity are really close. We try to stick together. We also hopefully have a cybersecurity club in the works right now.”

NOV/DEC 2017



The Boys & Girls Clubs of Edinburg RGV: Providing Access and Opportunities



NOV/DEC 2017

by Lor i H ou s t on

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Edinburg RGV is gearing up for their annual “Steak” in Your Community event, held every year in January. It is not only a chance to fundraise for the organization that serves so many local youths, but it also highlights the successes of the participants. This event was originally started so community members and students could meet and interact with one another throughout the dinner. In the beginning, it was a “steak and burger” dinner, where the children ate the steak and the adults ate the burgers, but it has evolved over the years. Now, everybody gets to eat steak while they get to know one another. Donors and sponsors of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Edinburg RGV get the opportunity to see the impact the organization is having on the youths of their community. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Edinburg RGV serves over 16,000 young people throughout all its locations in Edinburg and the surrounding communities. The organization’s mission is to provide opportunities to all youths in a positive, caring environment, enabling them to become productive, responsible, influential citizens. Sabrina Walker-Hernandez, CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Edinburg RGV, said that local businesses and individuals can

buy tickets or entire tables for the dinner. A live band will perform and guests can enjoy a bar. Other activities during the event include a live auction as well as a silent auction. Walker-Hernandez said that last year was the first time they had a featured artist at the event, as well. Each of the sponsors receives a piece of artwork by the featured artist as a token of appreciation. This year the featured artist will be Eugenia Parks. “Her beautiful painting actually won the national Boys & Girls Clubs of America Fine Arts Competition,” WalkerHernandez said. She believes it is important to really focus on the children in the program so the community can see concrete evidence of the impact the Boys & Girls Club has on them all. According to Walker-Hernandez, not many community members know that the organization has a fine arts program. Students learn about watercolor, acrylics, and art history. However, art is not the only program it offers. “We try to highlight opportunities for that child that may be interested in art, or the child that is interested in engineering, or whatever path they are on at that moment,” Walker-Hernandez said. In addition to art programs, the organization also hosts STEM initiatives and many other



programs for leadership and growth. Young people also learn important life skills through the Money Matters and Career Launch programs. The highlight of the “Steak” in Your Community event is the Youth of the Year competition. It is the highest honor a Boys & Girls Club member can get. Prior to the event, the organization holds a competition to find a member who has overcome obstacles, invested in their community and club, and is able to articulate what the club means to them. During this competition, potential honorees have to write a fivepage essay about what obstacles they have faced in their life and how they feel about the club. They also have to give a two-minute speech in front of a panel of judges. “It is a really intense process with all the essay writing and speech preparation,” Walker-Hernandez said. Competitors even have people from the local university come to listen to and critique their speeches. It is very competitive, with each location choosing a youth to compete in the overall Edinburg Boys & Girls Clubs RGV contest. It starts with eight young people, aged 14 to 18, then gets narrowed down to the top three. Nobody knows who the winner is until the night of the “Steak” in Your Community event. The top three contenders get up and tell their story, giving a speech about themselves. The evening culminates

“I think the community has really bought into it because they get to see the product, what everything is centered around: our kids.”



in the announcement of the winner. The event also honors a distinguished member of the community who gets the opportunity to present the winning youth with a scholarship check of $3,750. A community member is chosen each year for this honor based on their impact in the community and the future of Edinburg. This year’s honorary chair is Marissa Castañeda, chief operations officer and senior executive vice president at Doctors Hospital at Renaissance. Walker-Hernandez says the organization sells out of the 500 available tickets every year. “I think the community has really bought into it because they get to see the product, what everything is centered around: our kids,” she said.

NOV/DEC 2017

S abri na Wal ke r- He rnande z , CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Edinburg RGV

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RGV LEAD: The Valley’s Connection Between Academics and Economics b y Lor i H ou s t on



NOV/DEC 2017

For over 25 years, RGV LEAD has built up the intellectual

post-secondary institutions.” As a way of showcasing opportunities to Valley students, RGV LEAD sponsors an Education & Career Expo each year to bring students into contact with local employers and the educational institutions in the area that can provide them with the skills and certifications they would need to excel at the jobs those businesses offer. Events like these allow the students to see firsthand how they can chart a path to their own success. One of the student-centered programs the organization has implemented is RGV LEAD Student Ambassadors. As ambassadors, student leaders work together in teams at the regional level and within their communities. During their annual summit, they are given opportunities to learn leadership skills, like how to engage an audience, that they can then use when promoting the program in their communities.

capital and economic growth of the Rio Grande Valley. Formerly known as Tech Prep, LEAD stands for Linking Economic and Academic Development. RGV LEAD is a partnership between students, the business community, and educational institutions in the Rio Grande Valley. Originally established with federal grants, the program evolved six years ago into a community-funded enterprise through partnerships, memberships, and other local funding solutions. RGV LEAD works with schools, organizations, and employers from Brownsville to Rio Grande City. According to Dr. Norma Salaiz, RGV LEAD director, the organization facilitates collaboration between local educators and local employers. “We partner with every single school district in the Rio Grande Valley,” she said. “And we also partner with the four



"It is important that we talk about what employers are looking for and what it's going to take to help develop the economy of South Texas."



requirements including completion of advanced technical credit or college-and-career focused programs, or earning college credit while in high school. Each of these RGV LEAD Scholars also has a chance to apply for the $5,000 scholarship awarded by the RGV LEAD Board. RGV LEAD also recognizes outstanding educators who are giving their all to make sure their students are ready for the challenges of higher education and entering the workforce. Each year, a couple of RGV LEAD Student Ambassadors present an award to the RGV LEAD Teacher of the Year and the Counselor of the Year. Their ability to motivate and engage their students and work tirelessly on their behalf does not go unnoticed by the students themselves, and the organization as a whole. Developing a higher level of competence in the Rio Grande Valley’s workforce, which, in turn, contributes to the economic growth of the entire region, is a mission that everyone at RGV LEAD takes seriously. "It is important that we talk about what employers are looking for and what it's going to take to help develop the economy of South Texas," Salaiz said.


Another initiative facilitated by RGV LEAD includes a mentorship program that matches successful community professionals with aspiring high school students to ensure that all participating students graduate from high school with a college-and-career-ready mindset. The mentoring is split between both the school and the community, but the ultimate goal is to develop the personal qualities necessary for success in school, work, and life. RGV LEAD also seeks to enrich educators through Educator Summer Externships so participants can better prepare their students for tomorrow’s job markets. Within this program, teachers work as employees at various sites and businesses throughout the Valley and engage in activities demonstrating the skills employers seek. This gives educators a better idea of what local employers are looking for in their future workforce. During the externship, the teachers develop instructional materials they will use the following year, giving their students relevant learning experiences as a result. “Some of the employees that are vying for a job may not have the entry-level skills that are needed and so some employers struggle to find qualified employees,” Salaiz said. The partnership between the Academies of the Rio Grande Valley and Ford Next Generation Learning (Ford NGL) is fundamentally changing the structure of some high schools throughout the Valley. RGV LEAD designed a regional plan for the Academies of the Rio Grande Valley that supports the economic development of the area by strengthening the connection between education and business. The Ford NGL Academy model provides the links to occupations and industries in the local market with work-based learning opportunities and invaluable insight into the skills and knowledge needed to thrive in the workforce. Both the Brownsville and Mission Economic Development Corporations have contracted with RGV LEAD for Career Center Project activities, which allows RGV LEAD to customize a regional approach to fit community needs. The focus is to develop the “human capital” — the students within the local school districts — through various initiatives, including the creation and distribution of a targeted occupations handbook, multiple career forums, and student internships. Students who participate in the RGV LEAD Scholar program also earn special recognition for themselves. The students who receive the graduation honor have met program

NOV/DEC 2017

Dr. N o r ma Sa l a i z , RGV LEAD director


SCHOOL REDESIGN GRANT Monte Alto High School and Jose Borrego Middle School are awarded $3 million to create new and improved learning environments



NOV/DEC 2017

by Susie Martinez

A whopping $3 million was recently secured through the School Redesign Grant (SRG) with the assistance of Barbara Cannon from Monte Alto ISD and Maggie Rodriguez by Educational Research Institute (ERI). Monte Alto High School and Jose Borrego Middle School will receive these funds from the Texas Education Agency (TEA), equally split between the two campuses, to develop a school redesign plan that will enable each campus to create new and improved learning environments that substantially increase student achievement. During the 2016-17 academic school year, Monte Alto High School and Jose Borrego Middle School were identified as Focus/Focus (Progress) campuses. This status is assigned based on the reading and mathematics assessment results and/or graduation rates for each campus. Each campus will implement the Transformation Model designed to assist in making comprehensive changes in the staff and instructional model, which will lead the campuses to exit Focus status. Monte Alto ISD’s newly appointed superintendent, Dr. Richard Rivera, stated that there are numerous challenges the targeted campuses will have this school year in increasing students’ academics. “This SRG grant will be instrumental in establishing new academic programs that will help meet the needs of our students,” he said. “I want to thank Ms. Barbara Cannon, who worked very hard over the summer to acquire these funds that will assist our boys and girls.” Rivera has more than 50 years of experience in an educational setting and has assisted other districts in improving student academics, including EdcouchElsa ISD and Weslaco ISD, where he served as superintendent. The grant funds will be utilized to increase the effectiveness of teachers and campus leaders, improve instruction through targeted professional development, create communityoriented schools, and provide operational flexibility to

schools. Moreover, the campuses will each contract with an external School Redesign Partner to assist in the planning of the redesign, as well as provide guidance and support throughout the implementation process of the grant.

THE FOLLOWING ELEMENTS WILL BE INCORPORATED INTO THE PROGRAM DESIGN: A project director will be hired to ensure that activities and strategies being implemented are of sufficient quality and scope for the continued commitment of all stakeholders; A teacher facilitator will be hired to research and create lessons that complement/supplement the curriculum, observe teachers and provide feedback, and track and assess student academic progress and attendance; An incentive program will be initiated in which teachers and campus administrators can receive a stipend based on students’ increased academic scores, receipt of microcredentials,






engagement, and improved attendance and behavior; Workshops and professional development trainings will be provided to all targeted school personnel with an opportunity to actively develop improvement plans, review current school data, and determine next steps. Teachers will also be allotted time for joint planning across all grade levels; Various initiatives will be implemented to ensure students remain committed to the program and are academically prepared for the next phase of their education. For example, each summer, students will have the opportunity to take part in a Summer Robotics Program, in which students will utilize STEM skills to build robots that will be entered into local and state competitions;



Network (TxVSN), which was also awarded; however, it was a much smaller grant in comparison to the SRG. The SRG will provide many resources for the awarded campuses that will allow them both to improve students’ academic performance, attendance, and behavior; teachers’ proficiency; parental involvement; and ultimately, school climate. I’m truly excited to see this grant unfold and witness the great outcomes that it will have on the district.”

Tuition reimbursement will be offered to eligible English language arts (ELA), math, and science teachers who are interested in continuing their education and obtaining their master’s degrees; Ongoing support will be provided by the selected school redesign partner/managing entity, district/campus administration, and other contracted trainers and consultants; Quarterly surveys will be designed and administered to solicit

sent home with students and posted on the campus website. This will detail any existing and new strategies that are being

This SRG grant will be instrumental in establishing new academic programs that will help meet the needs of our students. I want to thank Ms. Barbara Cannon who worked very hard over the summer to acquire these funds that will assist our boys and girls.”

implemented and how these strategies will affect students’ outcomes, as well as, the success each strategy is having.

If these elements, carefully selected for the School Redesign Grant (SRG), are successfully implemented, each campus will be eligible to receive additional years of funding from TEA. “I am excited to be partnering once again with Monte Alto ISD for these grants,” said Linda V. Alaniz, ERI president. “My staff and I previously submitted the Texas Virtual School

Dr. Richard Rivera, Monte Alto ISD superintendent



Bi-annual updates on the progress of the program which will be


students, and community-based organizations; and

NOV/DEC 2017

feedback from stakeholders, to include teachers, parents,



BULLYING IN THE RGV Today, many children are affected by some form of bullying, whether it be physical, verbal, or relational. Though bullying in schools has always been a concern, in the past few years, technology, and more specifically social media, has exacerbated the issue, allowing for ongoing harassment that can leave victims feeling as though they are without an escape from its reach. Whatever the form of bullying, it is identified as aggressive and intentional and can show up with immediate impacts and have lasting effects. Bullying can rob students of the opportunity to learn and can result in serious or even have fatal consequences. While schools tend to be a hotspot for bullying, many face the issue even into adulthood. According to the National Education Agency (NEA), especially due to advances in technology, bullying has been on the rise across the country, with 77 percent of students saying they have been victims of bullying and one out of five students admitting to bullying their peers. A recent surge in bullying-related suicides has

brought national attention to the seriousness of the issue. In response to this alarming increase, much progress has been made to address the best ways to deal with bullies of all kinds and at every level. According to one Valley teacher, each year, teachers are trained on how to recognize bullying and deal with it in the classroom. This effort is important, but she noted it does not always prepare teachers for real-life situations. In her case, teachers are often expected to handle bullying under the umbrella of classroom management. However, it can be an issue that extends well beyond the classroom. NEA research shows that school staff training is essential to address the problem, but found that many educators do not feel equipped to do so. According to the NEA, almost half of all educators in the country say they’ve received no training on their district’s bullying policy, and 74 percent say they could benefit from training on when and how to intervene in cyberbullying. Fortunately, many Valley schools have adopted anti-bullying initiatives to raise awareness among staff and students and minimize acts of



NOV/DEC 2017

By A bbey Kunkl e

According to the National Education Agency (NEA), especially due to advances in technology, bullying has been on the rise across the country, with 77 percent of students saying they have been victims of bullying and one out of five students admitting to bullying their peers.



should document any concerning text messages, emails, or posts. When it comes to bullying, students should also be a part of the solution. Though it is a major challenge to address, schools have recently made strides in being proactive to prevent bullying between students. Starting at the elementary level, schools have begun to focus on character education and encourage students to put it into practice on a daily basis. The best way to address bullying is to stop it before it begins. “I am convinced that bullies will always exist,” said a licensed professional counselor in the RGV who works with many patients who are dealing with the effects of bullying. “The only way to preserve oneself and weaken a bully is to remain connected to (a) sense of value and worth. One thing I do know is that we cannot survive despair alone. People need people. It is essential to reach out to loved ones, the community, the church, healthy friends, local mental health organizations, and reach out for help and support if one is experiencing depression, especially related to verbal abuse or bullying.”



NOV/DEC 2017

bullying. Generally, when bullying is identified, teachers are expected to send students to the school counselor, who may be better prepared and will have the opportunity to address underlying factors in a one-on-one setting. Signs of bullying may include ripped clothing, hesitation about going to school, decreased appetite, or general depression or anxiety. Bullied students also often fall behind in their studies, get sick, miss school, and even drop out. To help students thrive socially and academically, parents and teachers are on the front lines of the fight against bullying. Among some suggestions of creating a safe environment for children, the American Psychological Association recommends first and foremost that parents, teachers, and school administrators be knowledgeable and observant. Parents should have open-ended conversations to find out what is going on in their children’s lives. In regard to cyberbullying, parents and schools can set up filters on computers, which should be in a public place where they can be monitored. If your children are allowed cell phones, let them know you will monitor their text messages, and think carefully before allowing access to a camera option. Parents should report any threatening messages to the police and




FOUNDATION Noble Charities Looks to Boost Education, Health Care Throughout RGV



NOV/DEC 2017

b y Amy Ca s e b i e r | p h ot os b y J a m e s H or d

Sometimes, all it takes is a single opportunity to reshape the course of the rest of a person’s life. That’s why the leadership team at Noble Texas Builders in Weslaco will start giving local individuals and organizations these kinds of life-changing opportunities through Noble Charities. “If it wasn’t for somebody giving us advice or assisting us in some way or another or believing in us, we probably wouldn’t have the courage to do what we’re doing right now,” said Juan Delgado, project executive for Noble Texas Builders. As a company, Noble Texas Builders has a reputation for being active in the community it’s a part of. “We feel giving back to the community is always in our hearts,” said Alfredo Garcia Jr., director of operations for the company. “It’s part of one of our core values, community. We encourage everybody in our company to be involved in some way or another. Whether it be with their church, whether it be with serving on a board, or just volunteering, we just push for it and we hope that people do it.” The leaders at Noble Texas Builders work hard to build a sense of belonging and unity in the workplace that inspires the entire team to want to make a difference and be a part of the fabric of the community, president and CEO Rene Capistran added. Establishing Noble Charities in order to have a greater impact on the region was a natural next step — even as that dedication to the community was there from the beginning of the company, which was founded in 2015.

“One of the beautiful things is that all of our employees, we all have the same passion — the passion of assisting and helping,” Delgado said. “It’s when you have a common objective with 52 individuals … it just makes you very strong.” While Noble Charities is still in its infancy as an official organization, it has already made waves throughout the Rio Grande Valley. On July 26, Noble Charities saw its inaugural outreach program succeed with a STEM-related field trip for Brownsville ISD students interested in architecture, engineering, and construction. Held at the former Wells Fargo building in downtown Brownsville, Capistran helped bring together figures in city and state government, as well as schools and universities, to help the group of seventh-graders enjoy a real-world experience in science, technology, engineering, and math careers. The experience resonated. One of the parents of the students called Capistran to thank him for the field trip. “(The student) wasn’t really sure that construction, engineering was the degree he wanted to look for,” Delgado said, recounting the phone call Capistran received. “But after the walkthrough, it cleared his mind. That day, I remember we gave hardhats to all the students. The parent was very proud and saying, ‘my son is putting your Noble Texas Builders hardhat in his room. He’s very proud and this is the path he wants to follow.’ Sometimes it’s just a little opportunity like that. If it’s helping a student figure out what they want to do as they grow up, that’s amazing.”




Charities helps in the future is a priority for the company. Future fundraising ideas are in the works, as is the educational endowments Noble Charities is creating with the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and South Texas College. While the short-term benefits of Noble Charities, like local organizations receiving funds to help with their efforts, or students earning scholarships, might be obvious, Garcia is most excited about the long-term effect. “It’d be interesting to see how it impacts the future of our community, the Rio Grande Valley, of hoping students come back to the Valley and they themselves give back,” he said. “I think it multiplies.” Learn more about Noble Texas Builders at

TUESDAY NOVEMBER 14 + McAllen Town Band presents “Journey Across America” FRIDAY NOVEMBER 17 + Valley Symphony Orchestra presents Touch of Frost SATURDAY NOVEMBER 18 + Adrian Uribe & Omar Chaparro Imparables “El Show” SUNDAY NOVEMBER 26 + Christmas Wonderland - Holiday Spectacular MONDAY NOVEMBER 27 + McAllen Community Concer presents “Sirens of Song” SATURDAY DECEMBER 2-3 + RGV Ballet's The Nutcracker (2 showings) WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 15 + McAllen Town Band presents “Let Chirstmas Ring” SUNDAY DECEMBER 17 + La India Yuridia "Semos Un Equipo" THURSDAY DECEMBER 30 + Moscow Ballets “Great Russian Nutcracker”




NOV/DEC 2017

Garcia agreed, citing the importance of laying a strong foundation in education for the region. “It helps those students become our replacements,” he said. “That’s the future. We’re not going to be here forever. We want them to come back here and take over and do better for the community — do better than what it is now.” Noble Charities was set to host a fundraising fishing tournament Oct. 13 as part of the next steps for the organization. “Those monies that we raise are going to some of the foundations,” Garcia said. “I think that’s going to help us get really kicked off to a good start. I think once we see the profits and gains on that, we’re going to be able to determine what’s next.” Beyond the fishing tournament, organizing a committee to help influence who Noble



Juan Delgado, project executive for Noble Texas Builders

FRIDAY NOVEMBER 10 + Dr. Cesar Lozano


One of the beautiful things is that all of our employees, we all have the same passion — the passion of assisting and helping. It’s when you have a common objective with 52 individuals … it just makes you very strong.”

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THE RISE AND FALL OF MANUFACTURING JOBS strong until shortly after the new millennium, when it bowed to two big economic pressures and the shifting demographics that surrounded it.

Explore why changing demographics mean there won’t be a manufacturing renaissance, and learn where job growth is shifting. For decades after World War II, manufacturing was a mainstay of the American economy, providing steady employment and good wages for millions of workers chasing the American dream. Today, however, there are 37 percent fewer manufacturing jobs than there were in 1979, when the industry peaked at 19.5 million jobs. Much has changed over those 38 years, but manufacturing’s downfall is the most recent long-term transition that reshaped the economy into what’s needed to serve current and future generations, according to Raymond James Chief Economist Dr. Scott Brown.

TECHNOLOGY REVOLUTION “Factory jobs have always come and gone,” Brown said, “but manufacturing output has increased substantially over the years. The number of manufacturing jobs dropped in the last two recessions, but failed to rebound as they had in past recoveries.” Much of this change is due to technology, which has been a catch-22 for manufacturing. Robots and automation pushed efficiency and output to record levels, but replaced workers, leaving companies needing fewer to produce more goods. Technology’s effect on manufacturing jobs continues to be a harsh reality for workers. “Half of the jobs losses have been due to technology, and those aren’t going to come back,” Brown said. “We expect huge technology improvements over the next 10 to 20 years are going to reduce manufacturing jobs more.”

BABY BOOMER ARRIVAL Manufacturing’s ascent to economic dominance mirrors the arrival of the baby boom generation, the roughly 75 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964 who redefined the economy and flooded the labor force, helping to fuel manufacturing’s growth. “Those workers coming in are consumers, as well,” Brown said, and as demand for goods grew, more manufacturing jobs were created for those same boomer consumers. After peaking in 1979, manufacturing employment remained




NOV/DEC 2017

As technology grew and the dot-com era recession took hold, international trade agreements proliferated making it easier and,



by 2024, the largest loss of any sector. Brown also expects employment growth in education and technology. The BLS projects increased enrollment in postsecondary education as the college-age population grows and more adults return to school to learn new skills. Technology will be a large focus for all students entering school as its role in the economy continues to grow. “A lot of firms are looking for higher skilled workers,” Brown said. “They want people who know how to use computers and it’s hard to compete in that environment” without a college degree. Collectively, the economic signs do not point toward a manufacturing renaissance, but they do give the next generation of workers directions to the new path to the American dream.

at times, cheaper to produce or purchase goods abroad and import them to the United States. Again, manufacturing jobs became a casualty. Brown also credits supply-chain changes such as larger container ships and infrastructure upgrades at domestic and foreign ports for increasing trade. Globalization is making it increasingly common for goods consumed in the U.S. to be made elsewhere.

THE FUTURE Brown believes domestic manufacturing jobs won’t completely disappear, but demographic changes continue to lift other sectors while leaving behind manufacturing. “Typically, the population will dictate the jobs,” Brown said. “Health care is going to be a growing industry because the population is getting older and will need more care.” As baby boomers age and enter retirement, they’re once again reshaping the economy. Jobs in the healthcare and social assistance sector skyrocketed, growing 107 percent since 1990, the first year the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) tracked the sector, while manufacturing jobs declined 30 percent over the same timeframe. The BLS expects 3.8 million additional healthcare and social services jobs by 2024, when the oldest boomers turn 78. Manufacturing is projected to lose an additional 814,000 jobs

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Article provided by Bill Martin, CFP®, 1845 Capital of Raymond James, 1400 N McColl, Suite 101, McAllen, TX 78501. For more information, please contact Bill Martin, CFP® at 956-331-2777. Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, CFP® (with plaque design) and CFP® (with flame design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board's initial and ongoing certification requirements." © Raymond James & Associates, Inc. member New York Stock Exchange / SIPC



ELEMENTS ERO Architects’ New Houston ISD School Stands Up to Harvey



NOV/DEC 2017

b y E R O A r ch i t e ct s

On Sept. 8, all four major national networks televised the XQ Super School Live program promoting learning by doing, focusing on the future, and solving real world problems. Justin Timberlake, Tom Hanks, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Ringo Starr were headliners among 45 stars endorsing the new learning philosophy. Viola Davis and Julius Tennon co-produced the show with education nonprofit XQ Institute and the Entertainment Industry Foundation to encourage rethinking high school education. Coinciding with the XQ television event was the grand opening of Houston’s Furr High School Institute for Innovative Thinking, one of 10 XQ Super School winners with a $10 million prize attached to advance its proven teaching methods. Opening was delayed by two weeks due to Hurricane Harvey’s more than 50 inches of rain over four days and sustained 79 mph winds belting Houston’s buildings and neighborhoods. During Furr’s project scoping, the Community Advisory Team requested Texas-based

ERO Architects design a facility that was a 24/7 community center and safe haven from storms as well as provide a clinic, day care, adult education, life skills training, vocational education for higher-paying skilled labor jobs within the community, and college-ready learning. ERO’s building and drainage design withstood Hurricane Harvey. Building orientation, profile, roofing design, modern materials, coordinated structural and architectural design, holistic approach from site drainage to green strategies all played into its survival. ERO’s specialized knowledge of harsh climates and 3-D design tools facilitated development of a precise model accurately replicating the buildings’ physical performances. “I was worried to death because most of the East End flooded,” said Dr. Bertie Simmons, school principal. “We never got a drop of water in the school at all. I was amazed and I thought it would have flooded, but it didn’t and people tell me a lot of it has to do with the way it was designed.”



"Furr sustained historic weather with no damage; so I think that speaks to the design of the building but more importantly it speaks to the thoughtfulness about the building. We

Richard Carranza, Houston ISD superintendent

District Superintendent Richard Carranza echoed Simmons’ thoughts. “Furr sustained historic weather with no damage, so I think that speaks to the design of the building but more importantly it speaks to the thoughtfulness about the building,” he said. “We may have to rethink going forward about the design of newer schools here.” ERO’s design withstood XQ evaluation also. Furr High School is a 21st century high school lauded as exceptional and thoughtful. “ERO worked well with us,” Simmons said. “We worked as a family. They found ways to include a clinic, community center, and a Newcomers Center. They have worked diligently with us to implement an ID Scanner so that we are able to enter our school on a flexible schedule. We would not have been able to win (XQ) without ERO.” Eli R. Ochoa, managing partner and CEO of ERO, noted the alignment of his firm's design philosophy with XQ Super School’s values. “Our embrace of our South Texas roots has taught us how to respect other community's land, people, and history,” he said. “This is the prominent component of our design approach and it



reflects our sensitivity to taking a holistic view of each project so that our clients and members of the community become partners in planning and development. The values of XQ confirm that our effort to incorporate learnable, teachable, and communal components into our designs is the right pathway forward for schools. ERO’s design of Furr High School embodies all that is known about current strategies in educational achievement. ERO exceeded expectations and created a collaborative learning environment for an educational approach combining rigorous academics with hands-on, real-world experiences.” “It’s (Furr) a welcoming space, the space is beautiful, but mainly the people are so excited and animated, you can tell they just want to be here,” Carranza said. “A space is supposed to allow people to be who they are and students should have a space commensurate with their dreams.” Simmons agreed. “Everybody is saying this the most beautiful building on this side of town and it’s the most functional one. I went in and saw some of the classrooms and was really amazed by the furniture and technology and how it relates to better teaching. The outdoor learning spaces are beautiful and the kids can’t wait to get out there and work in groups. It’s what we’re talking about — giving kids choices and a voice. People who come in here are just blown away.” Needless to say, ERO and its entire design and construction team are proud of this new high school.


the design of newer schools here.”

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may have to rethink going forward about


HOW SWEET IT IS RGV Sisters Cook up Success with Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory Locations



NOV/DEC 2017

b y Lo r i Ho us to n | p h ot os b y Ke v i n M a r t i n e z Veronica Barrera believes in her community, and for over a decade, she has dedicated herself to improving it in a variety of ways through her business. Originally a Weslaco native, and once again a local resident, Barrera decided to return home after having left the Rio Grande Valley for college and a career. Barrera wasn’t looking forward to the idea of starting at the bottom again in her career just because she decided to move back to the Valley. She had been working as a nutritionist in Dallas, and had extensive experience running kitchens. “I wanted to do something different,” Barrera said. “It was just at the start of the boom for the Valley.” She and her sister started looking into business opportunities. “The big talk at the time was about Weslaco and Mercedes fighting for the outlets.” She knew this was a chance to bring something new to the part of the region she considered her home, the place she and her sister grew up in. “I wanted something that was familiar to people, something that would make the Valley more desireable,”

Barrera said. She acknowledged that she wanted to draw South Padre visitors farther west, to encourage them to patronize businesses in her part of the Valley by providing them with something familiar. The Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory is a well known international franchise that Barrera and her sister were both familiar with from their time living away from the Valley. Cooking and baking had always been a passion for her, so she thought taking on a chocolate shop with her sister was doable. As a franchise, some of the candy is made in the factory in Durango, Colorado, and brought in by refrigerated truck, but other items are made in house, including the caramel apples. “The apples took off like crazy,” Barrera said. “It was such a great start for us in Mercedes because I just couldn’t keep up. We make our caramel from scratch so I was making these huge batches and we were dipping around 300 apples every couple of days.” Within three months she had to hire a cook to help her. About a year after they opened up their shop in Mercedes, Barrera and her sister decided to take another



“The apples took off like crazy. It was such a great start for us in Mercedes because I just couldn’t keep up. We make our caramel from scratch so I was making these huge batches and we were dipping around 300 apples every couple of days.” Vero nica Bar r er a



occasions like weddings, birthdays, quinceañeras and baptisms. They have experience with large and small events and enjoy working closely with their customers to perfectly enhance each unique occasion. Barrera and her sister treat their customers like friends and family because they are deeply entrenched in their community and are working to support it as they support themselves. The Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory has such a variety of edible delights, including sugar-free options, that everyone is sure to find a new favorite candy to love. Barrera admits that even though she has a favorite candy in each category, her overall favorite is the plain milk-chocolate bar. She encourages her employees to try them all, so if you are looking for a recommendation, come into any of the locations here in the Valley and just ask!

NOV/DEC 2017

excited to be a part of the premier shopping destination in the Rio Grande Valley. Besides providing Valley residents with sweet treats during their shopping experience, Barrera also creates unique gift baskets and offers catering for special


chance and invested in another store. This time, they opened up a location in Palms Crossing in McAllen. “Palms Crossing was opening up with P.F. Chang’s and Cheddars, all these places the Valley didn’t have before,” she said. Barrera treasures the hometown feel of the Valley but also wants growth and opportunity that comes from having a full range of businesses that used to take people out of the Valley to shop. She recalls always going to San Antonio to go school shopping as a child, but now as a local businesswoman, she realizes the importance of shopping local because it benefits and improves the community and the schools. Early on in her business, Barrera set up fundraising campaigns with local teachers, selling them candy at cost, allowing them to fund field trips and other learning experiences, as a way to give back to her community. They also regularly donate gift baskets for charities and causes in the local area. The newly expanded La Plaza Mall is the home of Barrera’s third location. The Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory franchise headquarters and Barrera are both


MISSION ACCOMPLISHED by Teclo J. Ga rcia | p h o to s b y Ja mes Ho r d



NOV/DEC 2017

Cano & Sons Trucking company’s mission is to make sure every employee, vendor, and customer is proud to be a member of its team. Cano & Sons Trucking is a dynamic transportation firm that continues to grow and move forward. It has come a long way from humble beginnings nearly 20 years ago with just one truck. Today, Cano & Sons Trucking’s state-of-the-art facility on a 29-acre campus in San Juan is home to 160 employees, 130plus trucks and a digital command center. The logistics firm moves freight and products from a wide array of small and large companies in the RGV to all over the continental United States. And while Cano & Sons calls San Juan home and serves the entire RGV, it also does business in Mission, and is a premier corporate sponsor of the Greater Mission Chamber of Commerce member. “We thought by becoming a Mission Chamber (member), we could network with other companies and grow our business,” said Veronica Ghavidel, chief financial officer for Cano & Sons. “We bring a lot of our trucks through there.” It didn’t used to be that way. CEO Juan Cano started the company with a singular truck in 1999 following his father, Reynold, in the transportation business. And gradually, with

business savvy and determination, Cano & Sons expanded outward from its beginnings in San Juan. The trucking firm’s services have also transformed to keep with industry demands. It can ship commercial and private goods from door to door all over the continental United States and Mexico — where it has had offices for years. Cano & Sons are experts in cross-border trade, understand the complicated transfer system, and move goods quickly and efficiently. To diversify and develop new business opportunities, Cano & Sons founded Grande Produce, a produce logistics and warehousing company that operates with the latest of technology and strictest safety standards. Grande Produce is located at the same 29-acre campus where Cano & Sons has its




SATURDAY NOVEMBER 4 + Franco Escamilla

SATURDAY NOVEMBER 11 + Sunset Live Outdoor Concert (Oval Park) + Soul Winning Festival

SAT.-SUN. NOVEMBER 25-26 + Saxet Gun Show

MONDAY NOVEMBER 27 + McAllen’s Annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony (Oval Park)

SATURDAY DECEMBER 2 + McAllen Holiday Parade McAllen Memorial Veterans Stadium

SATURDAY DECEMBER 9 + Sunset Live Outdoor Concert (Oval Park)

SAT.-SUN. JANUARY 13-14 + Saxet Gun Show

TUESDAY JANUARY 16 + Winter Texan Expo & Health Fair

SUNDAY JANUARY 21 + McAllen Marathon Scott Crane + Wedding Fair

FRIDAY JANUARY 26 + McAllen International CarFest

“We thought by becoming a Mission Chamber (member), we could network with other companies and grow our business." Veronica Ghavidel, chief financial officer for Cano & Sons


For More Info:




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

NOV/DEC 2017

Memorial Run


was smart, strategic, and the right thing to do in the community. “We have a lot of customers in there, Steelcase being one of them,” she said. “And we have other customers in the Mission area.” She added the Mission chamber has played a key role in creating social and event opportunities for Cano & Sons to invest into the community, meet Mission business leaders, and help tell the firm’s story. Cano & Sons is proud to be part of Mission Chamber’s team. Mission accomplished again.


corporate offices, its dispatch, safety, and maintenance operations, and truck washing. And Cano & Sons is also strategic. Its facilities are located within a stone’s throw of the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge, the busiest U.S.-Mexico crossing in the country for produce. But with growth and its ever-expanding customer base, Cano & Sons understands how to work all along the Rio Grande in many communities. Ghavidel said Cano & Sons have customers all over the United States and Mexico — from small local manufacturers to multinationals such as Black & Decker, LG, and Expeditors. She said supporting the Mission Chamber




NOV/DEC 2017


Solar has become the darling of the American public — a homeowner's status symbol. Last year, 1 million households displayed solar panels; by 2022, 4 million are expected. Over the past five years, the price for solar fell 63 percent and should continue to tumble. The Federal Investment Tax Credit lets homeowners and businesses deduct 30 percent of solar's cost, minus rebates, from their taxes. But a dark cloud looms: That credit drops to 22 percent by 2021 and there's a threatened tariff on foreign solar panels. Thankfully,

states, cities, and utilities offer solar installation rebates and incentives. Enticing alternatives include Solar Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) and Solar Leasing. PPA customers sign long-term contracts, purchasing power from panels the provider installs. With upfront costs around $1,000, contracts are transferable when selling the house. Electrical rates are set and customers only pay for what the system produces. Solar Leasing means no down payment. The solar power you generate is free and your provider may




manage maintenance, repairs, and system monitoring. two camps. But lease payments rise 3 to 4 percent per year — less Return on investment is one. Lower rates extend than the annual 5 percent increase from your electric ROI, says Abraham Quiroga, Magic Valley Cooperative's company. But there are no state rebates or federal tax Business and Employee Development Division manager. credits; you'll buy any needed energy from your utility and “Installing solar doesn't make sense,” he said. But for an excellent credit rating is required. others, installing solar is doing something for the climate, So where are these options and why isn't solar more protecting the environment. prolific here in the region? Local experts offered their A tough choice, Quiroga's seen an uptick in home insight. installations the past few years. “The economics in the Valley don't work for a PPA Medical professional Rene Villarreal recently installed for small scale residential or small commercial," said solar on his McAllen home. Having always been James Brooks McCleery, general manager of Alba Energy interested in alternative energy, he contacted Alba. in McAllen. "Rates are currently lower or at the cusp of He requested 100 percent conversion from solar. That where a company like California's Solar City would set required a platform on his roof to capture the north side's their PPA rate.” sun. Aesthetics aside, it's working. In the past six weeks, Co-ops are another obstacle. Viewing PPAs as Villarreal has paid $0 to AEP. competition, with their tightly Before proceeding with solar, controlled grid, PPAs aren't you need to ask yourself how allowed. long you'll be in your house. It comes down to parity — “Move in 10 years,” Villarreal said, the value of solar versus local “you won't reap the benefits. If Last year, 1 million electric rates. But PPAs or solar you plan to stay or to leave the households displayed leasing could work in the Valley. home to your children, it's worth solar panels; by In Dallas-Fort Worth, Oncor it.” Energy offers rebates through There's confusion about having 2022, 4 million are its deregulated grid. Rebates solar. Solar power goes straight expected. go to a PPA, allowing it to offer to your meter, so batteries competitive rates at or slightly aren't always necessary. And below what clients would pay in “with solar panels, I can lower that market. the thermostat,” Villarreal said. “That could work here if AEP (offered) the same Having solar covers past usage. Lower your thermostat; structured rebate Oncor offers,” McCleery said. The you'll pay more. “But your out-of-pocket will be minimal economics are there, he added. “Paybacks for commercial for what you'd installed,” Villarreal said. are as good as they were in the Austin market five years Another misperception: homeowners insurance will go ago with rebates (on) the price of solar.” up. Solar panels can withstand hail and 150 mph winds. To help finance the Valley's growing solar market, Rates won't go up, said Villarreal's insurance company. McCleery says they pushed to get Property Assessed Solar has a surprise benefit. Roof panels create a Clean Energy (PACE) financing here. It now pays 100 4-inch gap. Sunshine hits the panels, not the shingles. percent of a commercial project’s costs. An assessment “(That's) thermal insulation,” Villarreal said. is added to a property’s tax bill to repay PACE for up to Going solar is a process. You need patience and 20 years. endurance. Do your homework. Check out the solar But larger commercial solar projects are out of luck — company you're considering; choose a system that there's no financing, and co-ops have tight restrictions on provides the quality and capacity you need. installation size. “If they offered net metering for systems These websites will help: above (a 50 KW commercial system cap), we have quite a to find local solar companies few clients that would do that,” McCleery said. calculates everything from the Homeowners face a serious hiccup financing number of solar panels needed to how much power residential solar — the excellent credit score loan they'll produce qualification. “That can be a high hurdle for people here,” “It's one of the best investments you'll ever make,” McCleery said. Villarreal said. Eligible Valley homeowners considering solar fall into

NOV/DEC 2017


Employee Benefits As Big As Texas!


FBMC Delivers Complete Benefits Management Solutions At FBMC Benefits Management, Inc. (FBMC), we understand that every organization has unique challenges and objectives. That’s why we don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all approach to benefits. For more than forty years, FBMC has been a trusted provider of customized solutions, including brokerage of voluntary/core products, benefits education and communications, enrollment management, and administrative and compliance services. We’ll negotiate a robust benefits package for you that includes medical and voluntary benefits designed for YOUR workforce.

Contract #17-7256

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Navigating the ever-changing world of employee benefits and healthcare is difficult, costly and confusing.

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Need Better Benefits Solutions In Your Region of Texas? OUR NEW PARTNERSHIP MEANS NEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOU. FBMC Benefits Management, Inc. has recently been selected in a competitive bidding process to be the official provider of Employee Benefits for the ESC – Region 19 Purchasing Group – the Allied States Cooperative. These benefits include everything from employee health insurance, to life insurance, to flexible savings accounts – even pet insurance!

MEMBERSHIP SERVICES INCLUDE MORE THAN JUST BENEFITS. By becoming a member of ESCRegion 19 Purchasing Cooperative (Free to any city, county, or government entity including nonprofits and charter schools) you gain access to competitively bid discounts from approved vendors without having to go through the request for bid (RFP) process. HELP IS JUST A PHONE CALL AWAY. No matter what size entity you are – we can make your life easier AND give your employees the benefits they deserve!

CONTACT Gilberto Gonzalez A better way to benefit



Contract #17-7256





NOV/DEC 2017

by S of ia A lema n | photo s Kevi n Ma r ti nez

The McAllen Chamber of Commerce, together with Santa Fe Steakhouse, successfully undertook its ninth annual Santa Fe Wine Classic event at the historic Quinta Mazatlan. Upon walking in, guests were welcomed with a personal wine glass to sample wines from all over the world, including California’s Napa Valley, Argentina, Italy, and Spain. Rows of vendors lined the hallways of the nature center with over 300 bottles of white, red, and blush wines. Guests welcomed the opportunity to talk to experts in the industry, including winemakers who actually work in vineyards. Pairings of food and wine were suggested from some of the best restaurants in the Valley, including Santa Fe Steakhouse, SALT New American Table, and Bodega. Jazz music filled the air while patrons indulged in a luxurious and classic evening under the stars. “I look forward to this event every year and I just want to say that I went to Austin, Texas, two weeks ago to a similar event and this is 100 times better,” said Jesus Gonzalez from NIU Urban Living furniture store in McAllen. “So, I’m so proud of McAllen and the Chamber of Commerce.” This year’s theme was “Vintage Hollywood Glamour: A Night With the Stars,” meaning there was plenty of room for sparkling drinks and shiny attire. Tickets for the event sell at $125 and every year, including this year, tickets sell out at least a month in advance. People come for delectable treats and drinks but enjoy knowing the event donates all of the proceeds to Mcallen ISD. Every year, funds from the event support 25 of McAllen’s top students by awarding them a $1,000 scholarship upon graduation of the International Baccalaureate (IB) program at Lamar Academy in McAllen.

“This event is for a worthy cause,” said Albert Rego, co-owner of the Santa Fe Steakhouse and one of the partners who started the annual Santa Fe Wine Classic. “This is to raise monies for the top students regardless if they have or haven't received other scholarships, regardless of their demographic, or income, they will be rewarded through their merit and hard work. “You get to see the parents, how appreciative they are, you see how much the kids appreciate it, and then they come back and tell us the stories of what they did with that money. We’re doing this for a charitable organization,” Rego added. The organization is the McAllen Chamber Education Initiative and over the last eight years, nearly $400,000 have been raised for scholarships, supplies, and program donations for McAllen ISD students. Gerry Garcia, vice president of Special Projects for the McAllen Chamber of Commerce guarantees to all guests, past and future, that all proceeds go to the students of McAllen. “I want people to know that when they’re coming here, yes, they’re enjoying the food and the wine, but the fee of $125 per person really does go to McAllen ISD and its students,” he said. So let’s raise our glasses and give cheers to a wonderful night that acts as a celebration of the world's finest wines, the Valley’s most delicious food, and one of the few extravagant and fun ways to support education in our area.





NOV/DEC 2017

WHAT’S IN YOUR CART? Renee’s of South Padre Owner Offers Reasons to Buy Local this Holiday Season by Amy Casebier

It’s that time of the year again — time for Christmas music piped in over stores’ loudspeakers, letters to Santa, and struggling to find the perfect gifts for everyone on your list — along with checking it twice. This year, with shopping deals like Black Friday and Cyber Monday extending for days, locally owned stores here in the Rio Grande Valley have felt the strain of competition when it comes to making sales. While much of the rivalry has traditionally been from big box, national

chain retailers, increasingly, the heat has emanated from online retail giants like Amazon. “We have seen an evolution of swift change,” said Renee Martin, owner of Renee’s of South Padre. “Unless one offers a shopping event for customers, we will lose that business to online retailers. In a very short time our competition is the world instead of the guy in the town next door.” Martin, who has lived in the Rio Grande Valley for 35



“A business owner has to give back. We had dozens of events during the year with a huge push for breast cancer awareness and our Thanksgiving table, which served the less fortunate. That was always a great kickoff into holiday giving.”



Small businesses also have an advantage over larger and online competitors because of the idea that they belong in and serve the community they do business in. One CNBC article posited that online retailers like Amazon won’t trouble smaller, locally owned businesses that fit a niche in their towns. “Being a micro-sized business certainly isn't protection against big-box retailers or online competitors, but being a small business that's an integral part of a local community can help build a loyal customer base,” the CNBC article read. The success of Renee’s is likely a testament to just how involved Martin is in the Rio Grande Valley. “A business owner has to give back,” she said. “We had dozens of events during the year with a huge push for breast cancer awareness and our Thanksgiving table, which served the less fortunate. That was always a great kickoff into holiday giving.” And in the face of competition and sales from big box stores and online retail giants, another shopping holiday has steadily been taking hold: Small Business Saturday, the day after Black Friday. American Express created the concept of Small Business Saturday in 2010 to aid locally owned businesses still caught in the grips of the economic recession. The shopping holiday has enjoyed success since then, offering an impetus for shoppers to visit small businesses in their cities. CNBC counted 112 million shoppers who used their buying power for 2016’s Small Business Saturday — the highest number since the creation of the holiday. For Martin, a moral imperative exists for supporting locally owned businesses. “Our family philosophy had been you should spend your money where you make your money,” she said. “This secures all jobs in your community.” Visit the Facebook page for Renee’s of South Padre at


years, established Renee’s of Sharyland in the late 1990s. She sold that property in March 2017 and still owns Renee’s of South Padre, which has had a presence at the island for about seven years. Martin cites resort activities at the beach as a big boost for her business. “I wanted a faith-based community hub,” Martin said regarding her namesake stores’ histories. “Whether a customer spent $5 or $5,000, all my customers got superior service with a smile. I offered products my customers wanted at the best price…many new and hardto-find items.” Martin’s boutique features everything from costume and fine jewelry to shoes, apparel, and decor. Both Renee’s locations offer promotions that highlight national brands like Pandora, Brighton, and UNOde50, all of which are jewelry and accessory companies. From richly designed handbags to embellished, oversized sunglasses, many reviews on the Facebook page for Renee’s of South Padre commented on loving the merchandise offered at the store and touted the location as a perfect place to find special gifts for yourself and loved ones. “Everything you want and nothing you need!” Martin joked about the store’s inventory. It could be the extras that local stores provide that set them apart from big online retailers. “Adding services such as the coffee house and the spa and salon was a huge win for Renee’s of Sharyland,” Martin said. “Adding services keeps the foot traffic steady.” The magic of foot traffic is something online retailers can’t quite replicate. There’s a certain level of serendipity when a shopper is physically inside a store. They might come in search of one item and fall in love with another just by virtue of stumbling upon it. For Renee’s of Sharyland, the coffee house tempted customers with caffeinated brews and food specials. Those who went to eat could also purchase a trinket or gift from the store itself that they might not have sought out otherwise.

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Renee Ma r ti n, own er of Ren ee’s of Sou th Padre



BEGINNING! Arri Fitness to Open January 2018



NOV/DEC 2017

by Lo ri Ho ust o n

One thing about the fitness industry you can always count on is the landscape constantly changing. From big box gyms to boutique-style fitness studios, today there is a place for anyone who cares about their health and fitness. The one thing that hasn’t changed is over half of gym memberships go unused. While the first of every new year brings wellintentioned resolutions and a spike in gym membership purchases, by mid-March the enthusiasm has waned and the monthly cost of membership, in addition to the long-term contract, has become a source of resentment and guilt. Now, though, there is a new gym in town and they aim to change the way you think about fitness and gym membership. Already experienced with gym ownership in the past, Barbara Guerra and her partner, Dr. Antonio Esparza, will be opening a new fitness studio in January 2018. It will be dedicated to inspiring others to live happier, healthier, and more fulfilled lives. Arri Fitness, located in North McAllen in the Sam’s Club complex, will primarily focus on three areas of fitness: strength, cardiovascular, and functional fitness.

While strength training and cardio have been mainstays in the gym world, functional fitness is a relatively new term in the realm of exercise but its roots are old school. Before the modern era of strength machines and treadmills, functional fitness was basically the only kind of fitness there was. These types of exercises are what athletes do in the off season to stay in shape and conditioned. Functional exercises train your muscles by simulating common movements you do at home, work, or in sports. Using various muscles in the upper and lower body at the same time, functional exercises also emphasize core stability. By training for functional fitness, you are training your body the way it was designed to be used. To facilitate and support their functional fitness training program, Arri Fitness is introducing the Valley to the Queenax Functional Fitness System. Think of it as a symbiosis of functional, personal, crossfit, circuit, and group training all in one. Essentially a climbing frame for adults, the 15-station Queenax gives the user the freedom to hang, swing, do


“We want Arri Fitness to be a place where members feel inspired to place a priority on their wellness. We know that if you feel good about yourself and your life, it will have a positive impact on your overall well-being.”

We know that if you feel good about yourself and your life, it will have a positive impact on your overall well-being.” Aside from the state-of-the-art strength and cardio equipment, Arri Fitness is a gym that has big love for the small details. Exceptional customer service is at the heart of this business. Whether you need a personal trainer, help scheduling a Queenax class, or renewing your membership, the staff at Arri Fitness will be focused on your needs from the moment you walk in the door until the minute you walk out. Their goal is to make every member feel special every day, so expect a few extra amenities that other gyms don’t have. Belonging to Arri Fitness means you know taking care of yourself and your health is as important now as it is for the future. Take that New Year’s resolution and turn it into a new way of life. Arri Fitness is more than a gym. It wants to be your fitness partner.

Ba r ba r a Guer r a , Ma nagi ng Pa r tne r of A r r i Fi tne ss





tractions, and eliminate or moderate the effect of gravity. Classes, such as aerial fitness, TRX® Suspension Training, and Superfunctional, are just a few of the offerings Arri Fitness members will be able to choose from. All classes will be taught by certified instructors. An additional functional fitness area in the main gym will be available for individual workouts. Managing partner Barbara Guerra believes that most people are either dealing with or worried about health issues related to lack of exercise and poor diet. “I don’t think there has ever been a time when people were more motivated to change their health and their bodies for good,” she said. “We want Arri Fitness to be a place where members feel inspired to place a priority on their wellness.

NOV/DEC 2017



“We build a sense of belonging and unity that inspires our team to make a difference and be part of the fabric of our community.� - Rene Capistran President and CEO of Noble Texas Builders Noble Texas Builders supports community involvement and encourages its team members to participate through volunteerism. One person's actions can make a lasting impact on our future and ensure our communities have the strength and resources required to thrive.

4 3 5 S. T E X A S B LV D. WE SL A CO, TX | 956. 520.8183 NO B LE T E X A SB U I LDE RS .C O M | IN FO @N O B LE TE X A S B UILD E R S .CO M





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ANXIETY & HOLIDAY STRESS ways including increased comorbidity with other disorders such as depression, changes in appetite, loss of sexual interest, muscle tension, headaches, insomnia, etc. Despite this, many people do not seek treatment due to the stigma regarding mental health services and the normalization of being anxious.

Anxiety plagues many individuals throughout their lifetime. In fact, the Anxiety and Depression Association of American (2017) found that anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting around 40 million adults ages 18 and older. The onset of anxiety can be caused by a variety of factors including, but not limited to: genetics and physiological composition, environmental factors, and temperament. For many, the holiday season is a source of anxiety and depression. Stress, loneliness, fatigue, and frustration may lead to the “Holiday Blues” from Thanksgiving to the New Year. In most cases, symptoms are only temporary. However, if lasting more than two weeks, clinical depression and anxiety may result.

KEY POINTS TO UNDERSTAND Anxiety can lead to negative health outcomes. Anxiety should be taken seriously. Those dealing with anxiety should try to alleviate symptoms or seek professional help. Individuals, family, and friends should be aware of the symptoms related to anxiety such as excessive worry, changes in appetite, and restlessness.

HOW DOES ANXIETY AFFECT HEALTH? Anxiety affects people’s health in a number of negative

Children and teens are susceptible to experiencing anxiety just as much as adults are.



If symptoms of depression or anxiety last more than two to three weeks, it could indicate a more serious mental health problem. Talking with your doctor and getting a referral to a mental health professional is strongly recommended. What Can We Do About Anxiety? Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only 36.9 percent of those suffering from anxiety receive treatment (Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 2017). This can be contributed to the stigma that is involved in the mental health community especially among Latinos. This is partly because many write off anxiety as ataque de nervios, a culture-bound syndrome, and fail to recognize that they need appropriate attention. The vast majority of people with an anxiety disorder can be helped with professional care. Several standard approaches have proven to be effective: therapy, medication, complementary, and alternative treatments. Getting Help Anxiety is seen as a normal part of everyday life. However, constant worry and excess fear can cause negative health outcomes. If you feel that you are unable to alleviate your symptoms, consider seeking professional help. With multiple effective methods of therapy and counseling, anxiety symptoms can be reduced. Counselors and psychologists are trained to offer empirically validated treatments that can help reduce the symptoms which you are experiencing. This can be a temporary state and you have control over how to manage your anxiety. Recognizing the need for help is the first step.

TIPS FOR AVOIDING ANXIETY Regular exercise can combat anxiety. Make a to-do list to reduce excessive worry. Set reasonable expectations and goals for the future. Mindful meditation is a useful way to focus on the moment rather than the expected or feared. Use breathing techniques that will help relax tense body parts. As simple as inhaling slowly through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. Progressive muscle relaxation can help alleviate muscle tension.

HOLIDAY STRESS Although the holiday seasons can be joyful, it can also be a stressful time for some. Many people cannot afford to give gifts to their loved ones, which can be mentally taxing for them. It is also the season of multiple obligations to attend to. During Thanksgiving and Christmas, people are expected to host a big dinner or party and spend it with family. There may be individuals who do not have family near them and that can lead them to be at risk for the Holiday Blues. Holiday Blues are different from mental illness, but should be taken seriously. Holiday Blues can also lead to a more serious psychological condition.

TIPS FOR AVOIDING THE HOLIDAY BLUES Try to stick to normal routines. Get enough sleep and rest. Take time for yourself, but don’t isolate. Spend time with

References available upon request

supportive, caring people.

(Co-Authors include Dr. Mercado’s Mental Health Lab at UTRGV:

Eat and drink in moderation.

Guardiola, Luis Mata, Isabel Aguirre, Jovan Djurkovic, Amy


Make a to-do list. Keep things simple.

Ramirez, Fernando Martinez, & Yvette Hinojosa)


Paola Quijano, Abigail Nunez-Saenz, Andy Torres, Daniela

Get exercise — even if it’s only a short walk.

Set reasonable expectations and goals for activities such as shopping, cooking, entertaining, attending parties or


sending holiday cards.


Set a budget for holiday activities and gift buying. Don’t

Valley Psychological Services - Assistant Professor Department of Psychology at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley |

overextend yourself financially.


NOV/DEC 2017

For many, the holiday season is a source of anxiety and depression. Stress, loneliness, fatigue, and frustration may lead to the “Holiday Blues” from Thanksgiving to New Year’s.


It’s the Thanksgiving holiday and families come from all over to spend an evening together celebrating thankfulness and the year’s blessings. Together, everyone helps in the preparation of the traditional holiday feast that includes all our favorite Thanksgiving staples, like turkey. This year we thought to include a recipe that offers a fun alternative to our favorite autumn bird, and brings us a little closer to home with a Rio Grande Valley twist. These torta-style turkey sliders combine the savory Thanksgiving turkey flavor with the fresh essence found in your mom’s traditional “pico de gallo” and topped with a familiar zing of jalapeño. The recipe still allows several hands to contribute, in case your family likes to prepare dinner together, but will be done in a jiffy, meaning whoever is chef in your house can afford to wake up late this Thanksgiving morning. TORTA STYLE TURKEY SLIDERS 1 lb. ground turkey 1 egg 2 tbsp. chopped cilantro or parsley 2 tbsp. chopped onions 1 slice bread ¼ cup milk Salt and pepper to taste ¼ cup vegetable oil 8 small bolillo style buns



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Mayo or your favorite condiments



by Melissa Guerra | introduction by Sofia Aleman

Pickled carrots

About Melissa Guerra

1. Combine the ground turkey, egg, cilantro or parsley, onions, bread, and milk in a large bowl. Knead the mixture together with your hands, and form into eight patties.

Lettuce Tomato Onions Pickled jalapeños

Melissa Guerra is an eighth-generation Texan, born and raised working on a cattle ranch in South Texas. Every day she cooks three meals a day for her family and likes to spend time learning the history behind the recipes of the Americas. She specializes in Mexican, Noreteño, Texas regional and Latin American cuisine. She has become a familiar, regional food historian and a self-taught culinary expert and has shared her recipes in two cookbooks, including her latest, “Dishes from the Wild Horse Desert: Norteño Cuisine of South Texas.” For more information or recipes from Melissa Guerra, please visit her website at

2. Add vegetable oil to a 9-inch skillet, and heat to about 350 degrees. Carefully add the turkey sliders and cook until no longer pink in the middle, about five minutes on each side. (Avoid pressing down on the sliders with your spatula, as they will dry out.) 3. Once your sliders are completely cooked, remove them from the pan, and hold in the oven to keep them warm. 4. Prepare the bolillo rolls with mayo or your favorite condiments. Add the warm sliders, and garnish with lettuce, tomato. Serves 4


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What you need to know about VBACs in the Valley b y Ab b ey Kun k l e | p h ot os b y N or m a H e s s



NOV/DEC 2017

As they wait for their bundle of joy to arrive, soon-to-be mothers spend countless hours dreaming of names, researching to find the perfect car seat, and trying to learn all the ins and outs of bottle and breastfeeding.

delivery. Those who do not wish to go through surgery again often come across the term VBAC, which stands for vaginal birth after cesarean, and hope that this might be an option they can pursue. According to the American Pregnancy Association, to be considered for VBAC, some initial criteria must be met. The mother’s history should include no more than two cesarean deliveries and no additional uterine scars, anomalies, or previous ruptures. Healthcare providers should be able to monitor labor and the birth location should have personnel available in case a cesarean is needed. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) suggests that factors likely to increase the odds for completing a VBAC include a healthy pregnancy weight, going into labor at or near term, labor that is not induced, and no current pregnancy complications. However, attempting VBAC is not without its own unique risks. According to ACOG, when attempting a vaginal delivery, though the risk is fairly low from 0.2 to 1.5 percent, women who have formerly undergone a cesarean section have a higher possibility of uterine rupture, which, though rare, is a serious complication that can result in severe bleeding and even the death of the baby. Many providers choose not to offer VBACs so as to forgo the potentially fatal risk altogether. Furthermore, due to a lack of staff or resources to handle emergency C-sections, many hospitals, including

Some search for a doctor while others seek out a midwife. But especially for first-time mamas, the labor and delivery part of having a child can be an unknown and even unnerving thing. As each hopes for her own perfect birth story, many have a plan in place for what they imagine labor and delivery should look like, but the reality is that things do not always go as planned. Cesarean sections, often referred to as C-sections, are always a possibility, and though we are extremely fortunate to have access to the often lifesaving surgery, rates of C-section have risen dramatically in recent decades. In fact, the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics reports that nearly one in three babies born in the United States are delivered by cesarean section. In the past, having a C-section meant that all future children would likely be delivered via surgery. However, many women who face the reality of a C-section today often seek out options to avoid having the surgery for a subsequent




those in the Valley, have placed regulations and restrictions the VBAC, ultimately, the distance weighed heavily on her that have caused doctors to discontinue the practice. mind and Norma decided that she should find someone in In the last few years, Dr. Daniel Lee of New Life Ob-Gyn closer proximity. She began working with a midwife, Ana Associates was one of the few providers who performed Ochoa of Beautiful Birth Maternity, and was thrilled to have a VBACs in the Valley. He completed many successful completely different experience for her third pregnancy. deliveries through VBAC with no uterine ruptures occurring. “It was a completely different level of care,” Hess said However, due to the recent changes in hospital policy, he has of working with a midwife. “I really got to know her.” Hess determined that it is no longer feasible to provide patients felt comfortable asking questions and was hopeful that with that option. These policies require that doctors who she would be able to complete the VBAC as planned. As 40 are caring for patients who are attempting VBAC be “readily weeks of gestation rolled around, then 41, and then 42, due available” during the entirety of the labor process, which can to state laws, the midwife was legally unable to keep Norma take hours upon hours in even the smoothest of cases. The on as a patient. With her back-up doctor having moved out of extended time spent at the hospital during the labor process the area, the pregnant mother of two was without a midwife, is often not a possibility for doctors who see many other without a doctor, and 42 weeks and one day pregnant. Hess patients and often have family lives outside of work. went into labor that night. After ending up at the hospital Though he no longer provides the option for patients with no doctor, even though she was already in labor, Norma to attempt a vaginal birth after having gone through a was not given the opportunity to attempt the VBAC and was Cesarean section, Lee leads the way in in his field, staying quickly ushered in to undergo her third C-section. current with up-to date research so For her fourth time around, that he can offer the best possible Norma knew that it would be birth options for parents. Among impossible to find someone to these options, Lee performs what perform a VBAC, and that is where is referred to as a family-centered Lee came in. With a focus on skinNearly one in three C-section, also known as a gentle to-skin contact for the mother babies born in the C-section. and baby, as well as keeping the United States are One of his patients, Norma Hess, baby nearby for the entirety of the delivered by cesarean shared her experience. As a birth process rather than being taken section. photographer, Hess has had the away from the mother for hours opportunity to witness a variety after the surgery, Lee’s emphasis of birth scenarios, but as a mother on family proved to provide a of five children, she has also been completely different atmosphere through her own unique birth for the Hess family. Lee has shown experiences. During her first pregnancy, Hess’ labor was commitment to providing the best options for patients, induced, but after little progression in 26 hours, her doctor at even using clear drapes for surgery so that the mother can the time decided to perform her first C-section. This was not be more involved in the birth. Hess praised Lee and was what she had hoped for, and due to her experience, she and thankful for her experience. her husband waited for about three years before having their “Although I never achieved the VBAC that I wanted, it was second child. This time, Hess learned of the possibility of a very healing experience for me,” she said. VBAC, and found a new doctor who claimed to be supportive. Currently, options in the Rio Grande Valley for VBACs Unfortunately though, even with two weeks to go until full are limited to midwives who deliver at a birthing center gestation, at 38 weeks her doctor “flipped the switch.” He or patient's home, a very few Ob-Gyns, and the Obstetrics said that her baby was very high and recommended a repeat and Gynecology Residency Program at Doctors Hospital at C-section to be performed at 39 weeks. Feeling a sense of Renaissance. This may change if hospitals start laborist defeat, Hess complied and had her second surgery. programs, as is common in many large cities. These After this second birth, Hess and her husband began to programs have board-certified Ob-Gyns and certified nurse focus on adoption, and during the process became pregnant midwives who stay on the labor and delivery unit 24/7 to with their third child. This time, she knew the drill and manage patients in labor. interviewed many doctors even as far as Corpus Christi and San Antonio. The general response from doctors in the RGV was that if she reached 39 weeks without going into labor, they would perform her third C-section. Though she was able to find a doctor in Corpus Christi who agreed to perform

NOV/DEC 2017



Stepping Forward for Suicide Prevention



NOV/DEC 2017

by Elizabeth C. Martinez It’s not an easy topic to discuss and the more we try to understand why, we realize we will never know. The sadness that surrounds suicide and the loss of a loved one is difficult to cope with and the process of healing is different for everyone affected. For years, Melissa Hinojosa-Zamora didn’t talk about the pain she suffered as a child. She experienced the devastating loss of her father to suicide when she was just 8 years old. Like many other survivors of suicide, Hinojosa-Zamora’s emotions were centered on shame and the stigma attached to suicide, which caused people to shudder when the word was spoken. “It took me many years to reconcile my father's death,” Hinojosa-Zamora said. “In 2011, I began walking with a few friends every morning. One morning, my friend, Missy Garcia Moreno, did not show up because her brother had taken his life. Listening to my friends talk about this tragedy, I remained paralyzed inside. I could not utter one word because I just never spoke about my father’s death. “In October 2011, I gave birth to my third child, my son,

at the age of 39. All of a sudden all of the emotions that I held onto surrounding my father’s suicide hit me like a tons of bricks. I was happy (in life), but yet I felt saddened thinking about the fact my father was feeling so helpless at the same age,” Hinojosa-Zamora recalled. “At that time, my daughter was 8, the same age I was when he passed. I just knew I could no longer stay silent. I needed to talk about my father's suicide and I needed my children to know my father as the great person he was and not the darkness I kept him in.” A Google search of suicide prevention turned up a walk in San Antonio promoting the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), and Hinojosa-Zamora found a calling. Participating in that walk was one of the first steps that led to her path to healing and recovery and eventually into the role of being an advocate for suicide prevention. The AFSP is a nonprofit organization exclusively dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education, and advocacy, as well as



“There is hope and understanding, and we can all make a difference to support those affected by mental illness and those that have faced the loss of a loved one to suicide." Meliss a Hi no j o s a -Z a mo r a , one o f the fou n din g board members of th e AF SP Sou th Texas Ch apter

prevention and mental health.” Moreno is also a board member now and chairs the International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day, which will be held at the McAllen Public Library on Nov. 18. Survivor Day is the one day a year when people affected by suicide loss around the world gather at events in their local communities to find comfort and gain understanding as they share stories of healing and hope. “We are gearing up for our sixth annual RGV Out of the Darkness Community Walk,” Hinojosa-Zamora added. “The walk is typically in November, but due to recent hurricane efforts, we have re-scheduled the walk to Jan. 6, 2018.” Hinojosa-Zamora explained that the walk has grown by the thousands and all the money raised supports the AFSP local and national education and advocacy programs and its goal to reduce the annual rate of suicide. “There is hope and understanding, and we can all make a difference to support those affected by mental illness and those that have faced the loss of a loved one to suicide,” she said. To learn more about AFSP South Texas Chapter, email



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reaching out to people with mental disorders and those impacted by suicide. In 2012, Hinojosa-Zamora became one of the founding board members of the AFSP South Texas Chapter and serves as the fundraising and public policy chair. In her role, she’s tasked with building relationships with members of Congress and state legislators to prevent suicide. As her involvement with AFSP grew, she sought out the support of Moreno and the two finally discussed their experience with suicide and the importance of mental health and suicide awareness. “I asked Missy if she would consider chairing a local walk with me and she agreed,” Hinojosa-Zamora said. “Our inaugural walk was held on Nov. 23, 2012, and we had over 1,000 walkers participate and raised over $32,000. The Rio Grande Valley was clearly ready to talk about suicide and mental health conditions. “We officially became a chapter in October of 2015,” Hinojosa-Zamora said of the chapter that serves San Antonio, Laredo, Brownsville, Corpus Christi, and Victoria.“Currently, we’re beginning to get our programming into the community and some schools. I, myself, have gone to Washington, D.C., to talk to our congressmen about legislation that could affect suicide




A Nutritionist’s Guide to Navigating Healthy Eating During the Holiday Season



NOV/DEC 2017

by Abbey Kunkle

Fall is in the air, as much as it can be here in South Texas, and with that comes all things pumpkin spice and apple cinnamon, with eggnog waiting just around the corner! The delicious smell of baked goods wafts through the air everywhere you turn. Pastries show up at work, friends deliver sweet treats, and scrumptious pies are readily available at our favorite restaurants. With all of its wonderfulness though, the holiday season tends to present a challenge for those keeping up a healthy lifestyle. To help us out with a holiday health plan, Brownsville dietitian Sandra Betancourt, RDN/LD of Certified Nutrition Consultants, PLLC shared some helpful tips.

and bad food, just moderation. Although, it is a good idea to start each meal with your vegetables.

DRINK WATER As the weather cools down, albeit ever so slightly, we tend to drink less water than during the summer months because we don’t feel thirsty. At minimum, adults should drink 64 ounces of water each day. If you wait until you feel thirsty to reach for the water, you have already waited too long.

DARE I SAY IT? EXERCISE! Just like brushing your teeth, exercise should be a part of your daily routine. Of course, we all know that exercise is important, and there is no getting around it. Find something you love that works for you and fit it into your schedule. You won’t regret it.

REMINDER: YOU ARE NOT ON A DIET Portion control is your friend. Living a healthy lifestyle is not about restricting yourself altogether, but about making small changes each day. There is no good food



Keep in mind, once January rolls around, we will all be making resolutions to get healthy in the new year. Go ahead and get a jump on your resolution and get started with your healthy lifestyle today. You’ll find that these small daily changes will make a significant difference, and you can really enjoy the holiday season to the fullest. Make a point to be aware of how you are treating your body, and your body will thank you. Betancourt suggests that you figure the reason why you want to make a change. Some decide to make a change because a doctor says they have to do so for their health, others want to be healthy so they can be examples for their children and even their grandchildren. “You need to say, ‘this is what I want,’” Betancourt said. “It’s mind over body. Your mind will take you where your body cannot.” Sometimes her patients say it’s hard to accomplish committing to a healthy lifestyle. “Well, if it’s not hard, it’s not worth it. It’s possible — we’ll help you.”

FOR SOME MORE SPECIFIC RECOMMENDATIONS, SANDRA SUGGESTS THE FOLLOWING: Try to avoid fried foods and instead eat healthy fats like 15 almonds, ¼ cup sunflower seeds, or 25 peanuts to fill you up and give you energy. It is helpful to count or measure things out at first to get an idea of portion sizes. Once you can get used to it, you will have a better idea of what your body needs. Meals should consist of 3 ounces of protein, two servings of veggies, and one to two servings of starches. Careful with gravy! Putting a couple tablespoons of condiments like gravy and salad dressing on the side will generally help you to eat less of them. For the holidays, we love to eat pie. Make a “V” with your pointer and middle finger to determine the correct portion for your slice of pie. Also, if you decide to splurge on dessert, limit other sugars, which includes fruits and alcohol, too.

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YOUNG LIVES A Light in the Darkness for Teen Moms



NOV/DEC 2017

b y S of i a A l e m a n Holly Smith, coordinator for Hidalgo County YoungLives, is working hard to bring a program designed to help teen moms to McAllen. The YoungLives program is a ministry directed toward mentoring and supporting teen moms to continue their education, be successful and nurturing parents, and establish a sense of hope that otherwise would have been forgotten. While teen motherhood usually translates into a loss of hope for a future and is seen as a financial setback to a thriving community, YoungLives offers a place of respite, encouragement, and a sense of belonging to individuals that otherwise would not have any. “I was a young mom and I felt alone,” Smith said. “Like there was nobody else, there was no place for me. I just didn’t have a place where I fit in. And this gives the girls a place where they feel like they fit in and there are other people that are like them and that they have women who are encouraging them and reminding them of their identity in Christ. And they haven’t ruined their life. They just took a detour. It’s going to be a little bit harder, but they can be just as successful as everybody else. I think I would have really liked to have that kind of support.” The program is part of an international nonprofit, Young Life, that has offered teenagers services and camps since 1941. In 1991, the ministry saw the need to reach teen moms specifically, creating the now established ministry of YoungLives. The program aims to support young moms through one-on-one mentorship and peer support, in hopes it would lead the young women to find purpose, confidence, and an identity in Jesus Christ. So why bring YoungLives to McAllen? “I think the unique thing about YoungLives is it’s not just touching one life, it’s touching two or three or however many kids there are,” Smith said. “It’s generations to come, not just one generation. And I think these girls need a lot of support. And there’s just not a place or anything for them.” Another distinct characteristic about YoungLives is the combination of meeting the girls’ physical needs as well as their spiritual needs.

“It’s really important to help meet their needs, not just say, ‘hey, you should believe in Jesus,’ but, you know, show them what that looks like,” Smith said. “You can’t spend just five minutes with them and expect them to trust you. You have to be willing to invest time into their lives as a mentor. The girls have probably been through a lot and it’s hard to trust someone really cares about them.” According to a 2017 study published by the National Center for Health Statistics, 8 percent of all births in the U.S. are to teenagers. Texas has the third-highest teen pregnancy rate in the country. Texas Department of State Health Services figures show there were 16.5 births for every 1,000 girls from 13 to 17 years old in 2012. But the Valley has some staggering statistics of its own, leading in pregnancy rates throughout the country. According to a KGBTTV story, every county in the Valley had higher rates than the state average, some nearly double. In 2012, per 1,000 girls ages 13 to 17, Cameron County had 25 births, Hidalgo County had 24.6 births, Starr County had 30.2 births, Willacy County had 30.3 births, and Zapata County had 54.8 births. The statistics clearly indicate that a program like this is greatly needed in this area, which is heavily impacted by teen pregnancy. YoungLives strives to shift the view of these girls from burden to belief for the teen moms of McAllen. The program has been operating out of Harlingen for the past six years, and has seen great success. Over the course of 15 months in 2014-15, an independent evaluator, 3 Flights Inc., did a study to see if the behaviors and attitude of teen moms were being impacted by their participation in the program. And the data confirmed that YoungLives makes a difference. For example, because the arrival of a new baby brings many challenges, teen parents are more likely to suffer higher rates of abuse and neglect, according to a 2006 study by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. But teen moms who have a consistent and encouraging mentor through the program report feeling increased nurturing behaviors toward their



child and a stronger conviction to avoid getting pregnant again. These moms are also beating the odds when it comes to high school or college graduation. On average, only 57 percent of teen moms graduate from high school or get their GED, according to a 2010 Child Trends study, though girls new to YoungLives only have a 25 percent chance. However, after two years of participating in the program, those chances go from 25 percent to 72 percent more likely to obtain their diploma. In addition, the longer teen moms are involved, the more likely that are to say they want to seek a college degree. Teen moms often feel lonely, like they don’t belong, and overwhelmed by the challenges of motherhood, leading to risks of developing senses of depression, anxiety, and lack of purpose. But the caring acceptance of a team of people who love them, especially a caring mentor, brings them solid social support and an outlet of hope in a crisis. Giving them a place to feel like they belong is directly countering the culture’s normal view of “you ruined your life” because of being a teen mom. It instead offers caring, acceptance, understanding, purpose, and, above all, the knowledge that their problems are not what make them who they are. So how can someone help out with YoungLives? According to Smith, the immediate need of YoungLives is prayer, but also formulating a dedicated and willing committee to oversee the start of YoungLives on a McAllen high school campus.



Having committed volunteer mentors to spend consistent oneon-one time with the girls is one of the most important roles in the program. Monetary donations, as well as food or clothing donations, are also always welcomed. Starting a program like this in a place that otherwise neglected these young moms, whether consciously or subconsciously, will not only impact the lives of these teens and children, but our community as whole. Here’s giving thanks to the people who are working hard to speak out on behalf of the voiceless. “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (New International Version, Proverbs 31:8-9). For more information on the program or how you can get involved, contact Holly Smith, YoungLives coordinator, Hidalgo County, at or visit the website

NOV/DEC 2017

The program is part of an international nonprofit, Young Life, that has offered teenagers services and camps since 1941.





NOV/DEC 2017


s to r y b y D a vi d Al va r a d o | p h o t os b y Da v i d A l v a r a d o a n d D om i n i q u e Z m u d a 70

“Everything I do in the ring I love because the people love it just as much. I’m a wrestler who puts his heart and soul above the ring. I want to keep working and fighting to become an idol for the people.” Carístico, l u c h a d o r




There’s nothing quite like a Saturday night fight at South Texas Fighting Academy. This boxing gym and fight venue in Mission is the place to see one of the Rio Grande Valley’s most raucous and dramatic sporting events: Lucha Libre. The History of Lucha Libre is intertwined with the history of Mexico, mass media, and entertainment. In Mexico and other Latin American countries, its massive following has made it the most popular sport after soccer as well as an integral part of pop culture and art. “Lucha Libre is exciting and fantastic entertainment for all Latinos living in the United States,” said Jesus Gabriel Aleman, also known as Dakota. Aleman organizes and runs Lucha Libre via his company, DAK Promociones. “It opens the world of Lucha Libre to so many people and gives families another option for entertainment on a Saturday night.” Lucha Libre caters to the Latin-American wrestling fans who yearn for something colorful, extravagant and fun for


the whole family. This style of wrestling attracts quite a number of sports enthusiasts of all ages here in the Rio Grande Valley. The history of Lucha Libre goes back 75 years and echoes back to the Mexica (Aztec) people native to modern day Mexico. A popular part of a Mexican wrestler’s persona is his or her máscara, or Lucha Libre mask. The elaborate designs of a luchador’s mask are meant to evoke the power of animals, gods and other ancient heroes. The luchador takes on that identity and the mask is so sacred that to wager and lose one’s mask in a fight is considered a disgrace. Using the ropes, luchadores catapult themselves through the air and stop their opponents with a combination of punches, kicks, grappling moves, and various submission holds. Women

are also fans, especially since female athletes can be pitted against male athletes. One of DAK Promociones’ regular fighters is Swetty, who has been in the ring for eight years. Becoming a luchadora was an upheaval for her life because, as somebody who considered herself to be shy and reserved, she was not used to performing in front of people and was even less used to the criticisms and trash talk from the crowd. “Once you have the mask on, you become somebody else and you just enjoy yourself. You're in front of people and you have to enjoy what the people give you,” said Swetty, who fought her debut match in Monterrey, Mexico. “It’s always been a goal of mine to do Lucha Libre on TV.”


“The best memory I have is from my grandmother's house where there is a picture of my grandfather fighting with El Santo. It's amazing to me that years have passed and my uncle, El Halcón de Oro, has a picture with the same pose with El Hijo del Santo.” Swetty, lu chador a



“In Mexico, Lucha Libre is where it’s at, that’s where people see the glitz and the glamour,” Aleman said. “It takes a lot of work and devotion to organize these events for the public and for the luchador, you have to be a trained athlete and in superb condition to perform these moves.” Aleman’s father, a luchador by the name of El Indio, whom he named the championship cup after, would take him to shows every weekend. Much like the children who attend the fights he now organizes, Aleman would jump into the ring in between fights and have a good time. “I can’t wait for people here in the Rio Grande Valley to check out these luchadores,” he said. “It really is for the whole family.”

NOV/DEC 2017

p h ot o b y Rob e r t o C or t e z


For most fighters, Lucha Libre is a family affair. It started with Swetty’s grandfather, then her uncle El Halcón de Oro, a well-known wrestler. Her mom (La Hija del Sarcey) and her uncle (El Hijo del Sarcey) soon joined the fray. “The best memory I have is from my grandmother's house where there is a picture of my grandfather fighting with El Santo,” Swetty said. “It's amazing to me that years have passed and my uncle, El Halcón de Oro, has a picture with the same pose with El Hijo del Santo.” El Hijo del Santo is the youngest son of the legendary El Santo, one of the most successful stars in Lucha Libre and a Mexican folk hero who has starred in many Mexican films. Having already won the loyalty of generations of fans of all ages throughout Latin America, Lucha Libre is conquering the Hispanic majority audiences in the Rio Grande Valley through DAK Promociones and its unique spin on the art of wrestling and larger-than-life personalities of its Lucha Libre stars. To capture an even larger audience, Aleman brings in well-known wrestlers in the Lucha Libre circuit such as Carístico. Previously known as Místico, Carístico has previously performed in the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) and is currently appearing in the Lucha Libre promotion Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL), where he has been the main storyline hero since 2006 and was at one point the biggest box office draw in all of Mexico. “Everything I do in the ring I love because the people love it just as much. I’m a wrestler who puts his heart and soul above the ring,” said Carístico before his highly anticipated fight at South Texas Fighting Academy in midOctober. “I want to keep working and fighting to become an idol for the people.” For Carístico, it’s always been an honor to perform in any fight. In the few years that Carístico has been fighting, he has accomplished what many fighters devote 20 to 30 years to doing. It’s his passion for the fight that puts him above all other fighters and he ultimately hopes to become a legend like many luchadores before him.


La Cultura de la Pulga



NOV/DEC 2017

by Da vid A lva r a d o | p h o to s D o mi ni q ue Z muda On any given Sunday morning, you can drive along Expressway 83 and spot several of the Rio Grande Valley’s most frequented flea markets. These flea markets, more commonly referred to as pulgas, are staples of the RGV and offer buyers and sellers the opportunity to find the best food, music, and deals on produce during any weekend of the year. Almost every major city in the Valley has its own flea market. The aroma of elotes rostizados and tacos de bistek fill the air as flea market staff direct drivers and pedestrians onto the dirt parking lots. As a child, I spent almost every other weekend among the small business owners and cooks who set up their stalls to try to earn a living at the Mercedes and Alamo flea market, the latter being arguably the busiest and largest flea market in the Upper Valley. Some of my most vivid memories of my childhood include Dallas Cowboy-themed snakeskin boots, caged rabbits and birds, and colorfully fluorescent quinceañera dresses hung from the roofs of the stalls next to soccer jerseys. The best part was knowing we’d eventually get to eat some espiropapas, hot Cheetos with cheese and

perhaps a torta as we walked through the crowded lanes looking for hand-me-down toys or bootleg movies. Almost nothing has changed at the Mercadome Alamo Flea Market and Dance Hall aside from the construction of several new rows of booths made from metal as opposed to the traditional wood in the southeast section. This particular flea market can draw upward of 35,000 people a month. Nency Rodriguez has had her name on the waiting list for months prior to opening her piñata store in the pulga’s newest section earlier this year. “I’m very proud of my piñatas,” said Rodriguez, a mother of four who creates Disney’s “Frozen,” “Moana,” and “Sesame Street” themed pinatas herself. “I live in San Juan and we all used to come to the pulga and help out my mom and dad with his frutería.” Like many people from the Rio Grande Valley, she spent many a weekend at the pulga. It reminded her of her grandparents and early childhood growing up in her native Saltillo, a city near Monterrey in Mexico. When walking around, one quickly realizes that Spanish is the main language spoken because the pulga’s primary





NOV/DEC 2017

attendees are from just across the border. "It's like a tradition for many families to pass their time at flea markets,” said Lupita Sanchez, who runs Tortas Reynosa with her daughter, Josephina Sanchez, at the Alamo pulga. Like many establishments in the Valley, Mexican nationals and Mexican-Americans alike come to the pulga because they know vendors speak Spanish, play music, and serve the same food as back home. “There are a lot of Mexicans here in the U.S. who have most of their family back home," Sanchez said. “Instead of spending their weekends at home, they’ll come to the pulga and pass the time with others at the dance hall or maybe set up a stall on the weekends.” In the Mexican-American community, the pulga is filled with secondhand goods and artisanal products that echo the values of Mexico. On the surface, one may think a pulga feels cheap or low quality, but the Alamo pulga is filled with culture and goods that the community cherishes. At the heart of each pulga is the vendor, whose specialty is to reel you in to try and buy. You can witness how things are made with love and care. The items at the market speak out about what is important to each family. While some in our society may view the items as second class, they are in fact first class items to many others.


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NOV/DEC 2017




TEXANS HELPING TEXANS Hurricane Harvey Reminds Us of What It Means to be Texas Proud b y I r e n e Wa z g ows k a

Hurricane Harvey made landfall Aug. 25 on the Texas coast. The hurricane was expected to hit the Rio Grande Valley, but made a last-minute curve up the coastal line. While we were fortunate to not have been part of the path of destruction, we as a community — and a state — felt its power. Here in the Valley, we opened our doors and hearts to friends, loved ones, and acquaintances. Many people lost their homes and everything they had spent years to work for. But it wasn’t the material objects that mattered, it was the desire to bring back normalcy, to have a home — something we often take for granted. We witnessed their loss, saw their pain, and knew that we needed to join forces to help bring relief.

knowing that people from all over Texas (were) going out of their way to help people,” he said. “We were handing out water supplies and food, whatever we could possibly do.”

One of the teams to mobilize was the RGV Mud & Sand Recovery, a local group of 26,815 Facebook members, who make themselves available at a moment’s notice to help others in need of mobile recovery. Joel Hernandez, a member of the group, led the convoy up to the Rockport area. He said that the “days were long, it was raining” and that the area was “still getting outer band of the hurricane. It was total destruction.” In the face of devastation, “it was a sigh of relief



Local recovery group bands together


The RGV community reached out to the American Red Cross of South Texas, and in 10 days, the organization recruited and trained 500 volunteers. These individuals were prepared for a 14-day deployment to the affected areas in order to relieve human suffering during a catastrophic hurricane. “The compassion shared between Valley natives demonstrates a strong sense of community within the great state of Texas,” said Danella Hughes, executive director for American Red Cross of South Texas. “As Texans, we all gravitate to becoming close neighbors throughout the entire state.” The Red Cross saw the outpouring of everyone wanting to put together donation drives and helping in any way that they could. During the worst days of the hurricane, Hughes received 10 to 15 calls a day from people and organizations who wanted to provide relief. “Texans always helping Texans,” she said.

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The Valley shows its heart


deployment of H-E-B’s Mobile Kitchens and Disaster Relief Units. Tovar noted that on Sept. 6, the H-E-B Emergency Response Team was mobilizing its Disaster Relief Units and H-E-B Mobile Kitchens to redeploy on the Gulf Coast. She noted that hundreds of partner volunteers continue to support in areas throughout the Gulf Coast and Houston, helping with store recovery and community relief efforts. These partner teams handed out truckloads of supplies, including more than 40,000 hot meals; 75 truckloads or 150,000 cases of water; 21 truckloads or 75,600 bags of ice; and 4,000 bags of cat and dog food to people in devastated communities including Beaumont, Houston, Refugio, Victoria, Rockport and Aransas Pass.



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Bert Ogden leads the way with #fillthetruck

When the Bert Ogden Auto Group found their team concerned about the their fellow Texans, they quickly joined forces with UTRGV and the Red Cross to put together a donation drive. A 47-second Facebook video post of Natasha del Barrio (CEO) and Robert Lucio (COO) quickly went viral and by that Saturday, hundreds of donations were pouring in. The team started with four 18-wheelers that were provided by Valley Trucking Company Inc. in Brownsville, but it didn’t take long for them to fill the trucks — they had to add three more. “It was a special moment,” del Barrio said. “I was very proud of our community.” Lucio reflected on how customers would come to purchase a car and bring with them five to 10 cases of water. He was moved by how many people wanted to help, and was overwhelmed by the support. Linda Tovar, senior manager of Public Affairs at H-E-B, heard about the Bert Ogden effort, and reached out to provide guidance. “Linda is so engaged and so giving to the community,” del Barrio said. “She was able to offer a lot of good advice.” Another member of the Bert Ogden Auto Group, Johnny Rodriguez, head of public relations, was reminded about how difficult times bring out the best in people. He saw the volunteers who came together for the #fillthetruck event, and was moved by the outpour of support. “You know, hard times don’t create heroes,” he said. “It is during the hard times when the ‘hero’ within us is revealed.”

“You know, hard times don’t create heroes. It is during the hard times when the ‘hero’ within us is revealed.” J oh n n y Rod r i g u e z , Bert Ogden Au to G rou p h ead of

pu blic relation s

Shortly after Hurricane Harvey hit, Hurricane Irma struck Florida. More people suffered, homes were lost, and areas were left in ruin. Following the U.S. coastal hurricanes, Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, causing even more damage; thousands of people are working to recover from the unprecedented devastation. Hernandez, from the RGV Mud & Sand Recovery, is a Florida native and has family and friends in Miami. “Luckily Miami didn’t get really hard,” he said, but the Florida Keys are “completely demolished, obliterated.” It will take time, years, to recover and to rebuild.

Statewide effort

By Sept. 5, H-E-B’s Hurricane Harvey disaster relief efforts had approached $3 million in monetary commitments, support of emergency shelters across the state, food bank donations, volunteers, and the



Considering the future

The Valley has shown its dedication to helping the relief efforts here in Texas. We understand how lucky we are to not have incurred the destruction of Hurricane Harvey, and have embraced this opportunity to help improve the lives of others. As we to look to the future, we are advised to always heed public announcements for necessary preparations and evacuations. We have witnessed the powerful forces of nature, and must use our strength as a community to support those who were affected by the recent hurricanes.

Some organizations for consideration: Red Cross United Way Houston GHCF Disaster Hurricane Harvey Fund for Rockport Fulton of Texas

For those who want to continue to help, there are a number of ways to contribute. Ask your local relief organizations, and reach out to larger organizations like the Red Cross or Habitat for Humanity. Monetary donations are continuing to be accepted, and are often the easiest means to provide help, as there are no shipping costs and physical logistic concerns.



NOV/DEC 2017


Ways to help



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NOV/DEC 2017






We sat down with artist Manuel Zamudio while he was working on one of his latest projects, a mural representative of Mission located inside of the Center for Education and Economic Development (CEED) Building in Mission. Born in Mexico City, Zamudio was raised in the Rio Grande Valley from the age of 5. He gave us insight into his creative process, background, and inspiration. Zamudio’s work will be featured in an upcoming exhibition hosted by Arca México at the Museo del Tequila and Mezcal (MUTEM) in Mexico City, D.F., on Dec. 8.

RGVision Magazine: How would you describe your work? Manuel Zamudio: My work would be described as pop surrealist, low brow, with a hint of urban graffiti, although personally I'm not one for specific labels. R: How long have you been doing this for? MZ: I’ve been making art at a more serious level for about six years. R: Why art? MZ: I have never given myself another option. It's always been art for me. Even at a very young age.

R: What is your educational background? MZ: Self-taught artist. A formal college education was never

R: What inspires your work? MZ: It's hard to narrow it down. What I find inspiring are the

R: Do you have a favorite piece that you’ve done?


MZ: I do not, but there is a particular piece which took me a


mysteries of life — from something as simple as picking up a book on UFOs off my father’s bookshelf while being very young to something as introspective or difficult as death and religion. I find inspiration on a multitude of subjects.

NOV/DEC 2017

an option. What I didn't teach myself, I picked up from fellow artists on the way.

few months to complete. It was actually the centerpiece for my recent solo show.

R: How often do you create? MZ: I try to create everyday, although I do fall into artist’s block on occasion. Which I hate.




R: How do you overcome creative ruts?

50 to 60 hours working on it and probably have another 30 hours to go. My good friend Alan Taylor West is making a timelapse film tracking my progress.

MZ: I don't believe there is just one answer for this. What I try to do and works for me at times is engulfing myself in a certain subject matter I find inspiring. Read everything I can on the subject or subjects. Watch whatever documentaries I can on the subject, etc. Until I'm inspired to keep working.

R: Tell us about your art aside from murals. What are you currently working on? What’s your prefered media?

MZ: I’m currently working on small pieces painted on

R: How do you approach your work? What is your process?

wooden blocks. As for media, oil paint and spray paint. They go hand in hand. Each medium teaches you about the other.

MZ: When I start in-depth paintings, what comes first is a sketch or an illustration, from that comes the color palette, highlights and lowlights. As far as subject matter, it really comes from whatever I'm fond of or researching at the time.

R: Are murals or large scale projects something you do a

R: What advice would you give someone who is thinking

an acceptance of it here in the Valley yet. Cristina Garza and Alex Meade of the Mission EDC have provided a lot of opportunities to create large scale works. I’ve completed about 20 murals in the past five years.

lot of?

MZ: Not as much as I would like. There isn’t as much of

about becoming an artist?



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MZ: My most important advice for someone who is seriously wanting to push forward as an artist is: Just do it and don't take negative opinions from anyone. We live in a culture where wanting to be an artist can come off negative or wasteful. Do what fulfills your passion and put everything you have into it.

R: What is your dream project? MZ: My dream project would definitely have to be a very large scale mural project, which would cover most cities in the Valley. I really do think the Valley could use lots of color in form of contemporary/street art murals. I’d love to show at some of my favorite galleries, including Thinkspace and The Seventh Letter out of LA.

R: Name three of your favorite artists. MZ: At the moment I would have to say Charlie Immer, Ridley Scott, Harry Bones.

R: Tell us about the mural project you are currently working

To learn more about the work of Manuel Zamudio, visit his website at and his Instagram account @raid_33.

on at the CEED Building. What is it about, how long have you been working on it, and what materials are you using?

MZ: My goal was to portray a simple, modern take on the history of Mission. Not taking anything away from the historical aspect of Kika de la Garza, just putting a fresh coat on it. Making it modern, colorful, and new. The media I’m using is acrylic and spray paint. I’ve already spent about


RGVision Magazine: How would you describe your work?

R: Why art?

Josie Del Castillo: My most recent work consists

JDC: I’ve been drawing as long as I can remember, probably

of portraits and figurative paintings of people that I am familiar with. The aspects that I consider when it comes

of the age of 5 or 6. I always took art classes from elementary to high school, and it was until I attended a university where



to painting my subjects are: physical features, personality, and personal accomplishments. I compose these paintings by placing figures in front of abstract backgrounds, so one can appreciate both the contemporary realism and the aesthetics of both color and texture. My work also focuses on the journey of self-acceptance, and the appreciation of our roots and our culture.


A Brownsville native, artist Josie Del Castillo has been included in various exhibitions across the Rio Grande Valley including both Brownsville and Harlingen Art Walks, as well as Galeria 409’s “Hot Hot Hot” exhibit, which displayed work from emerging artists all over the Valley and Matamoros. We spoke with Del Castillo to gain insight into her vibrant world of painting.

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I decided to continue higher education in studio art. I believe art is a universal language, one doesn’t have to explain it, just look at it, interact with it, touch it, and feel it. I have always struggled explaining myself, and my paintings have become my voice. All my emotions, both positive and negative, are painted on the wood panels, and I hope that the audience it able to feel them. I believe if I evoked someone with my art I have succeeded.

work at home, so the work that I produce is limited to small studies.

R: How do you approach your work? What is your process? JDC: It varies, but all of them eventually lead to the same

R: What is your educational background? JDC: I earned a Bachelor in Art at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in fall 2016, and I am currently pursuing a master in fine arts degree. R: What inspires your work?



NOV/DEC 2017

JDC: The people that I know, my culture, aesthetics and emotions, and of course other contemporary artists of today. R: Do you have a favorite piece that you’ve done? JDC: There are a couple of pieces that I am pretty attached to. The first one is a portrait of my grandfather that I gifted to him on his birthday, months before he passed away. I decided to make that portrait of him in a larger scale, 4 feet by 4 feet, to show him how important he was to my family and everybody that knew him. I believe I captured his essence, and that to me is something that I am truly proud of. The other one is a nude self-portrait. As someone who has always dealt with low self-esteem, I decided to paint myself in that manner to learn to appreciate my body, as well to help boost the confidence of other girls who also have low self-esteem or no confidence in themselves.

R: How often do you create?

process. If I first have a person that I want to paint, I start taking pictures of them in different poses until I find an image that I like. I usually always work with wood panels, so from there I start brainstorming on what background I would want to experiment with. I move back and forth with the figure and background, but I try to finish the background first and then the figure. Once I am developing the figure I start off very simple by just applying mid tones, then once the paint starts to dry off, I develop it with glazes and cleaner details. Basically, refining the figure until I execute the skin tones and details to where I want them to be. One of the steps I leave till the end is developing the hair. I enjoy painting hair by hair with a small but long brush by adding distinct colors that are not necessarily in the hair and highlights.

R: What is your dream project? JDC: Public art/murals. Eventually I would like to create art for the community by painting murals or create interactive installations. I’ve done one mural and one public art piece. I would definitely like to work with other artists and the city more. R: Name 3 of your favorite artists? JDC: I have too many, but the first must be Jenny Morgan followed by Eric Jones and Sarah Joncas. R: How do you overcome creative ruts? JDC: I am always looking at artwork on social media, there’s tons of inspiration everywhere, so I am always inspired by other people's work. If I am truly stuck with a piece, I’ll move on to another one. I learned that is better to work with two pieces at a time rather than just one. While you’re focusing

JDC: Well since I’ve been going to school for the past six years, I try to create as much work as I can in the facilities that are offered. About four to five pieces every semester. Unfortunately, during the summer, I don’t have the space to


R: How long have you been doing this for? JDC: Once I started taking advance courses at UTRGV (back then UTB), I started becoming more serious about my work and wanting to create pieces that can be entered in competitions and shows. So, for the past four years. R: What advice would you give someone who is thinking about becoming an artist?

To learn more about Josie Del Castillo’s work, visit her Instagram account @josieleila.

JDC: You should give it your all, you should be serious about it, and it requires a lot of your time. It all depends on how



far you want to take it. A lot of people get discouraged of pursuing a career as a professional artist especially in the RGV, since the only job they can acquire is to become a teacher. Even if they do go that pathway, they should continue to produce work no matter what. Lastly, I encourage them to become active in the community as well as support other local artists. Once you start attending art shows, galleries, and other local events, you’ll meet other local artists, and it will open windows to better opportunities.


on the second piece, your mind should be clear when you go back to the first one.

NOV/DEC 2017



SHARY MUNICIPAL GOLF COURSE - MISSION, TX Shary Municipal Golf Course is a 27-hole golf course with a full-service driving range that is open every day except for Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day. This relatively large course is challenging due to the narrow fairways lined by outof-bounds markers and water hazards impacting several holes. The signature hole for the small course is a 355-yard par four that features an approach shot over water to the green. The golf course is the number one tourist attraction for the City of Mission during the winter months. For more information, call (956) 5808770 or visit



TIERRA DEL SOL GOLF CLUB - PHARR, TX Tierra Del Sol Golf Club is owned and operated by the City of Pharr and is a very traditional and straightforward 18 holes. The course offers fantastic views of the wildlife and ecology of the Rio Grande Valley as well as challenging play for golfers at every skill level. Tierra Del Sol is a great choice for regular rounds of golf or a new destination for you and a few buddies when visiting Pharr. For information, call (956) 402-4545 or visit

by Da vid A lva r a do


The warm subtropical climate of the Rio Grande Valley welcomes golfers from around the United States to one of the few regions in the country where golf is played nearly 365 days a year. In fact, according to a poll by the National Golf Foundation, the Rio Grande Valley has more playable days of golf per year than anywhere else in the United States. The mild winters are what draw Winter Texans to the Rio Grande Valley, and while some golf five to six days a week and others just a couple of days a month, there are enough golf courses with different skill levels to meet the needs of everyone who wants to play. Below are some of the most popular golf courses the RGV has to offer:

Not far from Harlingen, the Tony Butler Golf Course is a 27-hole facility complete with driving range, putting, and chipping greens. The course meanders through the natural South Texas terrain and is quite pleasant to walk or drive through in your golf cart. The 18-hole course is a championship layout measuring 6,400 yards (par 71) featuring Champions Ultra-Dwarf Bermuda greens. For information, call (956) 216-5970 or visit

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND GOLF CLUB - SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, TX South Padre Island Golf Club, located off the lower Laguna Madre in Laguna Vista, is a semi-private golf course that is open to the public and ranked among the highest in the golf course survey among the Winter Texan-friendly courses. It has a stretch of five holes, driving range, and practice greens that run parallel to the Laguna Madre with par three, signature hole #3 looking across the water to South Padre Island and the Queen Isabella Causeway. It’s worth noting that the breeze coming from the ocean can create a challenge for even seasoned golfers. For information, call (956) 943-3622 or visit

The Monte Cristo Golf and Country Club in Edinburg is considered by many to be a hidden gem in Texas. The Valley’s climate has helped create a picturesque setting for this 18Hole Championship Golf Course, complete with two swimming pools, tennis courts, a driving range, a putting practice green, and a clubhouse with a fine dining restaurant and bar. For more information, call (956) 381-0964 or visit



NOV/DEC 2017



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Some of the local programs include providing transportation to and from appointments, offering free wigs, and organizing makeup classes specially tailored to women coping with the side effects of cancer treatments. Andrea Sierra Salazar, a first-year college student and cancer survivor who was this year’s Cattle Baron’s Ball honoree, understands firsthand how important ACS programs can be. “I myself went to one of their makeup classes and it was really beautiful to get to interact with other women who were going through something as similar as I was and share stories,” she said. For many at the event, the fight against cancer was personal. “This is close to my heart,” said Laura Peña, another co-chair of the ball whose family has a history of cancer. “I want to do whatever I can to help patients that are currently suffering from cancer and patients that are in remission.” Susan Rodriguez, senior manager for community development for the ACS, has also been touched by cancer. Her mother is a 17year breast cancer survivor, and her father succumbed to pancreatic cancer. “It’s my way to not only give back but also educate people on how to take care of themselves and to make sure that you get early detection because that can make a huge difference in the outcome,” she said of her work with the ACS. The Cattle Baron’s Ball was a way for the entire community to come together. In addition to food, drinks, and live music, a silent auction featuring everything from gift baskets filled with boots, purses, and jewelry to vouchers for yoga classes and salon trips tempted revelers. “Supporting Cattle Baron’s is one of our most important critical missions that we want to do,” said Linda Tovar, H-E-B’s senior manager of public affairs. H-E-B was one of the event’s sponsors. “We’re a longstanding partner and we truly believe in their mission and their vision and we’re excited to be here.” Organizers said they hoped the Cattle Baron’s Ball would continue to grow with each year. “I’d like to encourage everyone to support this event whether it’s this year or in future years,” said Drew Lentz, another co-chair. “Anything you can do to give back, nothing is too small.” Learn more about the American Cancer Society at

BOOTS AND BLOSSOMS Valley Raises Cancer Awareness Funds at Cattle Baron’s Ball



NOV/DEC 2017

by Amy C a sebier | p h o to s b y Kevi n Ma r ti nez

Fringe and spangles met denim and cowboy boots all to the tune of a little country twang during the 21st annual Cattle Baron’s Ball of the RGV, held Sept. 9 at Boggus Ford Events Center in Pharr. The event serves as a yearly fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. “It’s been a longtime staple here in the Valley,” said Clara Chapa, community development manager for the ACS. “This event really brings awareness to the local community regarding cancer and cancer prevention. Also, it makes people aware of the local programs the American Cancer Society provides.” With each Cattle Baron’s Ball netting about $200,000 each year, Chapa said, the monetary impact of the event in the area is well into the millions. That money not only goes toward cancer treatment research, it also supports programs that benefit cancer patients and their families in the RGV. “When you say American Cancer Society, people assume that’s a national company,” said Jessica Lentz, one of the co-chairs for this year’s event. “They don’t want to necessarily contribute because it’s not a local charity and that’s where they’re so wrong because ACS does so much for our local community.” 92

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November / December 2017 - RGVision Magazine