Author Archives: Chris Ardis

Chris Ardis is a retired teacher. She is a freelance writer, editor, and social media manager and works with Tony Roma's and Macaroni Grill to help schools and nonprofit organizations raise money. Chris is also an education blogger, and you can her blog at the link below. You can reach her at cardis1022@aol.com.

Overcoming Adversity for a Better VIDA

Eva Alvarado

When the staff at Valley Initiative for Development and Advancement think of Eva Alvarado, two words come to mind: perseverance and resilience. Alvarado is a divorced mother of three, two who are adults and now live on their own. Her youngest, a 14-year-old son, lives with her in Brownsville. Two years ago, her youngest was diagnosed with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, dyslexia and autism. Alvarado quit working because he required all…

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Using 956 Designs To Send Positivity

Part of Dalinda Gonzalez-Alcantar’s original “956” design with two of her latest designs, Sacred Reina and Justicia.

Dalinda Gonzalez-Alcantar felt the frustration growing during the 2015 presidential campaign as she listened to depictions of the Rio Grande Valley. During that time, she tuned into a National Public Radio series about the border. “Obese, crime-infested, dirty. It wasn’t the home I’ve known,” Gonzalez-Alcantar said of the descriptions of her region. “This is why we haven’t given ourselves permission to be proud of where we live. We have a right…

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Path Leads to Becoming the IT It Guy

Jose Cavazos

When Jose Cavazos’s co-worker at Barcom Technology Services in Harlingen told him they had a service call at the Valley Initiative for Development and Advancement office in Mercedes, he felt a sense of both nostalgia and excitement. Cavazos had considered stopping in VIDA’s former office in Weslaco several times, but it was always closed by the time he got out of work. “As soon as we walked into the building,”…

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Student Project Helps Women In Need

The front side of Knitted Knockers, which come in different sizes based on the woman’s bra-cup size.

McAllen ISD International Baccalaureate junior Gaby Markle learned to crochet during the summer of 2020.  “My grandma tried to teach me, but I am left-handed, so she gave me a book and a link to a YouTube video to learn,” Markle said. “I was not very good, so I wanted to create a club to improve and to get others involved.”  Rather than establishing an official school club, which means…

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From Catch-22 To A Successful Career

Sometimes life plunges us into a classic catch-22. That is exactly where Cesar Romero found himself. Working as a nurse technician, Romero was earning $11 an hour. In order to increase his income, he applied to the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Learning that the program required full-time-student status peppered his joy at being accepted. He could not afford to pay…

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McAllen Business Inspired By Prayer & Service

The smiles on the faces of Jeanie Rowell and Ann Gamblin of The Lamb’s Loom in McAllen say it all. This little piece of heaven is, indeed, their Happy Place.

In thinking of entrepreneurs, we usually envision individuals who take on the risk of establishing a business because they have a product or service, which they believe potential customers want, knowing if they are correct it will lead to personal financial gain. The ladies who established The Lamb’s Loom felt the same way, though the personal gain they sought had nothing to do with money. For 14 years, these ladies…

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One Door Closes, Another VIDA Opens

Etta King has a better life for her and her children thanks in part to VIDA.

Life was good for Etta King when she moved to Weslaco in 2011 from Lake Tahoe, Cali. Five years later, her world turned upside down. Her husband left, creditors repossessed her car and eviction forced her to move from their home to a small apartment. With no money, she had to attend divorce court without legal representation. Her only family in the Valley consisted of her two sons and daughter.…

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Edinburg Agent Perseveres Through Challenges

Priscilla Cavazos took her first job in the insurance industry at the age of 18, not imagining herself one day owning her own agency.

When 18-year-old Priscilla Cavazos walked through the doors of Fred Loya Insurance in 2003 to begin her new job, little did she know that 18 years later, she would walk into another insurance office every day.  This office is in Edinburg and bears her name – Priscilla Cavazos Insurance Agency. At the time, Cavazos also did not realize the role that first insurance job would play in shaping her future.…

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A Life Is Turned Around with VIDA

Maria Delgado

Each month, VBR shines a spotlight on a current participant or a graduate of Valley Initiative for Development and Advancement. VIDA’s mission is to simultaneously address the need for skilled works in the Valley while preparing unemployed and underemployed residents for high-skill, high-wage jobs. This month, the spotlight is on Maria Delgado. The story is written in her words just prior to her graduation in December 2020, which will provide…

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Entrepreneur Finds Inspiration In Faith 

The Milagros are pinned to crosses, religious statues, hearts and other forms, and each charm symbolizes a specific request of saints.

Mari Rodriguez accepted a job with Central Power and Light and moved to the Rio Grande Valley in 1994. She thought it would be only for a year. Her plan did not include meeting a pharmacist from San Antonio named Cecilio who had also moved to the Valley. Mari would not return to Corpus Christi, where she lived previously. Mari and Cecilio would walk down the aisle. The couple then…

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