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

McAllen Pitches Youth World Series 

The 2021 PONY Softball International World Series Travel Select Tournament - College Showcase Pinto 8U division winners and runners up with their coaches. (Courtesy, PONY Softball)

Windmills don’t normally dot the landscape of McAllen, but for four days this July, they will be in full swing when pitchers take the mound at the 2022 PONY Softball International World Series Travel Select Tournament – College Showcase. That’s a mighty long name, but this is a mighty big deal. “We will have teams from Mexico, possibly Australia, Louisiana, New Mexico, San Diego and across Texas,” said Debbie Falcon,…

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VIDA Boosts Mom’s Nursing Dream to Reality

Earning $2.13 per hour plus tips as a server at Texas Roadhouse in Brownsville made it difficult for single mom Itssen Izaguirre to meet all of her financial obligations. This was especially true when she decided to pursue a career in nursing. Nursing had sparked her interest in middle school and Izaguirre felt the time had come to pursue it. “I knew there was a shortage of nurses,” Izaguirre said,…

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Agency Provides Services For Deaf In RGV

Members of the Silver Silent Seniors Program from the Corpus Christi and McAllen Deaf and Hard of Hearing Centers joined Center staff and interpreter interns from South Texas College and The University of Texas Pan American at the RGV Livestock Show and Rodeo March 11. (Photo courtesy of Marla Martinez.)

Driving down Pecan Boulevard in McAllen, you may miss the homelike office bearing the sign “DHHC.” The Deaf and Hard of Hearing Center is one of two in Region 11, which covers 22 counties from Corpus Christi to Laredo.  “In Hidalgo County alone, over 200,000 residents have hearing loss,” said Marla Martinez, the deaf and hard-of-hearing access specialist and center coordinator in the Rio Grande Valley. The DHHC provides a…

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Finding Another Family In VIDA

Vanessa Mendoza

Pharr resident Vanessa Mendoza’s parents did not have the opportunity to go to college and get their “dream careers.” However, she said, they stressed the importance of college to their children. “My parents were humble and gave us what we needed,” Mendoza said. “They motivated me and my siblings to do well in school so we would be able to go to college to have a good job and a…

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Couple’s Business Promotes Wellness Via Dripping

ThrIVe RN Jessica Romero with owners Aleck and Crystal Rios prior to the preparation of a client’s IV drip.

Aleck Rios and Crystal Curiel had no idea fate would steal the show when they met six years ago. Crystal owned a spa and a swimwear/lingerie boutique in Brownsville at the time. She was also selling insurance. Aleck was living in McAllen and owned Corazon Health Care Services. Aleck and Crystal joined mutual friends for dinner after the show and talked for hours. Within two weeks of meeting, Aleck told…

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Mercedes RN Stayed The Course With VIDA

Angela Saenz

Life looked good for Angela Saenz of Mercedes. She had earned the title of licensed vocational nurse and had a job in the field. “Going to college was something that was always embedded in me by my parents because they didn’t get to go to college,” Saenz said. She realized the value of having parents who instilled in her the importance of education. Saenz also understood how fortunate she was…

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Takos Find A Footing & Success In McAllen

The west wall inside Nuri reads “FOOD FOR THE PEOPLE” and features a pictorial history of the business.

Gabriel Fuentes attended PSJA High School where his father, Edgar, led the band. After graduating, he headed to Houston for college, working part time at a popular restaurant. It was where Gabriel got his first taste of cooking. He savored it. “Life happened,” he said, and college and cooking were traded for construction. Fuentes opened a company in Houston before eventually returning to Alamo. He stayed in the construction business. An…

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Seeing Good In Life After Great Loss

These Bananas & Ice Cream scoops were the first Denise and Marshall Eason made in late summer 2016 with their “lucky dozen” ice-cream churners Marshall found in an end-of-season sale.

When Denise Sandoval met Marshall Eason in the hallways of McAllen High School, she didn’t realize it was fate.  Denise moved to McAllen from Monterrey at age 9, already fluent in English and Spanish. Her mom’s first language was English, having been raised in Chicago until she was 13 and her parents decided to return to Mexico. Her father had left his native country to serve in WWII, deciding later…

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Another Journey Begins With VIDA

Mariana Lozano

Growing up, Donna resident Mariana Lozano watched how hard her parents worked and yet how they struggled just to make ends meet. As she watched, she made plans. Her plans were to finish college so she could help them as her family’s first college graduate. “A friend told me I needed to apply to VIDA,” Lozano said.  VIDA is the Valley Initiative for Development and Advancement. The nonprofit organization was…

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