The Weslaco Area Chamber of Commerce‘s Leadership Mid Valley is celebrating 15 years. The eight-month program seeks to both identify and motivate emerging leaders. It also develops potential for community leadership by exposing participants to the realities, opportunities and issues the community may face.
Leadership Mid Valley consists of monthly meetings that focus on one particular industry or topic. These include agriculture, history, healthcare, economics, media and more. In addition, each class is responsible for organizing a fundraiser and class project. The goal is to introduce current and potential leaders to the needs of the Mid Valley. It also equips them for community involvement and service. Many of the participants go on to serve as volunteer board members of various local organizations.
Evolving with time
“As the RGV continues to evolve, LMV does too, now focused not only on the Mid Valley, but it also gives insight to the growth of our region and the economic impact the Rio Grande Valley has not only on the state of Texas, but also at the federal level,” says Raquel Limas, LMV XIII and chairwoman elect of the Leadership Mid Valley Board. “With the nation’s eyes on the border, we provide local emerging Mid-Valley leaders an education of the successes and problems our region face, changing the perspective of life on the border.”
Connecting and reconnecting
For current class participant Maria Belmares, owner of Designer Zoo Closet Exchange in Weslaco, Leadership Mid Valley was an opportunity to become reconnected with her community.
“I’m from Weslaco, but then moved away for six years,” remarked Maria. “I came back, and I wanted to do more, meet more people, do something for the community.”
At the start of the program every September, a class retreat allows the group members to get to know each other through a variety of ice breakers and team building exercises. Leadership Mid Valley alumni were present at this year’s retreat to share their own experiences and feelings about the program. This solidified Maria’s choice to become involved.
“They described [Leadership Mid Valley] as life changing and I knew it obviously means a lot because we’re hearing it from all these different people,” added Maria. “For me, it’s time and money well invested.”