Tag Archives: VIDA

Doors Now Open for Janet Oliva Cortez

VIDA: Janet Oliva Cortez

The team at Valley Initiative for Development and Advancement knows all too well about doors closing in keeping underemployed and unemployed people in the Rio Grande Valley from career advancement and higher pay. Janet Oliva Cortez knows about those challenges. Cortez works for the Weslaco Independent School District as a data entry clerk. It’s a good employer, secure job, and a decent salary. Cortez knew, however, that without a degree,…

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Mentoring and Accountability Make All the Difference

Erika Elizondo

Single mom Erika Elizondo was working as a front-desk receptionist less than two years ago at a resort on South Padre Island. She was earning $9.30 an hour when a friend told her about Valley Initiative for Development and Advancement.  “I was always interested in the medical field to help relieve people’s suffering,” Elizondo said. “I chose Emergency Medical Science because of the fast pace, I love the adrenaline rush.”  There…

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Changing Generations, Changing Lives

Jacob Zuniga and his family

Jacob Zuniga lives in McAllen. He was working part-time at H-E-B, knowing he had to graduate from college to reach his goal of becoming a radiology technician. Yet, he was unable to attend school full time because he also needed to provide for his family. His path to graduation had countless stumbling blocks. Zuniga knew about Valley Initiative for Development because his mom is a VIDA graduate who became a…

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Mere Coincidence or Serendipitous?

Maria Herrera, an RN at Edinburg Regional Medical Center, with Tony Aguirre after their serendipitous meeting.

For a week in early February, McAllen businessman and City of McAllen Public Utilities Vice Chairman Tony Aguirre spent countless hours at Edinburg Regional Medical Center where his mom was a patient. He watched TV with her and sang conjunto songs playing on his phone’s Pandora app with her. He monitored her vitals while she slept and had conversations with all of the medical professionals treating her. One of the…

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VIDA Nurse’s Budding Career Path

Aime Bautista, who graduated from South Texas College in Dec. 2019 with an associate’s degree in nursing, holds a candle at STC’s ceremony recognizing new nurses. The candle, when lit, is symbolic of a nurse passing on the flame of hope, service, compassion and peace.

Aime Bautista was a single mother of an 8-year-old daughter, working as a sales associate and earning $8.25 per hour. A lifelong resident of Mercedes who was raised by her grandparents, Bautista and her daughter were living with her grandmother.   In the summer of 2019, Bautista gave birth to another daughter and no longer had a job. A student in the Valley Initiative for Development and Advancement told Bautista about…

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Living a Better VIDA

Anna Martinez is a patient care technician at Weslaco Regional Rehabilitation Hospital. She will soon graduate from South Texas College in July with an associate’s degree in nursing, thanks in part to financial aid and support services from VIDA. (photo Ruben Garcia)

Anna Martinez may not have imagined what coming home would mean for her and her 8-year-old daughter.   Born and raised in Weslaco, Martinez and her family moved to Houston when she was in fourth grade. The years that followed were difficult. When Martinez became a teen parent, depression and anger sent her on a downward spiral.  Then Martinez’s parents separated, adding to her pain. Three years ago, Martinez decided to…

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Uniting the Valley for a Better VIDA

Oct. 1 at the South Texas College Library Rainbow Room in McAllen, VIDA career counselor Leslly Blancas discusses with VIDA students the importance of managing stress. .

In Spanish, the word vida means “life.” In the Rio Grande Valley, VIDA means a much better life for individuals and families and a stronger economy for communities across Deep South Texas. The Valley Initiative for Development and Advancement is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1995 by Valley Interfaith and a group of local business leaders. They realized providing people with education, training and support to obtain higher-paying jobs would…

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