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Home | Tag Archives: segundo barrio

Tag Archives: segundo barrio

Segundo Barrio, Chamizal Residents Share Reasons Behind EPISD Bus Hub Protest

Tuesday afternoon, the parents and community of Bowie High School gathered to send a message to El Paso Independent School District (EPISD): “Education Yes, Contamination No.”

I spoke with Hilda Villegas and Maria Luisa Amaya, both women are part of ‘Familias Unidas de Chamizal’ and are also concerned parents. Hilda explained to me that the parents and the community are outraged.

For the last 3 years they have been fighting the El Paso Independent School District as they continue to move forward with their plans to tear down the Bowie baseball field and build a transportation hub that would house 124 school buses.

Along with the buses, comes contamination to the quality of air and water for the surrounding area. Segundo Barrio has already been struggling for years to get help from the city in regards to traffic from the international bridge just next door, which has elevated smog and toxins in the air.

“Our kids are the ones suffering, we have seen asthma and other conditions associated to bad air quality, on the rise in the area. Bringing 124 buses, 300 employees and their vehicles, would destroy the breathing air we have left. They are not interested in the betterment of our kids or investing in their education, they are here for their own profit,” Villegas told me.

The community has even had a specialist out to the area that did indeed find cause for concern with the air quality. (see report here)

The women explained to me that no one consulted families in the area prior to this passing within EPISD, they caught wind of what was happening sometime around 2015 and began to organize in the neighborhood, they have submitted signed petitions and are working with Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid to fight for their community.

“They tax us for everything, they tax us for being part of the Chamizal, they tell us we have to pay for this and that because these are historic lands, yet the people are constantly being ignored” Amaya stated.

As Hilda Villegas spoke to the crowd, they reminded us that this issue goes deeper than the surface.

This is a a piece of Texas history, yet it is often ignored and not given the importance it deserves.

In 1949 the Bowie Bears and their legendary coach William Carson (Nemo) Herrera, made sports history as the first Champions, of the first Texas State High School Baseball Tournament ever held. They won against all the odds.

Racism in 1940’s meant that the team made up of Mexican Americans, could not eat at restaurants like other teams, if they found an establishment to serve them they set up chairs in the kitchen for the team, they were not allowed in the main dining area. As they continued winning games across Texas, their road to victory was not paved with support like other teams.

Often the young men were turned away from hotels, like in Austin during their quarter finals the boys slept in Army cots underneath Memorial Stadium.

In the final game it would be the no.1 seed, Stephen F. Austin High School who had been undefeated all season and had left all other teams in the dust scoring 10 or more runs to nothing in previous games, but they proved no match to El Paso’s own Bowie High School. The game would go down as one of the greats, with the Bowie Bears pulling the lead of 3 runs to an empty Austin scorecard and eventually winning the Championship Bowie 3 – Austin 2.

‘La Bowie’ has been historic in more ways than one. Coach Nemo Herrera was coach (and Bowie was home) to future NCAA legendary coach himself, Nolan Richardson. Herrera is the only Texas high school coach to have won multiple state titles in two sports, baseball and basketball yet there are only 3 things in Texas that honor his name, Bowie baseball field is one of them.

One of the ’49 Bowie baseball team members, Andy Morales, would go on to also become a coach and pass on Nemo’s teachings to a whole new generation. One young man that Morales coached was Chris Forbes, who would grow up to coach and lead the 2009 Socorro Bulldogs Baseball team to a State Championship, the second title for El Paso area, 60 years after the Bowie Bears.

In a ceremony, a long overdue moment was finally granted when the 2009 Socorro team presented the surviving members of the 1949 Bowie Baseball team with their own championship rings as well.

I agree with Villegas when she says this is deeper than the surface. This is also about not desecrating the memory of those young men and Coach Nemo and recognizing Mexican American history, how they beat the segregated times of the 40’s and brought pride to the South Side.

It is about how this same area is now living through segregation again. For the last decade or so they have been segregated from the rest of the city and the people discarded.

As “projects” like the Bus Hub, continue to spring up in downtown, the smog and smoke continue to be blown in the faces of the people that live here and corporations continue to sit on the chest of the community, squeezing out the last gasp of air; yet no one seems to be concerned with the families that are living here and their quality of life, not to mention that there eventually will be nothing left of this beautiful historic land, that is part of the Chamizal.

Would this ever even be a suggestion at a school in let’s say the Westside of El Paso, to demolish their historic state championship team’s field, an open natural space, in order to house 124 buses?

I saw a couple of students at the protest as well, Katherine Villegas was the one who heard the news first and quickly shared with her friends David Gallardo and Emmanuel Marquez. As David said, they are highly concerned about what this will mean to future generations.

Katherine told me that one of the corporations that has starting construction on the field had actually hit a oil pipeline that runs next to the water pipeline that goes directly into the school. They have attempted to get answers from officials about looking into the water, only to be ignored.

Emmanuel began to notice the change in his health when he moved to Bowie, almost immediately asthma began, more doctors appointments, etc… I asked them how this has motivated them, they said they care about their future and what to help make Bowie Better, not bulldoze it.

They have created a group for students ‘Bowie Community Awareness Association’ they meet every Friday at lunch to discuss what is happening and what they can do. They are undeterred, they are ready to continue to organize and rally the student body in order to protect Bowie.

If we have learned anything from the next generation – as they organize for gun reform across the nation – is that they will not be silenced by the status quo, so we should heed their rising voices.

Attachment A. Niemeier Expert Report re Air Quality Impacts March 26 2018

Chamizal Title VI Complaint re Bowie Bus Hub FINAL signed

Chamizal, Segundo Barrio Residents Set to Protest EPISD’s Bus Hub Decision

Community members, students and concerned residents are set to protest a decision by El Paso ISD to put the district’s bus hub on the historic South El Paso campus.

Familias Unidas del Chamizal (Chamizal Families United) announced the rally against the installation of the bus hub at Bowie High School, at San Marcial & Paisano Street for 4 pm on Tuesday, May 1st.

Organizers say that EPISD has “made a decision to establish its central operations hub with more than 120 school buses, butane and gasoline station and repair center at Bowie High School.”

Via a news release, they add that, “Bowie High School students are already disproportionately exposed to toxic and hazardous pollutants emitted by maquila semi-trucks and international bridge traffic.”

Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid, on behalf of Familias Unidas del Chamizal members have filed a Civil Rights Title VI complaint to stop the construction of the bus hub. They contend that, “In El Paso, no other school has a transportation center on their campus.”

The groups further contends that “EPISD did not conduct the proper impact study, they have hired contractors to begin the destruction of the 1949 Bowie High School state champions historic baseball field, to replace it with the facility.”

The group’s news release adds:

According to the City, their ordinance does not permit a transportation facility, as proposed by EPISD,  inside the Bowie campus’ property, next to the football and practice field. However, EPISD claims that it is exempt from all regulations because of a state law.

Families United goes on to say, “It is our view that they are misinterpreting the state law because exemptions are granted only if it furthers education and does not endanger the public health of the students. Why has the state granted an exemption that puts the health and security of our student in danger?”

Earlier this month, the EPISD Board of Trustees approved the contract for the construction of the bus hub at Bowie.  The funds will come from a 2007 bond, which had initially allocated just over $5 million for the project; but now will cost closer to $11 million.

At the time of the contract award, district officials told several media outlets that they had not received a copy of the complaint, but maintained that it was not a ‘discriminatory issue’ as there were three other hubs spread throughout the city.

According to the group, Bowie students are asking that – instead of the bus barn – the district build “an innovative green cultural arts learning center that would address the existing academic problems, preserve the green area, the history of the 1949 baseball team, and other important history of the Bowie alumni.”

WHAT: Rally Against the Bus Hub at Bowie

WHEN: Tuesday, May 1, 2018 at 4pm

WHERE: In front of Bowie High School, San Marcial & Paisano Street

City to Discuss Possible Move of “The Men of Company E” Memorial

Representatives from the City of El Paso will host a public meeting Thursday to discuss a community proposal to move The Men of Company E Memorial sculpture from its current location to Cleveland Square Park in Downtown El Paso.

Organizers of the community meeting include the City of El Paso Museums and Cultural Affairs Department, the Parks and Recreation Department and the office of City Representative for District 8, Cissy Lizarraga.

The Men of Company E Memorial has been located at the World War II Veterans of Company E Park at 4321 Delta since in 2008.

The memorial by El Paso artist Julio Sanchez de Alba, is a bronze bas monument honoring the a group of young Mexican-American Soldiers from the City of El Paso who were sent to Southern Italy on a tragic mission to cross the Rapido River on the night of January 21, 1944.

Tragically, many of the Men of Company  E, 141st Infantry, 36th Division, whom many now refer to as the Fallen Sons of El Paso, were killed in the attempt to cross a waterway saturated with barbed wire, mines, and artillery.

WHO:             City of El Paso Museums and Cultural Affairs Department (MCAD), Parks and Recreation Department and City Representative for District 8, Cissy Lizarraga

WHAT:           Community meeting to discuss the possible move of The Men of Company E Memorial

WHEN:           5:30 p.m., Thursday, April 19

WHERE:       Chalio Acosta Sports Center, 4321 Delta

Gallery+Story: As Segundo Barrio Apparel Success Continues, Schools, Residents Benefit

What do you think of when someone mentions the Segundo Barrio? What comes to mind? I asked those questions of the people on the Remember El Paso When Facebook Group and received some amazing answers.

“It is a place where neighbors know each other and lend a helping hand,” says Arlene Salazar. “You belonged to a community and everyone took care of each other. The ice cream truck passed by every afternoon and I would buy a blue raspa with ice cream on top, this was the bomb. Could play outside with family and friends till the sun went down not a rich community but boy there was plenty of Love, which made us a rich community”

“I come from a family of 10, my Dad had his own business and as we were growing up we became his cashiers and my brothers were the stock boys,” shared Guadalupe Soto Faz. “Around Christmas we sold Christmas trees, we always compete with each other when it came who sold the most trees, it was Christmas money which it wasn’t much, good memories, I had the best parents.”

And then there is Minerva Cheatum, “My god parents were Modesto and Tutis Gomez. They had and lived at the wholesale grocery store on Stanton and 7th. They helped the people in the Barrio. My godmother, was at one time on the PTA at Aoy where their kids attended grade school and the went on to attend Bowie. Tito, Gloria and Ofelia.”

Others remember the food, and its flavors. There was the Bowie Bakery, and so many other Mom and Pop restaurants. Others speak of the art, the murals and the artistic expression of the Barrio.

To everyone I spoke with, the Segundo Barrio is a special place. It remains close to the hearts of current and former residents.

“It’s always there,” said Rosa. “It’s a part of you, no matter where you go.” Rosa now lives in Portland, Oregon. “It’s the heart of El Paso.” I’ve been all over the world and I’ve never found another copy like El Paso, or a neighborhood like the Segundo Barrio. It’s rich in history, heritage, and tradition.

It’s the Segundo Barrio’s traditions of family, community and artistic expression that are being carried on by Bobby Lerma of Segundo Barrio Apparel.

Earlier this year, we introduced you to Bobby and his company.  In that article Bobby had said he would be giving 30 to 35% of the companies profits to Bowie Athletics and their feeder programs. It’s a promise he was unable to keep.

“We did promise to give 30 to 35% of sales,” says Bobby Lerma. “We didn’t keep that promise. We actually went up to 70 to 75% going to Bowie and Guillen Middle School.”

With Guillen they helped with the first annual Southside Football Camp. “Between 45-50 kids attended and we provided the tee-shirts, and a Deejay for them.”

There are the tee-shirts and sports jerseys they’ve donated. There were football helmets that were donated, as well as backpacks when school was just starting. If there is something the students need, and if Segundo Barrio Apparel can get their hands on it, it will be given.

“Kids need help,” says Bobby. “Kids in that area need some type of help, and this is just the way I am helping them.”

Bobby, and those working with him are more than willing to help anyone in the Segundo Barrio, that’s why the percentage give rose to 70 to 75%, to help meet those needs. Those needs can seem insurmountable at times.

We all know that there are teachers who buy school supplies for their students. Not every parent can afford the items on those ever-growing lists. The same is true for athletics. Football helmets, like the ones Segundo Barrio Apparel donated can cost upwards of $300. That money is not always there. So, Bobby steps in.

It’s not everyday that someone does something truly altruistic for a whole community. Yet, it’s being done for the Barrio.

What makes this even more amazing is that, locally, they are only open one day a week!

“We only do it three hours a week,” says Bobby. “Saturday, we have our sale, from 11 to 1pm, and that’s it.” Bobby says it has the feeling of a barbershop, when they are open. “People come in from out of town,” he says, “and they tell stories. People who buy one or two tee-shirts end up staying and talking about the past and how good it was.”

The stories that are told are vivid, full of imagery, and a longing for times past. Yet, when you walk through the Segundo Barrio you are walking into a strange juxtaposition of old and new. Those traditions that generations were raised with are sill there today.

Bobby knows about the Segundo Barrio and its traditions. He grew up on Seventh and Ochoa. He knows the needs of the community, and how best to help them. What Segundo Barrio Appeal is doing is helping to meet that need, and you can help by visiting them and buying tee-shirts, hats, and more.

According to Leos Guillermo Portillo, that tradition and drive for excellence runs deep in the Barrio.

“El Segundo Barrio means identity and roots for our city of El Paso,” says Leos. “El Segundo Barrio, on of the oldest neighborhoods in El Paso and the birthplace to great men and women, it means an exchange of cultural changes between Mexico and the USA. It describes the authenticity of our men and women workers with a great effort to excel in their environment as in their family circle.”

With Bobby, and his family I can see that. They are striving to make changes in the community, and the lives of future generations through Segundo Barrio Appeal.

“It’s not only just a section of El Paso,” says Bobby Lerma “I know it’s probably the section with the poorest, but there is a lot of culture, a lot of history, a lot of pride. People who get out of there want to contribute. They do it differently. I have friends that coach there, others who go back and apply to teach at a school there. And I have my friends at Bowie. A lot of us Bowie ex’s come back and try to help out.”

To me, the Segundo Barrio is the heart of El Paso. It is the dreams, hopes and aspirations of a community that can drive the rest of us to experience simply by their example.

You can visit Segundo Barrio Apparel on line…but, even better, this coming Saturday, why don’t you visit them? They are open from 11 to 1pm at 4302 Alameda.

Segundo Barrio Apparel Looks to Give Back to Neighborhood that Inspired Brand

Around the Sun City, there’s always talk of a ‘brain drain,’ local talent leaving the city to ply their trade elsewhere.  Of late, that talk is waning, with scores of locals deciding to place their bets here, in their hometown.

One business owner, with deep ties to one of the most historic areas in the city, is leading the charge – while letting his clothes and profits – do the talking.

Bobby Lerma is no stranger to the Segundo Barrio (Spanish for the Second Ward) having grown up, gone to school, graduated and helped his family business – Blue Star Custom Uniforms – all within the sometimes elastic boundaries of the city’s southside.

In addition to helping the family business, Lerma was an instrumental part of a championship semi-pro football team, the Sun City Reapers, that boosted both the neighborhood and the school – Bowie – that he holds so dear.  It was the end of the franchise, and the desire to continue helping the school that led him directly to his new business: Segundo Barrio Apparel.

“Once the Reapers ran their course, and we won the championship and disbanded, I realized that the fundraising we had done with the team for Bowie athletics was gone too,” Lerma shares from a bustling office/production facility nestled between Chico’s Tacos and Jefferson High, three feet removed from Alameda Avenue.

“I still wanted to give back to the school, and the neighborhoods that brought me to where I was at…and I looked around and saw this rich, cultural area that people took pride in – that I took pride in – and I realized that all of Segundo could profit from their own image, their own logo,” Lerma says.

That logo – a seemingly simple, interlocked, script ‘SB’ – evokes feelings of pride of home, as surely as the interlocked ‘NY’ or the offset ‘LA’ of Yankees and Dodgers fame, that now define countless neighborhoods in each city; but the ‘Segundo’ brand is much more than shirts or hats.  Lerma says it’s about giving back to that community.

“I’m blessed that I have Blue Star to help get this off the ground and my family to help, because it means every Segundo shirt or hat we produce and sell, our overhead is lower, so more of that profit goes directly into the community, in this case Bowie Athletics and their feeder programs.”

And the percentage, according to Lerma, is 30 to 35% of the brand’s profits; a hefty percentage that he says is only going to grow in the future.  With each specific item run as a limited edition shirt, hat or sticker, the built-in demand for the branded apparel is heavy.

“The first run of the brand, we nearly sold out in the first couple of weeks,” Lerma shares as he shows the only remaining boxes of product,  “I’ve gotten calls from out of town, thanks to the web, of people wanting a specific shirt or the camo hat – like this one, but there’s only one left, and the shirts are just flying out of here.”

Those phone calls have also come from other parts of town – Northeast, Lower Valley – with each buyer wondering if their part of town will get a similar ‘Segundo Barrio’ bounce from branded tees and hats.

“If I were to do it…and that’s a big one…eventually I will, but ‘Segundo’ will be the brand, regardless of the part of town on the front of the shirt, it will always have ‘SB’ ” Lerma emphasizes with a smile, “Segundo is the brand, and that others want to be part of that pride, says a lot about the people and this part of town.”

To those who say that the Segundo brand is negative, Lerma says they’re simply wrong.

“This was never meant to represent drugs, or gangs, it’s much larger than that…it’s the people, it’s their spirit that can’t be contained in that one square mile, or a few blocks…a lot of people try to limit it, to box that culture and people in…but the spirit, the orgullo (pride) can’t be controlled,  people need to be proud of where they’re from, proud to come from that spirit and be humble enough to give back to that spirit, and help it grow.”

From a humble beginning, seeded by his own money and a basic page on facebook and instagram, ‘Segundo’ is blowing up.  As Lerma works with community groups, and sells from the Blue Star location, the new legend of ‘Segundo Barrio’ is growing fast.

Segundo Barrio Apparel Company is open every weekend, Saturday from 11 to 2p and Sunday from 10 to 12. They’re located inside the Blue Star Custom Uniform headquarters at 4302 Alameda.

All photos courtesy Segundo Barrio Facebook/Instagram 

Nolan Richardson to be Awarded Father Rahm Segundo Barrio Person of the Year Award

El Paso’s favorite native son, Nolan Richardson, is set to accept another honor Thursday night.

Organizers with Sacred Heart Church announced Richardson would be honored with the Father Rahm Segundo Barrio Person of the Year Award Thursday night.

According to organizers, the award “recognizes an individual or organization committed to the betterment, works and service to the cultural, historical, economic, educational and social empowerment of the Segundo Barrio (Second Ward), and its inhabitants, values and unique experience.”

Richardson began his coaching career at Bowie High School in El Segundo Barrio in El Paso, Texas.  He has 508 wins, 3 NCAA Final Fours and 1 NCAA National Title.  He is the only coach in history to win a national championship in junior college, NIT, and the NCAA.

Officials add that, “…not only has he succeeded in basketball,  Nolan Richardson Jr., has left a massive footprint on the Segundo Barrio, that will last many a lifetime.”

The mission of the Father Rahm Segundo Barrio Person of the Year Award is to “highlight, support and expand the unique historical and cultural imprint of the Segundo Barrio, its people and place in the history of the Paso del Norte region.”

For more information on the group and their award, Click HERE.

Event Schedule:

Thursday May 11, 2017
Dinner: Epic Railyard Event Center
2201 E. Mills Ave.
Cocktails 5:30 pm and Dinner at 7:30pm

Friday May 12, 2017
Lydia Patterson Institute Visit
517 S Florence St
8:30am – 9:30am

Guillen Middle School Visit
900 S Cotton St
10:00am – 11:10am

La Fe Preparatory School
616 E Father Rahm Ave

12:00pm – 1:00pm

Saturday May 13, 2017
Parade followed by Celebration at Sacred Heart Church
Starting at San Ignacio Church
408 Park St.
Starting at 9:00 am

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2017 La Fe Children’s César Chávez Day March set for Friday

Children from Segundo Barrio’s La Fe Preparatory School (LFPS) will honor the life and legacy of Chicano Icon César E. Chávez this Friday morning (March 31, 2017) by following in his footsteps and marching for their community’s rights.

This Friday would have been the civil-rights icon’s 90th birthday.

At least 260 LFPS’ students and their teachers will march out the school’s front door at 10 a.m. and walk east on Father Rahm Avenue. They will turn south on Ochoa Street and then west on 7th Avenue. The students will then march north on Campbell Street back toward their school’s playground.

“Our students may be little children, but at their tender age they are already beginning to understand that their community needs to unite and demand their rights to a good education, a dignified home, to fair wages in a safe workplace, and to quality, affordable health care,” said Centro de Salud Familiar La Fe CEO Salvador Balcorta.

LFPS’ educators have been working closely with the school’s students to teach them about the important and groundbreaking contributions of activist heroes like César Chávez. “César would have been proud to see these little ones becoming tomorrow’s leaders. They are being taught and raised to be confident, educated, and proud voices of their community. Teaching our youth what it means to be a true activist and an informed voter is everyone’s responsibility,” Balcorta added.

After the march, the LFPS’ students will release balloons in Chavez’ memory and take part in classroom activities that focus on Chávez’ life and legacy.

The children’s march is part of the school’s observation of César Chávez and Social-Justice Month.

The LFPS is a public, dual-language immersion charter school based in the heart of El Paso’s historic Segundo Barrio. The school offers its 260-Plus students, most of whom live in this low-income community, an arts, culture, and technology-based curriculum.

What:  2017 La Fe Children’s César Chávez Day March
When: 10 a.m., Friday, March 31, 2017
Where: La Fe Preparatory School, 616 E. Father Rahm Avenue

The Wondering Latina: The ‘She’-roe of Segundo Barrio

I left the house Saturday morning, armed and ready with my facts, and headed down to ‘Segundo Barrio’ but ended up with a completely differnt story than the one intended. Don’t you love when that happens? I do.

Earlier in the week, I had received an invitation to attend a community talk over an upcoming project in El Paso’s segundo area (as some of you may recall I’ve previously mentioned that I spent part of my childhood in that area) what concerned me about this event was that I saw The LIBRE Initiative had a presence at this community discussion.

For those that aren’t aware of what LIBRE is about, click on that link or feel free to read this before proceeding.

WHOA, right!? Now you see why I was concerned, Segundo Barrio is one of the areas most in need and I found it highly suspicious that this particular group has been weaving its way into my beloved hometown, so I went down to check things out. That is what I originally set out to do, but once I arrived, everything changed and I found a much bigger story.

I randomly bumped into a group that was volunteering their time, we chatted for a bit and then one gentlemen pointed to a young woman and said, “talk to her, she’s in charge here, she runs the show.”

I turned to introduce myself and there she was in the middle of cleaning up and moving some boxes from another event that was going on at the same time, talking to another member of the community, with two other people waiting to speak to her and then me.

To say she was busy, is an understatement, but I desperately wanted to hear what she had to say, and I am so glad I did, she is truly the heart and soul of the neighborhood.
C360_2016-04-25-02-44-50-054Veronica Román, the woman who took a leap of courage and is fighting everyday to keep Houchen Community Center, alive and thriving. Serving as the facility’s new Executive Director for only the last 4 months, in this short time Veronica has managed to turn things around and has brought new life, new vision to the place that only 4 months prior was getting ready to close it’s doors for good.

Q: Did you  know instantly that you wanted to take over the center when they offered you the position of Executive Director?

Román: No, not at first, I was working for a corporation that paid me well, provided benefits, it was not something that I wanted to just throw away. They were going to close down and that broke my heart for them [the community center] but I have three sons, and my oldest is heading to college this fall, I had to think about their future, their needs, so my answer was no.

Q: What made you change your mind? 

Román: The day the doors were officially going to close, I was in the area, I came to visit my mom. We came to the center and the media camera trucks were all here, everyone was setting up their equipment and as I watched Cathy [previous director] prepare to give her final statement, something moved me, just a feeling, the thought that the doors could close forever to a place everyone once called home, I couldn’t let that happen. I quickly whispered to a colleague, “I’ll do it, I’ll take the position, tell everyone to go home.” With that, she hugged me and yelled out “WE AREN’T CLOSING OUR DOORS TODAY, EVERYONE GO HOME!”

As my conversation with the director continued, I stayed completely enthralled in her story and what she is doing for the people of Segundo (South El Paso.)

So many heart-breaking stories of young girls that have been left homeless due to circumstance, the immigrationhouchen raids, etc… BUT equally so many stories of great triumphs, as the collective members of this area, from volunteers, to people bringing in supplies, others reaching out to connect her with those that can help with the vision, together they are building this new era of “community.”

I was genuinely moved and inspired to hear this story.

After I left, I logged on to the Houchen website, and found that the organization’s foundation is based on philanthropic ideals, which is great to hear:

“Houchen was originally started by Mary Tripp who helped young girls to learn English, better ways of sanitation, health and cooking. The young girls were recent arrivals in the United States. Rose Gregory Houchen, a Michigan school teacher, visited Mary Tripp and saw the need for a settlement house. She donated $1000 dollars toward building the house which was completed in 1912 and named for her.”

Clicking through their tabs, I saw the names listed on the Board of Directors and the past presidents, there seems to be less than 25% Latino representation listed in those positions of power, which causes me some concern when I think of the future for this safe haven and why organizations like LIBRE are trying to find their way into El Paso neighborhoods.

However, what puts me at ease is, that I now know who is sitting in at least one of those positions of power and she is FIERCE, authentically and unapologically of the people, for the people!

A strong Latina and an outstanding product of South El Paso’s schools, having attended Douglas Elementary, Guillen Middle School and is a proud Bowie High School graduate.

Truly a servant’s heart; I felt how much love she has for her people, and saw that the love is reciprocated. During the duration of our conversation, people constantly were waving at her through the window, checking in on her, seeing if she needed anything for the upcoming book fair, or the lucha libre event next week, or with the festival they were about to head to where they would also be giving out books to children in need.

I can’t wait to see what great new things will bloom in South El Paso under Román’s leadership, dedication and heart.

Whether it is working on getting funds to continue the mission, or planning the next events, or preparing plans for the upcoming next phase of Houchen Community Center, working with volunteers, mentoring, participating in the decision making process, oh yeah and living her own personal life too…it’s all in a days work for Veronica Román, one of Segundo Barrio’s true ‘Sheroes’.

Grant provides more Spanish and bilingual books for all in Segundo Barrio

The Texas Book Festival has awarded the Armijo Branch of the El Paso Public Library system a collections enhancement grant of $2,500.00. The funds will be used to purchase Spanish, Bilingual and English materials for children, teen and adult patrons.

“We are extremely grateful to receive this grant,” said Dionne Mack, Library Director. “The funds will enable us to enhance the Spanish and Bilingual Children’s, Young Adult and Adult collections at the Armijo Branch Library, which benefits all of the library patrons of the Segundo Barrio.”

Every year public libraries across Texas apply to the Texas Book Festival to receive grant funds. The grants are intended to update and increase book collections. This year, the Festival is distributing grants up to $2,500 to 34 libraries. Since its founding, the Festival has contributed more than $2.7 million in grants more than 600 Texas public libraries.

“Our public libraries provide invaluable services that advance the causes of literacy, education and life-long learning. We are committed to supporting the important work of Texas public libraries,” said Lois Kim, Executive Director of the Texas Book Festival. “We are proud that we can continue to help libraries meet the needs of their community.”

The Texas Book Festival raises money for the grants from individual, corporate, and foundation sponsorships, the annual Gala, and from book sales at the annual Festival. The 2015 Texas Book Festival was held in Austin in October.

The Texas Book Festival celebrates authors and their contributions to the culture of literacy, ideas, and imagination. Founded in 1995 by first lady Laura Bush, Mary Margaret Farabee, and a group of volunteers, the nonprofit Texas Book Festival promotes the joys of reading and writing through its annual Festival Weekend, the one day Texas Teen Book Festival, the Reading Rock Stars program, grants to Texas libraries, youth fiction writing contest, and year-round literary programming.

The Festival is held on the grounds of the Texas Capitol each fall and features more than 280 renowned authors, panels, book signings, live music, cooking demonstrations, and children’s activities. Thanks to generous donors, sponsors, and 1,000 volunteers, the Festival remains free and open to the public.

Visit www.texasbookfestival.org for more information, and join the conversation using the hashtag #txbookfest on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @texasbookfest.

Author: City of El Paso

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