Towering Leaders of South Texas Celebrate the Joy of Helping People

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Affordable Homes of South Texas, Inc. celebrated its 40th Anniversary

Texas Border Business – 

By Roberto Hugo Gonzalez,

On June 28, 2016, McAllen Affordable Homes of South Texas, Inc. celebrated its 40th Anniversary. The event took place at the McAllen Country Club. It became a once in a life celebration because the founding president (1976-1980) of the organization Arturo “Tito” Torres, was present to celebrate with Jason Leal, the current president (2015-2016).

It is important to say, one day before this celebration, John Ingram, McAllen City Commissioner read a proclamation dedicated to this admired organization.

“First of all, welcome everybody,” Robert “Bobby” Calvillo said as he spoke from the podium. He is the executive director of Affordable Homes of South Texas, Inc.

Calvillo said, “With the help of the City of McAllen and the building contractors, the financial institutions and the private citizens who donated to this program, we got involved because we cared and had a feeling of pride in our community.

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As director of this program, I feel it’s an organization that has brought about a tremendous change in the lives of the people we have assisted. We believe that by rehabilitating their homes, these people not only have improved living conditions but also have changed their way of life, also instilling greater self-pride and giving these citizens the joy of ownership and dignity in their community. We thank the owners who have joined us by accepting the challenge to participate in our rehabilitation program because they will be rewarded by having a better community in which to live and bring up their children.”

Calvillo read from a note written by McAllen Housing Services’ first executive director Al Rogers, who made that comment in the 1977 annual report.

Calvillo also pointed out that the program is not about anything but the community and all that have volunteered or have served this organization for the last 40 years, it’s something that is truly inspiring. “So thank you for that and for all the service that you provided to our community,” he said.

During the night, volunteers were recognized like McAllen Mayor Jim Darling, now known as the real unsung hero of Affordable Homes of South Texas. Darling served as the legal counsel of the organization for the last 20 to 25 years without charging a penny and contributing with his talent as a professional.

A big Thank You to current commissioner Richard Cortez; he is a former McAllen Mayor, who also supported the organization. Congressman Rubén Hinojosa was also present; he brought a US flag flown under the blue sky of the Capitol in Washington.

The story about Affordable Homes of South Texas, Inc. is extraordinary because it started as a grass roots effort by people that felt the desire in their heart to help and serve others.

Calvillo reminded everyone to take a copy of the June 2016 Texas Border Business issue. He said, “Roberto Gonzalez did a great job in trying to summarize 40 years’ worth of history.” “Also, Myra produced an annual report that provided an overview, a little taste of our 40-year history as well.”

The celebration brought memories of the 70s, the 80s, 90s, 2000s, and 2010s.

Calvillo said, “I forgot to mention, the reason that we’re having this today on a Tuesday (June 28, 2016) is this is the 40th anniversary of the little seal according to the Texas Secretary of State articles of incorporation.”  He said, “One of those three people that were the original incorporators is Arturo “Tito” Torres.”

Arturo “Tito” Torres 1976-1980. “I can’t tell you how good I feel because all of us here are in the same business, and that’s helping people that are less fortunate than the rest of us,” Tito Torres, one of the original founders of the organization.” He said, “We care about the city that we all love. And it was a labor of love for me, and I hope for just about everybody that I know that’s worked with this organization.”

list-of-presidents

He thanked people that had to a lot to do with getting this organization started 40 years ago like, Morgan Patel, Mike Blum, Barney Jackson, Al Rogers, Doc Moore, Craig Farmer, Morgan Talbert, just to name a few.

John Schrock, the 1982-83 president, said, “The reason affordable housing came about because there was a definite need in the city, one that was underserved. But because of that and because of the positive attitude of its citizens McAllen is what it is today, which is far above any other area of South Texas.”

Schrock said that he was pleased to have known people like Tito. “I have known him since high school although he’s older than I am,” he said. He also mentioned Glen Roney, Andy Gomez, Rey Guerra, David Farb and Othal E. Brand.

Glen E. Roney, President from 1991-93, said, “I followed Othal Brand as president of the organization. Back then Brand was McAllen Mayor.

Mr. Roney said that one day Mr. Brand was in his office talking about some banking business. Brand was over on the other side of the desk telling him, “This is what you need to do, blah, blah, blah, and of course, it all pertained to what he wanted to do. And I finally said, ‘Mayor, excuse me a minute. But I have to make the decisions over here in this chair; you don’t make them over there’.”

Anyone that knew Mr. Brand understands that he was a towering figure in McAllen and South Texas. “Of course, I have a great admiration for the results he generated and created for the City of McAllen,” he said referring to Mr. Brand’s tenure as a public servant.

Paul Schwab, president during 2001-2006, said, “The challenges that we had at that particular time were part of the economic downturn in 2008 and 2009.” He continued, “The land prices were through the roof during that period. Accessibility of land to develop was tight. And so that was a lot of the emphasis to open the program up a bit and seek land prices affordable to be used, which is pivotal for affordable homes.”

Jason Leal, 2015-2016: “I am thankful that I have the privilege of being on the list of all these great presidents for these last 40 years.” He said, “A privilege, but certainly a task. You left me a big job to do and to continue that for the next 40 years. We’ve served and helped out over 4,000 families and continue to help out many hundreds of others. We’re around 80 million in assets, 50 million in loans and with a net worth of $51 million. Indeed, from the banking perspective a stronger balance sheet and something very easy to manage from that perspective too.”

Congressman Ruben Hinojosa also part of this celebration he said, “What an honor it is to listen to the giant leaders, pioneers and to hear their stories and their remarks of Tito Torres expressing his thoughts on the 1990s, to hear John Schrock talk about his memories of the 1980s. And then to hear Glen Roney, who also is one of the big giants and how he remembers working together with Mayor Othal Brand. And then to hear some of the successors of our steady leaders in the 20th Century that includes Mayor Jim Darling and immediate past Mayor Richard Cortez and so many other leaders that we have today standing on the shoulders of those who spoke before me.”

Special thanks to Sharon McGee, Paul Moxley, Carmen Garza, Ruby Delgado, Elva Cerda, Tony Sanchez, Karen C. Valdez, Rudy Elizondo, Edward A. de la Tejera, Luis Figueroa, and Yolanda Chapa. They all have served at one time or another in this organization.

This report is brought to you Thanks to Lone Star National Bank, as they are the sponsors of these important report. TBB

Related article: The BIG Story, Affordable Homes of South Texas Celebrates 40th Anniversary