By Roberto Hugo Gonzalez
As originally published in Texas Border Business newsprint edition February 2019
On Sunday, January 27, 2019, Noble Texas Builders and a very distinguished group of community leaders got together at the Brownsville Event Center parking lot to dispense 1,500 food plates to all federal government employees that were affected by the thirty-five-day federal government shutdown.
Rene Capistran, President, and CEO of Noble Texas Builders and Noble Charities told Texas Border Business that on that Sunday morning they barbecued 1,500chicken plates. They also gave out hot dogs. “We have the Brownsville farmer’s market here helping out by giving fruits and vegetables and gift cards along the way to help all the men and women that support the federal government that are currently in a furlough.” He continued, “We’re trying to do our part to thank them for everything they do for us every single day.”
Teri Alarcon, Area Assistant Superintendent of the Brownsville Independent School District was also a participant of this event but under a different role. “I’m the president of North Brownsville Rotary.” She has been a Rotarian for five years.
“It took one day to plan this event, where Noble Texas Builders, North Brownsville Rotary, and the City of Brownsville came together and said we’ve got to do something to help those being affected,” Teri said.
“To be perfectly honest,” Rene said, “if it wasn’t for the city of Brownsville and everything they’ve done, we wouldn’t be able to do this today.” He continued, “When we called the new City Manager Mr. Noel Bernal, he immediately said the City of Brownsville is here to serve you and support you.”
The new Brownsville City Manager was hired last December; it didn’t take long for him to interact with citizens of Brownsville. “What I would call this is a call to action. I think you’re seeing the best out of the various entities that are involved and that is a call to service,” Noel said.
Christine Blouch, with Noble Texas Builders and director for the Noble Charities Foundation, said that the effort was to reach different people of the community to get this program going. “Sometimes we may be building a handicap ramp, and today we are feeding furloughed employees.” She said, “For us, it’s from the heart. It’s what we do, it’s what we love, and here we are.”
Another volunteer was Robert Jokl with Life Juice in Brownsville. This company is a local juice bar, promoting all kinds of health and wellness for the Brownsville community. He and his dad Larry Jokl donated 750 half-chickens, the other 750 were given by Noble.
The question is, how can you do this event without volunteers like the Puente family. Antonio Puente got the whole Puente family and participated as part of the cooking team. They were Alfred Gutierrez, Antonio Puente, Sr., and Gabriel Puente. Antonio said, “Often when we get invited to do this, I feel happy that we’re out here to help the community.” Antonio is a Journeyman electrician and volunteers to cook whenever they call on him for good causes like Serving Heroes.
Another volunteer was Javier Gonzalez the scoutmaster for Troop 189 in Brownsville, a charter out of Jubilee Academy, along with a total of seven of twelve Boy & Girl Scout volunteers.
KGBT-TV was also instrumental in broadcasting the message to Brownsville, primarily to federal employees. Linda Guerrero Deicla, General Manager for the TV station was there with a team of broadcasters and video streamers.
Rene told Texas Border Business that officially they had about 150 volunteers, 20 of them from Noble Texas Builders. “Let me tell you, the idea started with the North Brownsville Rotary Club. They came up and said, ‘Hey Rene we wanted to do this.’ So, we put it together and then we called friends and here we are.”
Rene said that their goal was to serve as many federal employees and their families as possible.
“It’s beautiful to see how Brownsville and all communities of the Rio Grande Valley have opened their hearts. It tells you a lot about the fabric of the Rio Grande Valley that we are one big family. I guess many years ago, somebody coined it the magic Valley. Today is living proof that we’re still magical. Perfect.”