Weslaco Chamber awards Man, Woman of the Year and Lifetime Achievement Award

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The Weslaco Chamber of Commerce Annual Membership and Awards Luncheon was held on October 30 at Knapp Conference Center. Pictured L-R: Barbara Garza, President/CEO, Weslaco Area Chamber of Commerce; Velma Hirlas, Peter Piper Pizza, Business of the Year; Luis Reyes, Board Member of the Year; Mary Mattar, Lifetime Achievement Award; Carla McCaleb, Woman of the Year; Joe Vidales, Man of the Year; and Emiliano Montenegro, Volunteer of the Year.

Texas Border Business

The Weslaco Area Chamber of Commerce held its annual membership and awards luncheon Wednesday, October 30 at the Knapp Medical Conference Center.  The Chamber awarded Man, Woman, and Business of the Year, as well as the Lifetime Achievement Award. In addition, Volunteer and Board Member were recognized. 

The 2019 Man of the Year award went to Joe Vidales, Weslaco’s resident expert historian. Vidales has been a volunteer at the Weslaco Museum for about 10 years and has stepped in as interim director when the museum board was searching for a full-time director. By profession, Joe was a psychology professor and counselor at Washington State for 17 years, and upon retirement returned to his home town of Weslaco. Vidales is always ready to share his vast knowledge about Weslaco and the RGV, and he was even interviewed in a spotlight on Weslaco in Texas Highways magazine earlier this year.

Carla McCaleb, the owner of McCaleb Funeral Home, was selected as the 2019 Woman of the Year. Carla serves on the Chamber board of directors and has been a Red Coat Ambassador for many years. She served on several committees as an active member of the First United Methodist Church and has served on the advisory board for the Better Business Bureau. Carla currently serves as president of the Literary Review, but she’s most passionate about the business and community she currently works in: grieving families. As the owner of McCaleb Funeral Home, Carla has run a community grief support group for the past five years that meets on the first Thursday of every month. She also assists with the Grief Share Ministry at First Baptist Church that meets every Monday.

The 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award went to lifelong Weslaco resident Mary Mattar. A veteran businesswoman, Mary Mattar owned and operated a store called The Fabric Fair in downtown Weslaco.  She believed in workforce education and worked with the high school distributive education program since it began. Mary also passed along her business knowledge teaching typing, shorthand and business courses at a Weslaco veteran’s vocational school. She also served as a director of the Weslaco Chamber of Commerce. Mary has been a faithful volunteer at the Weslaco Museum and continues to do so every Wednesday. In addition, she also serves as Vice President of the Museum Guild. Mary has been a choir member at the First Presbyterian Church of Weslaco for over 50 years.

Business of the Year 2019 went to Peter Piper Pizza of Weslaco. Their charitable and community-minded works extend well into the community and the entire Rio Grande Valley as a whole. Peter Piper Pizza is a champion for education and is heavily involved with the local schools, donating dictionaries to schools throughout the Mid Valley, and providing coupons to teachers for students with perfect attendance and good grades as part of their Partners in Education initiative. Every year, Peter Piper Pizza partners with KRGV to hold a canned food drive in all the local schools. The class that collects the most cans wins a pizza party by Peter Piper Pizza. In addition, Peter Piper Pizza provides free refill mugs for their senior citizen customers, as well as working with local RV parks in the area.

Additional honorees included Volunteer of the Year Emiliano Montenegro and Chamber Board Member of the Year Luis Reyes. Retiring Board Members included Mari Aviles, Johnny Bautista, and Gene Vaughan.

Thank you to table sponsors City of Weslaco, Weslaco EDC, Frost Bank, Knapp Community Care Foundation, Magic Valley Electric Co-Op, Rio Bank, Texas National Bank, The Weslaco Museum and Valley Baptist Health System.

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