Mission makes history by earning its first ever All-America City title
Mission, TX- It was a mission accomplished. For the first time ever, the City of Mission was named an All-America City on June 23, 2019 at the 70th annual All-America City awards in Denver.
“I have always known Mission is a city with endless possibilities,” Mayor Dr. Armando O’Caña said. “Being named a 2019 All-America City just emphasizes our place among the great cities of our nation. This is one of the goals I wanted to achieve for our community, and thanks to our civic engagement, our devoted delegation and our great projects we did it!”
The National Civic League recognizes ten communities each year for exceptional civic accomplishments. To win, each community must demonstrate civic engagement, innovation, inclusiveness and collaboration by describing effective efforts to address pressing local challenges. The finalist cities traveled to Denver to make presentations before a jury panel to demonstrate why their community deserved the All-America City designation. The presentations from each city included skits, music, impassioned speeches and testimonials from community members.
This is the first year the City of Mission applied for the award, and they were named a top 20 finalist. Their theme was: Mission Possible, a play off the American action spy films starring Tom Cruise. Part of Mission’s skit included Cristina Garza, the Director of Social Impact at the Mission Economic Development Corporation. Garza dressed up as “Ruby the Grapefruit,” the Mission Chamber of Commerce’s celebrated mascot.
“As soon as I saw the costume, I knew I wanted that to be my role,” Garza said. “I got the job by simply telling people individually that I was going to be the grapefruit, that it was decided. No one contested it or even questioned my assertion. Success is about creating opportunities for oneself.”
For this year’s award, the National Civic League placed an emphasis on creating healthy communities through inclusive civic engagement. Mission’s presentation highlighted the city’s pet adoption program — Mission Pawsible, the expansion of the local food pantry and the addition of outdoor food blessing boxes for families in need after closing hours, along with their tennis program for the visually impaired. The honor came at a time of deep sadness for the city following the death of a Mission police officer.
“A lot of people in the delegation didn't lose a city employee, they lost their personal friend. For many, it was hard to stay focused when their hearts were back in Mission, but their commitment to the competition mirrored their commitment to the city,” Garza said. “More than ever, the delegation wanted to show a united front and to share with everyone the closeness of our community in the face of adversity and pain. The delegation made sure to publicly uphold and celebrate the worth of the community Corporal Espericueta lived to protect and serve.”
Cpl. Jose Luis “Speedy” Espericueta was killed responding to a call of an armed man. The ensuing exchange of gunfire between the suspect and the responding officers resulted in the deaths of both Espericueta and the suspect.
“Our Mission delegation worked tremendously hard for this award. We arrived in Denver only to deal with the devastating news of the loss of our Mission police officer,” City Manager Randy Perez said. “I boarded a plane early the next morning and left even though I was part of the presentation. It was heartbreaking for our community. Our delegation rallied and they represented the best Mission has to offer and proved what a wonderful place Mission is to live, in memory of Speedy.”
The All-America City Award shines a spotlight on the incredible work taking place in communities across the country. The city dedicated its award to Espericueta.
“We did this for Speedy. Our community came together and honored his memory with this historic win,” Mayor O’Caña said. “We lost our friend and hero in the line of duty as he was protecting our community. The way our city responded with heart and soul shows why we are an All-America City.”
It was an anxious awards presentation for the Mission delegation of 27. Mission was the last city announced as a winner. Garza said the nationwide recognition was well earned.
“Mission won because our values can be measured in the quantity and quality of programs that engage our residents. We had a very strong application that highlighted our inclusive community programs, a great presentation coordinated by Roxanne Lerma and Aida Lerma, and an unmatched delegation of committed Mission residents that passionately represented our city.”
The City of Mission – where anything and everything is possible!