Wednesday, January 22, 2020
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44 Years and Counting

20200101 orange grove image1That’s how long the residents of Orange Grove RV Park in Edinburg have been collecting toys at Christmas for the Edinburg Fire Department to distribute to Edinburg children. The Fire Department works with local churches and nonprofit agencies to ensure that the toys are given to the Edinburg children. Fire Department Chief Shawn Snider said he has been at the fire department for 29 years and Orange Grove RV Park has continuously donated the toys during his tenure. Orange Grove park owner Rosemary Hensley said that donating toys for the fire department to distribute to Edinburg children has been a tradition continuously for the 44 years it has been open.

ARVP’s Coat and Sweater Drive adds warmth to the season for many

20200101 alamo rec coat driveTo make freezing temperatures a little more bearable for those in need, Alamo Rec-Veh Park (ARVP) residents donated 81 coats and sweaters to charity before Christmas. Due to Park Manager Barbara Hamel’s concern about those who might suffer from the cold this winter, the park’s first Coat and Sweater Drive resulted. Before it began, ARVP resident Fred Meier made arrangements with Alamo’s Heavenly Splendor Church pastor Josh Gutiérrez to distribute the collected winter garments. ARVP resident Colleen Benoit decorated the very large collection box. Within a couple of days, the container was filled. When Fred and Pastor Josh came to collect the warm clothing, the original box had been filled and emptied six times.

Fun N Sun preparing for 40th International Shuffleboard Championship

20191226 Fun N Sun ShuffleboardAnn Engell is a world-class competitor. Talking to her leaves no doubt.

When she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, the athlete who played baseball, volleyball and pickle ball, started preparing for the future. But the competitive spirit hasn’t changed... in fact, it may be greater now than ever.

Read more: Fun N Sun preparing for 40th International Shuffleboard Championship

Winter Texan quilts comforting families of organ donors

20191218 img 4212 quiltQuilts made by the Winter Texas Grandmas at Casa del Valle are providing valuable comfort to families when their loved one becomes an organ donor at hospitals across the Rio Grande Valley. Since starting a partnership with Texas Organ Sharing Alliance (TOSA), the organ procurement organization that provides organ donation and recovery services for families in Central and South Texas, 20 donor families have received a hand-made quilt.

Seven years ago, Don Uecker of Wisconsin was making funeral arrangements for his wife, Darlene, when he asked family and friends to consider making a financial donation in her honor to the Texas Grandmas group. Years later, his relationship with the group and his volunteer work with TOSA led him to connect the two groups to provide something special for grieving families.

“I know she would have liked this,” Uecker said as the Winter Texans worked around him.

The group collects their fabrics from donations, often times even material from families within the park. The size of the group varies as Winter Texans start returning to the Valley for the season, but often the crafts room has about a dozen people working inside on a variety of tasks to complete a quilt.

Each week the group meets and can complete about 300 quilts in an individual season. They donate their quilts to a number of organizations, but say no matter where they go, they’re happy to know they can bring comfort to families.

“It’s nice for us to have a community for us to serve,” said Sandra Johnson of Ontario, Canada. “It’s good for us to hear how they’re used and know they’re needed.”

TOSA recently was gifted another eight quilts to use for upcoming donor cases. Families often drape the quilt over their loved one and take it home with them once the organ recovery is completed. For many families, the personal touch of the quilts provide them solace that feels like home, which is difficult to come by in the hospital setting.

“They’ve been generous enough to make and donate quilts that are given to families of organ donors,” said Edwina P. Garza, TOSA senior communications coordinator.

Texans are encouraged to register at the Texas Department of Public Safety or the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles. For information on organ donation, community initiatives or to register online, visit TOSA1.org.

Texas Organ Sharing Alliance (TOSA), founded in 1975, is one of 58 federally-designated Organ Procurement Organizations (OPOs) in the United States. TOSA is committed to a mission of saving lives through the power of organ donation by providing organ donation and recovery services to Central and South Texans wishing to donate, and to those waiting for a life-saving organ transplant.

First hole in ones

20191218 hole oneDawn Moore gave out some simple, but direct, instructions to her golf ball recently, while playing with her Sunday scramble group at Stuart Place Country Club in Harlingen.

A resident of Sun Valley Village with her husband Phil, Dawn made it clear to her ball what its part was in playing for her that day.

“I just told the ball to go right up there and don’t dilly dally around,” she said. “I hit it and the other lady in our group (Pauline Crist) was standing beside me and she said, ‘I think it went in the hole’.”

When the group, which included Bob Dark and Gary Anderson, reached the green and looked in the cup, sure enough that golf ball listened to the commands and obeyed.

“I was pretty sure it was in the cup,” Dawn said. “I watched it land on the green and saw it roll right up there, straight and pretty.”

It was her first hole-in-one after about 10 years of playing. Her husband Phil added jokingly that he has three. It’s because of Phil that Dawn took up golf while they lived in Lake of the Ozarks in Arkansas.

“When he retired, he started playing golf and was leaving me home all the time. All of our friends golfed too,” Dawn said. “So, I decided to take it up as well.”

She was asked what club she used on the 100-yard par-3. She said it was her driver.

“He couldn’t believe I used a driver,” she said. “I’m not a long hitter. But it still went in.”

After the recent ace, she probably won’t be giving it up anytime soon either. However, with the early Christmas present came an ounce of not so great news upon returning to the clubhouse.

“When we got back, they asked if I was part of the hole-in-one club,” she said. “I wasn’t and they told me I could of won $100. I said that was ok because I probably would’ve just bought drinks for everyone in the clubhouse with it anyway.”

Paradise Park residents sharing their blessings

20191211 paradise park bless 01Residents at Paradise Park in Harlingen are sharing their blessings this year by gathering donations for a couple of organizations. They are gathering donations for Dr. Bill Harrison’s Sow the Word mission in Nuevo Progresso and for Loaves and Fishes food pantry in Harlingen.

The park has a reverse advent calendar set up where they ask residents to donate a designated item each day. For example, today, December 11 is 105 ounce can of veggies, and tomorrow is a bag of rice. The list doesn’t only include food items. The list also includes items such as soap, shampoo, crayons and coloring books.

The Winter Texan Times went and visited the park last week just to see what they were doing.

Criss Hastings, one of the organizers, said they have been blessed with the amount that has been donated already. In just six short days, residents had nearly filled up the front of small trailer home with the donations already given.

“The amount of donations for the Reverse Advent is already amazing,” said Hastings.

Hastings and her husband Jeff, park chaplain, and Sharon Bargel are leading the gathering.

Even though they are collecting items through December 24, they are having a big celebration on Friday, December 20 during their Burger Friday and jam session.

They will collect a big portion of their donated items and present them to Dr. Harrison.

Jammers start playing at 10:45 a.m., lunch is served at 11 a.m. and announcements will be made at noon. Residents also wear read on Fridays to Remember Everyone Deployed.

Hastings thinks the stage will be a sight to see with all of the donations gathered around.

If you want to help out call Sharon at 320-248-2167 or head on over to the jam session on Friday, December 20. There is a fee for lunch. The park is located at 1201 N. Expressway 77, in Harlingen.

“The Children’s Christmas Tree” at Llano Grande Resort

For seventeen years, Llano Grande has participated in the “The Children’s Christmas Tree” program at Christmas time. In our area, “The Children’s Christmas Tree” is administered through Child Protective Services, which is a division of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. The mission statement of the DFPS is to promote safe and healthy families and protect children and vulnerable adults from abuse, neglect, and exploitation. In reference to “The Children’s Christmas Tree,” they focus on taking care of foster and other children in need.

In 2002, Dick and Pam Gall brought the “The Children’s Christmas Tree” program to Llano Grande Resort, as a result of getting to Joe Catreal, long time member of the DFPS team, in a summer baseball league. Intrigued by the “The Children’s Christmas Tree” concept, Dick and Pam originated and led the “The Children’s Christmas Tree” program at Llano Grande. They continued in chairing the program for several years.

Phyllis Mumm then took over the helm for eight years. Phyllis was succeeded by Linda Poyer. The program this year is chaired by Dara Marvin and Carol McKinney, sisters of the Galls, and residents of Llano Grande Resort.

Getting involved with the “The Children’s Christmas Tree” project is easy at Llano Grande. Beautiful Christmas trees have been placed in several locations around the park. These trees have colorful tag “decorations” hanging from them that list the names and pertinent information concerning each child’s age.

A donor simply selects a tag and goes shopping for that child. Or, if shopping is not possible, residents may just donate a cash amount and Carol and Dara will do the shopping. Gifts are then deposited into large “present” boxes which are located by the Christmas trees. The hosts of the project then deliver the gifts to the CPS headquarters for distribution.

Another way to be involved in the project is to help wrap the gifts. Carol and Dara will host several “wrapping parties” over the next few weeks. All they require is a happy heart and your best packaging skills.

This year Llano Grande is proud to be sponsoring over 350 children. Residents at Llano Grande are thrilled for the opportunity to work with CPS to brighten the holiday season for some pretty special kids.
For more information call Carol at (956) 565-6125 or Dara at (419) 908-8239.

Retama Village holding fundraiser

20191127 retama village fundraiser 01Retama Village is hosting their 5th Annual Craft Fair and Bake Sale fundraiser from 8 am to noon on Saturday, December 7. The event will have vendors offering a wide variety of beautiful handmade arts and crafts made by residents. Attendees will find things such as paintings, wood carving, leather art, jewelry and much more.

In conjunction with the craft fair, residents will be hosting their annual bake sale for charity. All the baked goods are made by residents. There is usually a wonderful variety of pies, cakes, cookies and other delicious goodies that will be sold at their bake sale booth.

The bake sale has always been a big hit with those that visit the event – everything usually sells out.

All proceeds of the bake sale will be donated to a local charity that is chosen before hand by the co-chairs of the bake sale committee.

Residents at Retama Village conduct several fundraisers for charities throughout the year in the local community. They also do volunteer work. Most of the residents are Winter Texans, but permanent residents continue during the non-Winter Texan season.

This year, the money raised at the bake sale will be donated to Women Together/Mujeres Unidas, a non-profit community service organization whose mission is to provide shelter and support services to victims of domestic abuse. The park raised nearly $1,000 last year with their bake sale.

“We chose Woman Together because we wanted to support an organization that benefited primarily women who needed to get back on their feet, while recovering from domestic abuse,” said co-chairs of the event Dale Bruss and Coco Atkinson. “In that way, their children would receive more than just a gift to open on Christmas.”

“We are a community filled with people that try to help those who can’t help themselves,” Nedra Denison, one of the organizers.

In the past, the park has also donated to elementary schools in Mission providing necessary clothing and money. They also donate to the local food pantry and many other charities.

The park also does a lot of work with Cinderella Pet Rescue. They usually coordinate a dinner with food and auction items where all money goes directly for the care of the dogs and cats at the rescue. Many residents have volunteered at the rescue, and many have adopted their own pets.

A retired social worker, Denison says her mother told her she was always rescuing animals.

“I never stopped trying to save the world...one dog at a time.”

Join Retama Village at their clubhouse, 2204 Seagull Lane, in Mission. Call (505) 506-3558 for more information.

Texas Trails holds Hog Trough

By Herb Moering
hog 1A hundred people went hog wild at a dinner and dance Saturday afternoon, Nov. 16, at the Texas Trails RV Resort.

This first such event, open to the public, at the resort in Pharr had customers bellying up to one of the two hog troughs outside Friendship Hall for some shredded pork loin, beef roast and sausage, along with steamed potatoes, cabbage, carrots, corn on the cob, a homemade roll and a cookie for dessert.

Dave Cole, who headed the cooking committee, said they lit up four kettles outside the hall to prepare the foods. When ready the foods were dumped into two long troughs with lines forming before each of them. He added that several women in the park prepared the vegetables for cooking the previous day.

Cole might be considered a veteran of the hog trough, frequently holding one of those affairs at his place in the park for 30 or 40 people. So, it seemed natural to park activity director Lou Dewaele to see about expanding the hog trough to include more people. They had a trial run of it this summer on the Fourth of July, with some 80 people. This time they opened it up to the public.

While the cooking was outside, the consumption was inside, along with what was to have been a street dance. Dewaele said the change was due to some concern about the weather, although it became a very pleasant, sunny day.

Once lunch was over the scene shifted to the dance floor and the Barbed Wire Band, which was fine with Jim McCubbins and his partner Carol Jarvis. The couple had come from their place at Alamo Recreational Vehicle Park for the meal, but especially for the dancing. These Winter Texans have been coming from Missouri for 10 years and dance away the season, averaging at least five nights a week.

Besides frequenting Texas Trails and their own park in Alamo, the couple also go regularly to Winter Ranch, Mission Bell and Victoria Palms for dancing. McCubbins said they love to dance and especially enjoy the country music.

The hog trough is one of many events open to the public, Dewaele said, who is in his first year as Texas Trails activity director aided by his wife, Kathe. He was an assistant activity director at Pleasant Valley Ranch in Mission in the couple’s first year in the RGV.

All the Friday evening dances are for the public, featuring the Grayrock Band, Nov. 22; Diego, Nov. 29; Curt James, Dec. 6; Regan James, Dec. 13 and South Texas Ramblers, Dec. 20. Entertainment coming up includes Razz Ma Tazz, Dec. 10; Winter Texan Orchestra, Dec. 15; Lindsey Creek Christmas Show, Dec. 17, and the Tiny Hill Orchestra, Dec. 29.

In January every Tuesday and Sunday there’s entertainment he noted, including plans in the making for a “Ladies Only Night.” The first weekend in February, the schedule calls for a Super Bowl party at the park on Owassa Road.

Is seems likely the hog trough is going to remain a popular draw, based on the smiles and comments expressed by those digging into the food.

Tip O Texas holds Monster Run

20191030 TipOTexas2by Herb Moering

About 1,000 people were ready for a run on Saturday, Oct. 26, to benefit the Tip of Texas Family Outreach Center.

Under near perfect weather conditions in the late afternoon runners, walkers, skippers and strollers were on hand an hour before the scheduled run for a little warming up on Levee Street in Brownsville. They were getting ready to take part in either the 5K Zombie Run or the Monster Mile. There was a lot of smiles, with many of the kids made up with a Halloween look, for hundreds of pictures to be taken.

In the crowd was Nola Ortega, who was being joined by her daughter along with Karla Espinosa and her daughters Zenia and Athenez. They were all part of a running club at Villa Nueva Elementary School in Brownsville and this was a chance to get out and participate in an organized run.

Elizabeth Saldana came with a large decorated cake for a headpiece. With her were Brandon Almaguer, dressed as a marshmallow and a brother, Jason, as a big mouse. The two boys were definitely there to run.

There was even a dog by the name of Paris in a tutu that had on her outfit the word, “Boo.”

Before the start of the runs, the children, along with parents stood in long lines to receive backpacks, supplies, refreshments and snacks from community sponsors of the event. Then it was time to hit the starting line and receive the go signal. Two Brownsville police cruisers led the way with wave after wave of runners roaring quickly past the many spectators lining the curb in the first block.

At the end of the run there were treats and a haunted house to traverse. Juan Fernando Lopez, who was helping in the spook house for the second year, said, “Families come to have fun. It’s very good for the community.”

Ximena Bouchot and Juliana Mendez, juniors from Brownville Early College High School, were made up as a pair of “clever” sisters for the haunted house. Bouchot said it was their first year of helping and called it “fun putting it together.” They were among nearly 50 from the high school working the spookiness.20191030 TipOTexas1

This sixth such event before Halloween is a major fundraiser for the Family Outreach Center, according to its director Alma Herrera. She said the agency, which is a partner organization with United Way of Southern Cameron County, works annually with about 300 families residing in the Brownsville area. The aim in working with parents is to try and prevent child abuse and neglect by offering an array of supportive services, such as free counseling, parenting skill classes and helping teen parents.

 

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