A great deal of hope was found today among supporters of Access Esperanza (Access to Hope). Their 20th Anniversary Celebration in bustling, downtown Pharr, Texas, shown brightly in the Autumn twilight, Saturday, November 5th, 2022

The gala was held, appropriately, in the enormous, iconic fruit market on Cage Boulevard, now storage for Access Esperanza goods. Valet parking, champagne and shimmering flappers galore adorned the premises. Honored was Dr. Fernando J. Otero, M.D., of Women’s Clinic of the Rio Grande Valley, McAllen and Edinburg. Recognized also, among other distinguished guests, was Ms Michelle Vallejo, owner of the Pulga Los Portales, Alton, Texas, and candidate for District 15, U.S. Congress.

Ms Gayle Martin (one of the 18 distinguished professionals and community activists who are Directors), officiated. Access’s mission is “to provide education, advocacy, and affordable, high-quality healthcare services” to the Rio Grande Valley; they boast over 58 years of family planning and preventive health cares services through their clinics in McAllen, Mission, Edinburg and Weslaco. Approximately 350 Valley residents from those cities and others joined in the festivities, which included musical and dance performers, silent and live auction, and raffle. Presenting sponsor was Open MRI of McAllen; Title Sponsor was Hector Guerra.  

The long list of Access to Hope supporters numbered over 56 businesses and individuals, to include the Honorable JoAnne Garcia and the Honorable Juan Hinojosa. Clerics and academician’s names are notable among the large and small businesses who contribute (such as Dr. Ann Millard Flores, owner of an “Air B & B”–a restored old Pullman “Sleeper”), in Edinburg. Other Access to Hope sponsors feature: (Platinum) DHR Health, Frost Bank, John Gonzalez, Jr., Social Life and Texas Regional Bank; (Gold) Heffner Design Team and ubeo Business Services; (Silver and Bronze) 24 different private individual and businesses.  

The spacious interior was both of historical (Pharr’s heyday in the citrus and vegetable trade) and architectural interest—the huge wooden beams forms a breath-taking dome overhead, The well-dressed crowd seemed to realize and appreciate the momentous moment. It was a boisterous, varied mix of ethnic, professional and age groups, appreciating their ability to come together for the mutual benefit for the great cause of health, especially women’s health, and for those in the Rio Grande Valley not as fortunate as they.

Dr. Ortero re-emphasized those points in his emotional address, choking up at times, as he remembered people in need (former days with the Peace Corps). He stressed, “people don’t want hand-outs; they want rightfully paid work and governments helping to provide access to needed resources.” He concluded: “The reward received by volunteers for helping provide that access? Gratitude and love are returned.” Not a word was heard of “politics”–only of “family and country.”

There could have been (should have been, for this writer) mention of some politics—for example, the obvious, sad end to the “roaring’ twenties.” But this night was just a teasing, fun-filled eve of spats, suspenders, riding breeches, women with beaded head-bands, and short, glittering dresses. They all enjoyed Frisee, Kalamatas, then Brazlian Picanha with Haricot Vert and Bordelaise Potatoes, then Mousse. In conversation I found many of them have traveled, read, peered beyond their borders, enjoying life both internationally and in their hometowns. They are a quite sophisticated group, and quite dedicated to helping others succeed.

I also found an older “20s,” identifiable reference that stood out—a very handsome couple, he, Waldo Garcia, of Handbag Clinic, McAllen, and his companion, a well-named, lovely Hispanic “Daisy” (Alvarez). She knew the book (Gatsby), the period, the meanings, the warnings (Yes, history can repeat itself, as Fitzgerald cautions; so best be careful.) Hispanics in the Valley are quite cautious, reflective, a people quite seriously concerned with beauty, with literature, and, yes, with politics. Their voice is heard now and will be heard more strongly come next week’s elections, and in the future.