MCALLEN, RGV – The stereotypical view that nothing good happens in Reynosa could not be further from the truth, says a charity that helps children in need.

At a recent Christmas party, Betsy Chacon of Children’s Haven International spoke about the generosity of the maquiladora companies that give donations to her group. 

The party was hosted by INDEX Reynosa and held at Cambria Hotel & Suites in McAllen. At the event, Children’s Haven International was presented with a check for $16,000 by Reynosa Asociación de Maquiladoras y Manufactureras Fundación, otherwise known as RAMMAC.

“It is a huge donation. It means a lot to our children that the maquila companies would invest this much in them. That these companies see them and care about their needs is wonderful,” Chacon told the Rio Grande Guardian and RGV Public Radio 88 FM.

“This proves not everything is bad in Reynosa. We believe in our children and we are glad these companies believe in them. We thank Mike (Myers) and the foundation and all the companies and golfers who have made this donation grow year after year. We are honored to be one of the charities selected.”

Chacon said the mission statement of Children’s Haven International is “to provide loving Christian care to needy children.”

Every year, usually in October, RAMMAC, the foundation set up by INDEX Reynosa, holds a golf tournament at Palm View Golf Club in McAllen. All the proceeds are donated to three Reynosa-based charities, with some of the funds held back for RAMMAC’s education work in elementary schools in Reynosa.

The three charities are Children’s Haven International, Miradas de Esperanza, and Rio Bravo Ministries. At the Christmas party, each received a check for $16,000. RAMMAC kept $13,000, with around $3,000 earmarked for taxes and $10,000 to help teach ethics and patriotism in five elementary schools in Reynosa.

Ray Hansen of Rio Bravo Ministries was also grateful for the support of INDEX Reynosa’s foundation.

“RAMMAC and Mike Myers have been a great blessing to us with the proceeds from the golf tournament and also all the physical and technical they give to us. We have developed a great relationship and friendship over the many years,” Hansen told the Rio Grande Guardian and RGV Public Radio 88 FM.

Rio Bravo Ministries has been working in Reynosa for the past 27 years.

“My wife Leah and I started the faith walk that God has so blessed over the years. We are a family-styled children’s home that has four homes on the same campus, two for boys and two for girls,” Hansen said.

“We are focused on two priorities, Christianity and education. We work to break the cycle of poverty by having as a goal a professional education at the university. We have been blessed to see many graduate and return to work with us in ministry. We also have a Christian school that has over 600-plus enrolled in K-4 thru 12 grade. God has been faithful and good to us and it is a joy to work for Him in Reynosa.”

Mike Myers, a maquila plant manager and longtime INDEX Reynosa board member, helped set up RAMMAC.

“The foundation has grown and been blessed beyond anything we could have dreamed of. We started by having a golf tournament and giving the net proceeds back to small groups and it has gotten bigger and bigger and bigger,” Myers told the Rio Grande Guardian and RGV Public Radio 88 FM.

“We had to pay taxes so the Mexican government helped us form a foundation, so we can pay less in taxes. The synergy keeps going. Now, we are working with HEB and S-Mart and they are starting to make donations too.”

This year’s net proceeds from the RAMMAC golf tournament was $63,000. 

“We were able to donate it to the three foundations and sow it back into our foundation also. In previous years we have helped two elementary schools in Reynosa with color books and teaching students patriotism and ethics and different values. This year, we are going to be able to go to five schools.”

Myers acknowledged that five schools in a city as large as Reynosa does not sound a lot. 

“We are doing what we can. We choose elementary schools because we want to reach the children while they are young and trainable. Good ethics makes us good people. It starts the students down the correct path. According to the good book, the straight and narrow path is very difficult to follow. We want them to follow that straight and narrow path because there is so much temptation out there.”

Myers said that when people look at foundations they check to see how much of the money raised is eaten up by administration. “Some give 80 or 85 percent back. We are close to 100 percent. People do not have a problem donating to us when they realize there are no administrative costs.”

Myers acknowledged that the corporations that run maquila plants in Reynosa can do a lot more to help local charities. Among the maquilas based in the city are Panasonic, LG, Delphi, and Corning. All have their corporate headquarters a long way from Reynosa.

“Before, we did not have a foundation to ask for donations. Now we do. There is a lot of corporate money (based in Reynosa) and they want to give back. Social responsibility is finally cool in the corporate culture. We started our golf tournament many years ago and now it is cool.”

Myers predicted the multinational corporations based in Reynosa will become increasingly impressed with RAMMAC’s work when it sees where the money is going. “They can see this is where the rubber hits the road. We have just planted the seeds with this and there will be an orchard many moons from now. Something we will be able to be proud of.”

Myers pointed out that in addition to the money raised from the golf tournament, the three local charities also benefited from door prizes held at the event. Among the prizes were a television donated by LG, a stern system donated by Delphi, and gift cards donated by Corning.

“Our associates have big hearts. They sent their golfers out to play and they sent door prizes. It gives me great pleasure to see the synergy created. Before I had openings, now I have a waiting list of people who want to be the sponsor next year. So, we have sponsors that have already committed for next year. It blossomed once we made it a charity event and we started giving it all back.”

Enrique Castro, president of INDEX Reynosa, says RAMMAC can become much, much, bigger.

“As companies, we set goals every year. We (the maquilas) are growing like crazy, more businesses are coming, the border is going to get stronger and more important,” Castro said, in his remarks at the Christmas party. 

“So is our social responsibility. We would like to be benchmarking against other associations in Mexico. In Chihuahua they generate about $1 million a year. Why can’t we do that here? We are thinking about programs that will be self-sustaining.”

Castro acknowledged that if RAMMAC is to grow rapidly it will start to incur a larger administrative overhead. However, he said there is no reason the percentage of funds given to local charities has to diminish. 

“We will keep the match, with at least 85 percent of proceeds going back. We will be very transparent. They have heard of us in Mexico City and now everybody talks about Reynosa.”

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a two-part series on Reynosa Asociación de Maquiladoras y Manufactureras Fundación and the Reynosa-based charities the foundation helps. The second part, authored by Blanca Gomez, will be published next week.