Four of Mission’s most outstanding citizens were honored last week for their extraordinary service to the citizens of Mission. Their service spans anywhere from 10 to 65 years and is as varied as are the individuals honored.
Some of the organizations that have benefited from their volunteerism include the Boy Scouts of America, the Mission Boys and Girls Club, the Foundation at Mission Regional Medical Center, Mission Lions Club, Mission CISD Board of Trustees, Mujeres Unidas, Leadership Mission, Mission Chamber of Commerce, Mission Economic Development Council and Mission Historical Museum.
The Progress Times presented the Citizens Awards for Mission’s Woman of the Year, Man of the Year, Mr. Mission and First Lady of Mission during the annual banquet of the Mission Chamber of Commerce, continuing a 65-year-old tradition of recognizing those who have performed outstanding service to the community.
This year’s honorees were: Deborah Cordova, Woman of the Year; Pete Jaramillo, Man of the Year; Connie Garza, First Lady of Mission; and Dr. Don Reinhardt, Mr. Mission.
First Lady of Mission
Connie Garza is well known in the community for her multiple civic, church and benevolent service endeavors over a period of 46 years. Some of her community service includes: Silver Hair Legislator representing the Rio Grande Valley, Infinite Love volunteer serving the needs of cancer patients at Texas Oncology, Pan de Vida volunteer at Calvary Baptist Church, Our Lady of Guadalupe Church Hospitality Center, Leadership Mission board, Mission Boys and Girls Club board, Mujeres Unidas, Mission CISD Board of Trustees, and many others.
Making the presentation of this award at the banquet, Progress Times Community News Editor Mendi Brunson said, “Although she doesn’t seek honors for her efforts, she has received them for her exemplary service. She was Mission’s 1993 Woman of the year, the 1998 Hispanic of the Year, Volunteer of the Year with Mujeres Unidas, a Texas Corrections Association Shining Star and even more.”
After 46 years of service, Garza continues to take on new causes as she tries to help those who suffer. She has undertaken the challenge to help create a shelter locally for victims of human trafficking, partnering with Tamar’s Tapestry, a non-profit organization in McAllen that serves the needs of trafficked women.
Woman of the Year
Deborah Cordova is well known at the Mission Boys and Girls Club where she has not only served on the board of directors for nine years, but has worked to ensure the success of the club’s annual gala, which provides scholarships for Mission area high school seniors. One summer, she and club staff painted all four walls of the gym, and another summer she and others prepared meals for the Summer Program staff. It’s not everyday one will see a successful attorney willing to take such a hands-on approach to serving the children of the community.
She chaired the first annual Wills for Heroes Clinic benefitting the Hidalgo County retired veterans. She also served on planning committees for the annual Monster Bash benefitting the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the annual school supply drive benefitting Foster Children of the Court Appointed Special Advocates of Hidalgo County – and more.
Cordova is also the first woman to serve as the Chair of the Rio Grande Valley Partnership Chamber of Commerce in 69 years.
Don Reinhardt, DDS (retired) may have retired from dentistry, but he never retired from serving, said Progress Times Publisher Jim Brunson when presenting the award.
Reinhardt served a remarkable 65 years in Scouting, holding just about every position possible for an adult Scouter, including Scoutmaster.
When he moved to Mission in 1995, he immediately got involved, joining the Mission Lions Club, an organization he has served for 55 years, and getting involved with the local Boy Scout troops.
A life long member of the Methodist Church he has served on many church committees and is currently chairman of the PPR (Pastor Parish Relations Committee), is program chairman for Methodist Men and he sings in the church choir, as well as doing lots of the “little jobs” that always need to be done at church.
He is a Gideon and a Shriner and a board member of McAllen Community Concerts. He also belongs to the Elks Club and American Legion and is a charter member of Mission Historical Museum.
As he presented the Mr. Mission award to Dr. Reinhardt Jim Brunson said, “He joins to be a worker – to be an active member – to give 110 percent and do it well. He doesn’t join organizations to be recognized, he joins because he believes in what the organization stands for.”
Man of the Year
Pete Jaramillo is well known in the community due to his active involvement for many years.
“Here is a man who exemplifies the spirit of quiet leadership – unpretentious, always kind, always ‘there’ – serving without fanfare, not seeking the accolades of his peers,” Jim Brunson said of Jaramillo. “Extremely active in his professional life, he makes the time to serve his community and his neighbors.”
He has served in numerous leadership positions and on committees of a variety of civic and church organizations, including Mission Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), Mission Chamber of Commerce, and Mission Historical Museum where he has served on the board a number of years and as board president.
He also served on the Leadership Mission board for several years, helping develop future leaders of Mission.