For Buckner International and Wells Fargo, strengthening local families is the most effective way to strengthen the Rio Grande Valley.
Currently in construction of the fourth home sponsored by the bank, Buckner and Wells Fargo held their final volunteer day for the new Garcia family home on Wednesday. The house is located in Peñitas, and is being paid for by a grant from Wells Fargo and Buckner Missions.
Buckner International is a non-profit organization that specializes in helping families and children in need. Bankers, tellers and managers alike have helped in the building of the home, and are glad to see the community giving back.
Monica Skrzypinski, the Development Officer and Gift Officer with the Buckner Foundation, spoke about how the Garcia family was selected to receive this new home.
“They work really hard to make points [with Buckner],” Skrzypinski said. “They attend classes, they need to have a job.”
After amassing so many points, families are put on a list, where they are then selected for the new home.
The non-profit organization builds about 11 homes per year with different organizations. Bucker’s mission includes motivating and giving families the resources and opportunities to be self-sustainable and successful.
Although the home itself is free, families who are gifted them must be able to pay for the lot and the utility bills once it is complete.
“We just want to make sure that we are not doing a disservice for them by giving them a home that will now have water and electricity and other payments that maybe for some of the families were not constant every month in the past,” Skrzypinski said. “We want to make sure that they are able to make those payments and not lose the lot.”
The Buckner Family Hope Center in Peñitas (located at 39210 Mile 7 Rd. in Peñitas) offers residents classes, case managers and services designed to empower parents who are struggling in order to build up the family. Operating through Buckner Missions on home builds and other projects, Buckner is present all over the RGV.
“We have many classes, our case managers work with them really closely to make sure that they are self-sustainable,” Skrzypinski said. “I think that is the key: make the family self-sustainable.”
Skrzypinski said that for families, this opportunity means the world.
“It means a new beginning, it means a new start and it means a jump forward for the families we work with,” Skrzypinski said. “We have to obviously give them credit, they work really hard.”
Skrzypinski was grateful for Wells Fargo offering grants at the local level and also supplying them with hardworking volunteers.
“Not only are they giving back financially, but this is the fifth day they have been sending volunteers,” Skrzypinski said. “They are also going to be doing financial literacy classes at our Family Hope Center. That tells you how Wells Fargo just wants to give back.”
Kay Garza, who works for Wells Fargo and was painting the new home on Wednesday, has worked on three homes for the bank now. She sees the work as fulfilling and necessary for the RGV.
“I’m very fortunate to work with a company that supports giving back to our community,” Garza said. “That’s something that I’ve always been passionate about.”
Before working with Wells Fargo, Garza did volunteer work on her own and said she was shocked to see how some people lived in the area.
“Since then, I’ve just done everything that I can to make sure that I am very supportive of the community, that I give back,” Garza said. “I’m very blessed, and it’s very important to me to make sure that I pay it forward.”
Alma Ortega Johnson, the Regional Bank President of Wells Fargo for South Texas and El Paso, was able to visit the build site as well. She said charitable work in the community lines up with the vision, values and goals of Wells Fargo, who has been working on this region with Buckner since 2015.
“This is one of the many ways we support,” Ortega Johnson said. “The families supported by Buckner go through really hard situations. They really want to be sure the families are going to be able to continue improving their lives from there. It is so critical.”
Wells Fargo donated $20,000 and more than 300 volunteer hours this year toward the construction, making this the fourth home they have built in the Valley in partnership with Buckner. According to Ortega Johnson, they hope to see these projects grow and improve the quality of life overall in the community.
“It is a part of our social responsibility,” Ortega Johnson said. “We have to help our people have a better life and improve their quality of life.”
Jorge Rodriguez, who works with Buckner Missions, was present at the home build for the Garcia family. Giving back to the marginalized lines up with the mission he tries to follow on a daily basis.
“These families have tremendous talent and genius and resilience, but they don’t always have the opportunity,” Rodriguez said. “It helps me to connect to the mission I have to give opportunities to families – to have a safe home, make it more resilient for them, for their children, and lead to better health.”
For more information on how to get involved with the Buckner Foundation, offer services or donate, Monica Skrzypinski can be reached at 956-585-4847 (ext. 227) or via email at [email protected]