The Webb County community unites in a time of crisis


Unity and fighting spirit were shown across Laredo and across Webb County this week as organizations, leaders, and total strangers came together to serve the most vulnerable members of the community as they were affected by the freezing temperatures and power and water outages.

Pepe Gamez said he and his wife Diana Torres started donating whatever they could and they have held an event every afternoon since Tuesday giving away Pozole at their Orange Pepper restaurant on 5517 McPherson Road. Ste. 7A. Your efforts have gradually grown thanks to the commitment of the community.

“Now people with some money are helping by donating $ 5 here and there to buy more pizza for the people, and I am also helping with my own grain of sand by making pozole for the adults and those who like it,” Gamez said. “We plan to continue doing this until we can no longer, as people have supported our efforts and what we do for the community.”

Others have focused on donating items to keep people warm during this week’s freezing temperatures.

“We also donated blankets, sweet bread and juices because we saw the great need our community had after these difficult times when people suffered from extremely cold weather and some also went hungry,” said Alex Mejia. “It’s not much, but I know that the people who got something were very happy and that is my satisfaction to see their happy faces.”

A main port of call for those trying to help others has been social media. People could share where they gathered to donate items, what items they needed, and what they wanted to give away. Several people have used social media groups to spread information about where to get help and how to contribute to the efforts of others.

“In these troubled times, I am grateful and grateful that I live in a community that truly cares for one another,” said Jessica Olivares, a local entrepreneur and founder of a local COVID-19 group. “It’s nice to see how much help and care arise for each other. The ‘Covid-19 LRD Support’ group is really changing people’s lives. A united community can overcome any obstacle, and that is what our group is about. “

Local leaders were also quickly involved in the process of helping community members.

“The first time this happened, we mobilized quickly and I reached out to the South Texas Food Bank. Together, we were able to distribute 1,000 cases of water that first day because I was the first elected officer to do this. ” District IV Councilor Alberto Torres Jr. said. “We got organized quickly and distributed 1,000 boxes of water and food in the Nixon High School parking lot, from protein snacks to bread and anything else to help people keep going.”

Torres said his efforts also enabled the city to partner with various organizations and even local restaurants to ensure everyone in the area had hot meals.

Torres said the Webb County’s Democratic Party had teamed up to bring aid to Zapata, where there was a complete county blackout for days. Lots of food, blankets and other forms of support were provided.

When local political leaders banded together to help with emergency relief efforts, so did various organizations. One of these organizations was Red Wing United.

“We worked with Alyssa Cigarroa and her team to help relieve families during the blackout,” said Alec Martinez, chairman of Red Wing United. “We have an emergency hub on 816 Market that we operated from, prepared care packages, provided information, and set up power banks for people to charge their phones.”

Martinez said the organization’s efforts would not have been possible without the help of the many volunteers it has, as they have been relentlessly focused on helping people in need both on the street and through social media.

Another area supported by Red Wing United is the small community of El Cenizo, where the city was completely blacked out for about four days with no electricity. Many people also had water problems when pipes burst, and other people didn’t get service until Wednesday morning. Even so, the residents of El Cenizo have participated in efforts to help those most in need.

“The idea that you need a title to act is no longer true in today’s society,” said El Cenizo former Commissioner Maximiliano Zapata. “We saw that community engagement and outreach was sparked by parishioners rather than officials. Since I have experience on both sides of the political spectrum, I have to say that as a private person I can work without bureaucracy. That way the progress seems to be faster. “

The organization used social media to provide households with wellness checks and to use other sources to find out who was in need.

“According to information from La Gordiloca, we went to a Calton Public Library apartment complex to do wellness checks and provide care packages,” Martinez said. “Today we’re driving around delivering hot food and water to homes that need it.”

Gamez, Mejia, the Red Wing United Volunteers, Olivares and Zapata are just a few of the people who have come together to help those most in need in these perilous times. They represent how the community can come together in times of crisis.

They plan to continue their efforts even though the majority of the Laredoans and the people of the county appear to be back to normal, and they assure that they will help the community whenever possible.

“Every time I can help, I will because you never know. Today everything is because of them; Tomorrow it may be up to us, ”said Mejia.

Zapata stressed the impact community involvement can have if only those in power are depended on.

“I think community engagement is necessary in times of need,” said Zapata. “However, I would like to urge the people in El Cenizo and other communities not only to unite in times of distress, but to develop a feeling of solidarity even when we are not faced with misfortune.”

Ultimately, the local leaders are extremely grateful and proud of the continued work of the citizens who gather to help their neighbors.

“I would like to personally thank everyone who had a golden heart and was very considerate of others,” said Torres. “This is a time when we come together, and we experience it during fasting week and as Catholics, where we make sacrifices to show that we are grateful for what we have. We have seen these people do these benevolent acts when they are blessed to have water and electricity and then turn around and share the blessings and sacrifices for all they need to help those in need. These are the times when society and people are being tested. “

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