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TSTC Students Help Beautify City

Saturday, October 26, 2013
By Eladio Jaimez

VolunteersThe spirit of volunteerism lives strong within Rio Hondo's Greg Esquivel. And if he can help it, it'll live on in future generations.

On Saturday, Esquivel joined about 200 of his fellow Texas State Technical College students as the group volunteered their time for National Make a Difference Day and spent the morning planting trees, plants, flowers and painting old structures around Harlingen.

Esquivel spent the morning at Memorial Middle School helping plant Esperanzas alongside a retention pond in front of the school. The 37-year old brought his wife, Monse, and three-year old daughter, Isabella, along to make it a "family thing."

"It's important to give back to your community," said Esquivel, a student in the Architectural Design and Engineering Graphics Program. "I brought my 12-year old step-sister out here too so she can see what it's like to give back and hopefully instill that volunteer spirit in them. She's also thinking about going to college one day and maybe she can start here (TSTC). She's getting a firsthand look at what the TSTC community is all about."

The effort was made possible through a partnership between TSTC, Keep Harlingen Beautiful (KHB) and the City of Harlingen. TSTC provided the volunteers, KHB funded the different projects with money generated from the Recycling Center and the city provided all the prep work.

This year, more than 700 flowers and plants were purchased for planting and the Memorial Middle School project was just one of six projects around Harlingen.

The group also planted and cleaned up parts of Dixieland Park, Rangerville Park, Arroyo Park, McKelvey Park and the entrance at LeMoyne Gardens.

Keep Harlingen Beautiful Board President Nick Consiglio explained that funds from the Recycling Center help support these types of projects along with a strong partnership between all entities.

"The more you recycle in Harlingen, the more we can do to keep it beautiful," Consiglio said. "This is another example of three entities coming together and working to keep Harlingen Beautiful. TSTC continues to work with us to provide a great volunteer base, the city through Dan Serna and the support of Mayor Chris Boswell and the City Commission support all of our projects with expertise skills and Keep Harlingen Beautiful funds the projects all from the revenue generated from the city-run recycling center"

TSTC Director of Student Life Adele Clinton started celebrating National Make a Difference Day at TSTC in 2008 and she said every year the projects are bigger and involve more students.

Clinton said service learning is an integral part of a student's development.

"The students absolutely love it," said Clinton, who also serves as Vice President of KHB. "They enjoy beautifying their community, learning a new skill and making new friends at the same time."

Sarah Hernandez, a 2013 graduate of Harlingen High School and student in the Education in Training Program at TSTC, was adding life to a gas-filling station inside the Recycling Center that's used by the Harlingen Police Department and other city service vehicles.

"I grew up here and when people from outside of Harlingen come and visit, I want it to look nice," Hernandez said.

Brownsville's Jesse Estrada, a nursing student, was working alongside Hernandez and said giving these structures a new look is like giving them a second chance.

"We're giving these places new life... another chance to be enjoyed," Estrada said.

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