From Bryan-College Station's KBTX.com
“Promotoras are the heart and soul of what we do,” said Jorge Vanegas, dean of the Texas A&M College of Architecture, which oversees the Colonias Program for the state.
“This is a celebration of 20 years of programs, projects, events and activities planned, organized, executed and delivered with more than 100 regional partners, 50 of whom are represented here today,” Vanegas, who also heads the Colonias Program, told the Weslaco crowd. “One thread that has forged a solid bond among us all,” he added, “is an unwavering commitment to serve the needs of people who live in the colonias of the Lower Rio Grande Valley.”
Also at the event, U.S. Rep. Rubén Hinojosa, the keynote speaker, presented a congressional proclamation honoring the program’s “outstanding service in the most vulnerable communities” and commending its “efforts to build stronger Texas communities through partnerships and to provide a better quality of life for their residents.”
“It is amazing what you have all achieved,” Hinojosa told the celebrants. "A hand up — not a handout."
There are currently 2,333 colonias in the United States, home to half a million people, and most are located throughout the Texas borderland between El Paso and Brownsville, said Oscar Muñoz, director of the Colonias Program. Though characteristics of these small, rural, unincorporated communities vary, they all generally lack one or more of the physical infrastructure amenities most take for granted: running water, sewer systems, paved roads and storm drainage. Because of their remote locations, poor economic conditions and cultural segregation, colonia residents tend to be isolated from government services and the various social safety nets that provide education, job training and placement, health care, and programs for the young and elderly.