A tiny look at Voz de Niños

My first introduction for Voz de Niños was through its former director, Edgar Ricalde. His wonderful presentation at a Rotary meeting informed members of the key role played by CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteers across the state. In Laredo, though, it is better known as Voz de Niños, but it’s mission is similar to other CASA programs (the following description is from the Texas CASA website):

What A CASA Volunteer Does

CASA volunteers are screened and highly trained and then appointed by judges to represent and advocate for a child’s best interests in the child protection system. CASA volunteers are each assigned to help one child or set of siblings at a time, so they can focus on giving that child or sibling group the individualized advocacy and attention they need. CASA volunteers save taxpayers money and children’s futures by helping children find a safe, permanent homes as soon as possible.

The local Voz de Niños is currently looking for dedicated new volunteers to serve the children of the Laredo and surrounding communities. By the way, in addition to volunteers, they are looking for another fabulous Executive Director.). The numbers of children in the system is astounding. I write this as I prepare to attend the Webb County Child Welfare Board of Directors meeting where we are provided the up-to-date figures of children in foster care and facing care needs. Voz de Niños is the advocate, the go-between, the link between children and the multiple agencies they have to go through. I hope to be able to give you a little more information about the Board of Directors of Voz de Niños and the system that abused and neglected children enter.

Many of you have already entered the drawing for prizes coordinated by Critters and Crayons. Be sure to check out the blog post at Critters and Crayons; and, also LaSanbe’s blog post.

Also follow Voz de Niños on Facebook!

Voz de Ninos header

Good Friday, good eats

I miss my parents’ Lenten cooking. Fridays during Lent were filled with arroz con camarones, chiles rellenos, lentejas and, of course, my favorite capirota. The streets of Laredo seemed so deserted today since 1/2 of the workforce is off for the Easter celebrations. My little store has been empty all morning except for the silver-haired lady who stopped by to offer banana bread. Wish she would have had capirotada :P.

I’m not religious so the weekend will be spent catching up on work but… I can’t stop thinking about food. I saw the morning post on facebook from El Meson de San Agustin (FYI, they are closed Saturday & Monday – darn!). Mouth-watering:

Menu del Viernes 29 de Abril,
SOPITA DEL DIA: Lentejas, Papa y Brocoli…

Pechuga Rellena de Camarones,
Enchiladas Poblanas,
Nopalitos con Tortitas de Camaron,
Camarones Gratinados,
Costillitas de Res en Salsa Huerfana,
Chile Relleno 1 de queso,
Camarones Gratinados……

So, I figured I would live vicariously through you, few readers. My neighbor (fellow non-Christian) promised me a straight-up traditional carne asada but… I want to hear about the special meals you like during this time of the year. What are your favorite Lenten dishes?? What are you planning on cooking?

I’m sharing Presley’s Pantry version of capirotada video from 2012, for those of you who are interested. She cracks me up.

International Women’s Day on twitter and elsewhere


It’s International Women’s Day! A day celebrated worldwide to honor women’s achievements and progress throughout history and today. I have not heard of a specific event celebrating women in Laredo but we are only a few keystrokes away from connecting with those supporting the celebration. On Twitter, you can check out #womensday (or follow @womensday linked to the hub for International Women’s Day activities) or a bit more locally, you can participate in a Twitter party hosted by Las Comadres de las Americas. This was their invitation to join other Latinas at 1:00pm today.

LC tweetchat

“Count on Me: Tales of Sisterhoods and Fierce Friendships” is a recently published anthology by Las Comadres Para Las Americas.

In the book, beloved bestselling Latino authors share moving personal stories of the many ways that sisterly bonds have powerfully impacted their lives.

What would you do, where would you be, without your Comadres?

Join us for a special Tweet chat on International Women’s Day to celebrate our comadres and the stories about them. (If you haven’t yet ordered your book, visit www.CountOnMeBook.com/order – you can get a hard copy or a digital version)

Friday, March 8
11 am PST / 1 pm CST / 2 pm EST
Hosted by Alexandra M. Landeros @UndercoverMexi

To follow the Twitter conversation, log into your Twitter account and enter #lascomadres into the search box. That will bring up our conversation!

If you get lost, feel free to leave a comment here or Tweet @UndercoverMexi

Look forward to seeing you online!

So much to do but if you have some time… enjoy a little jazz for free in honor of Black History Month

Jazz Concert flyer

It’s mid-February!! In Laredo, that means WBCA craziness! My usual participation is only the parade but this year, I may not be around. I WILL be around to enjoy some free jazz at St. Peter’s Plaza in honor of Black History Month – YAY!! While I don’t think I have any ancestors from Africa, I won’t know until I delve a little more into my family tree. What I do know is that I enjoy jazz and it’s importance as a uniquely American tradition. Unfortunately, living in a 90% Hispanic border community, sometimes the richness of other cultures is overshadowed. Not that I am complaining but I do sometimes miss the diversity of other cities I have lived in.

Laredo once celebrated Black History Month when the African-American community was a bit larger during the Fort McIntosh years. From the city of Laredo’s history page:

Due to its proximity to Fort McIntosh, the neighborhood attracted a small enclave of blacks. For a short time in 1865, the post was manned by a company of the 62nd U.S. Colored Infantry. Since that time a number of black units were stationed at the fort, including Company K of the Black Twenty-fifth U.S. Infantry in 1906. The soldiers’ families and their descendants made their homes in El Cuatro and the small barrio across the tracks called El Tonto. Saint James Tabernacle and the Grayson school remain as the only architectural relics of Laredo’s black history.

Check out an article that my friend sent me from 71 years ago. Yes, I said 71 years ago.

I’m not exactly sure where the Grayson School was but I do know that the St. James Tabernacle still stands in the St. Peter’s neighborhood on Hidalgo Street. Laredo is so chock-full of interesting history :). One thing that at first was cutesy but is a fad that is on its way out is the Harlem Shuffle videos. Those now following the fad ignore its origin. Waywire released a video of reactions from those who live in Harlem.

So, enough already; but back to the free concert. Three groups will perform different jazz sets with explanations of their origins. The neighbors of St. Peter’s, as you may recall, work with zero budget and just ask, ask and ask. A big thank you goes to Ric Cortez for volunteering to help set the line-up and bring more awareness to American music traditions.

Unfortunately, we do have a borrowed stage that does need set-up so we are a little short on volunteers. If you have a bit of time, stop by St. Peter’s Plaza to help unload stage pieces borrowed from Laredo Community College (Thank you, LCC!!) and assemble them before noon. If not, no worries, but we do hope to see you at 6pm with your own chair or blanket to enjoy the evening. Unless, of course, you prefer Tejano music and will be heading out to the Jalapeño Festival or The Society of Martha Washington Colonial Pageant & Ball or the Caballeros Cocktail Party or one of the other great scheduled activities for WBCA’s celebration – all great events – all can be fun and all give Laredo a different kind of flavor. Enjoy your Friday!!

January 1, 2010 was the start of this here lil blog. So – happy new year to all and happy anniversary to me last month. Yes, I know my blogging has been spotty.

It isn’t that I don’t have stuff rolling around in my head. Those of you who know me personally know that I try to keep up with the goings-on in Laredo and carry my camera everywhere – the issue is time, time, time. Much has changed since my wheelchair-bound days and the biggest change has been the start of my little business and increase in responsibilities. One thing I have discovered is that I suck as a businesswoman but it is getting better. El Partner is now my ex-partner but he is still a great friend and supporter. Today I celebrate our friendship and all those who have shared their lives with me and let me into theirs. I am reblogging last year’s post because I still support el Día de el Amor y la Amistad.

During the new year’s celebration, I had the good fortune to have my parents visit. Although it’s a month and a half old, here is a wish from my mom and me:


Rest in Peace, Esther Buckley

EstherOur deepest sympathies to the Buckley family. Esther Buckley was a wonderful woman who gave much to the Laredo community with her intelligence and strength.  She was a GREAT person to work with and although we may not have agreed on everything, she was   Her passing is a loss to all.  May she rest in peace and her family find solace.

UFO Conference in Laredo

I can barely catch my breath these days. I have several conflicting events for this weekend but very quickly I wanted to share the schedule for the Laredo UFO conference taking place at TAMIU’s Student Center Ballroom.

The day ends with watching of the night sky with Laredo’s biggest telescope owned by the Laredo Paranormal Research Society, who, by the way, are hosting the conference (details here) for the very first time- woot woot! You will be able to see the moons of Jupiter if the night remains clear.

The KGNS (NBC Affiliate) had a pretty good story about UFOs and the conference. Click on this link to see the story.

Hope you can make one, two or all sessions. Cost is only $10. Check it out:

If you can’t make it, be sure to get your portrait taken at The Bazaar at the French Quarter for the Los Dos Laredos Inside Out Project: Somos Hermanos. The first donated space has been announced and the 1st portraits will be going up on the Rio Grande Plaza hotel parking lot wall.

Or you can bag food at Volunteers Serving the Need. Their goal is to have 200 extra bags packed. Check out their volunteer opportunities from their November newsletter and don’t forget to help out a vet:

Zombie Walkers Make A Difference

Laredo is a buzzzzz… I would love to say it is because of Make A Difference Day but it actually has more to do with ZOMBIES. Combined together, though, zombies can also make a difference!

A collaboration amongst QuickTurtle Productions, St. Peter’s Historic Neighborhood Association, Laredo Paranormal Research Society, Laredo’s Parks and Leisure and volunteers from Girl Scout Troop #91062, Konqueror, The Bender Antiguo Hotel, Totem Strategies and others resulted in a multi-layered event for Make A Difference Day. The Zombie Walk was the 1st Laredo community service event listed on the official Make A Difference Day database.

The concept is simple – show up as a zombie or get to the St. Peter’s area early for help with make-up to look like a zombie. In order to participate, you bring a donations. Anything. Bag of clothes, box of food, furniture, heck – even scrap metal or a simple cash donation. In return, you get your receipt which is your admission ticket to participate in the Zombie Walk.

If you want a little extra, participate in the Laredo Paranormal Research Society’s presentation for $5 at a local residence. But prepare yourself – it’ll be dark, it will be real and it will make your skin crawl.

Don’t care for zombies or collected sounds of the paranormal? Just visit St. Peter’s neighborhood to donate and give a helping hand to the only food pantry for veterans with financial need, Volunteers Serving the Need. The neighbors of St. Peter’s want you to know about Laredo’s early history. Maybe you will even spot one of the green parakeets of Laredo that only live in the downtown area. You might even meet Pete, the parrot. Or everyone’s darling, Russ the Downtown Hound. Russy even offered the following advice on his Facebook page:

I can’t wait for visiting zombies to check out MY part of town. Don’t worry, I may bark but I won’t bite… unlike… certain zombies I know. The best tips from this humble hound of yours:

1) Park in residential St. Peter’s and WALK to the Bender – you will avoid tickets and traffic. Avoid blocking the plaza for those coming to drop off donations – help us make this smooth for everyone.

2) If yo
u want make-up applied, do it EARLY because the 1//2 hour before 6:30pm when it all starts is going to be crunch time.

3) If you prefer to donate at VSTN earlier than 3pm, the thrift store is on Salinas at the TexMex RR lines. They will also give you a tax receipt to use as admission in to the Bender. The SIFE students will be helping them out for Make A Difference Day at the offices, too.

4) The LPRS presentations can only handle a certain size of group at one time every 15 minutes and will be $5 fee. Be patient and be organized and make sure you walk around St. Peter’s neighborhood to check out the homes while you wait.

5) The plaza will not have chairs for the movie. You can bring your own or borrow a blanket from us but please be sure to give it back – they will be given back to VSTN.

6) We plan these events from our hearts but we are not many. If you want to volunteer with transporting donations & clean-up at the end of the night, let us know.

7) You can go to just the zombie walk, just the LPRS ghost tour, just donate, just walk the neighborhood, just to come visit me or… any combination of the above!!

8) Be respectful of our homes and pets, we neighbors want you to know us and Laredo history and hope you come back!

There you go, humans (for today), the rough ruff of tips from me, Russ the downtown hound. “Like” me if you want to know more about what happens downtown or add St. Peter’s Historic Neighborhood Association.

Oh yeah. Talking dogs and zombies… Hope to see you there!

Los Dos Laredos Inside Out Project: Somos Hermanos

Let’s do it! Well, that is what I said when I signed on to help bring the Inside Out Project to this area. So today, Saturday, October 13th, will be our first photo shoot of random people at the SIFE Bazaar at the French Quarter on DelMar – of course, here in Laredo.

The Inside Out project is taking place all across the world. Each project creates a video of their process. This one is from Spain. Check it out:

In choosing a theme, we thought of the sad divide of the Laredos. For so many generations, it was such a give and take and families had relatives living on one side or the other – sometimes living on both sides of the geopolitical boundary and crossing daily. So we chose Somos Hermanos, because we are two countries but share familial ties.

We have had a bit of a challenge when we describe the project to others. The first thing we keep being told is to seek big money or that so-and-so can help if their name is put on it. Uhm, no thank you. As a matter of fact, street artist JR, originator of this project who won the TED Prize in 2011 and used his prize money to make this idea go global, is often heard saying “no credit, no logos, no sponsoring” – ha, that sounds like most of my projects :P. To keep its grassroots grassy, we are asking for a $30 donation to help defray the costs and because this is a community project, it will be funded by the people participating.

Check out the video of JR one year after he was awarded the TED prize:

Big ups to our volunteer professional photographers Jesus Garcia and Ari Farias and video support Jennifer Sanchez and many others who are providing tech support and more importantly – moral support. “Like” our page on Facebook to watch other videos and follow the progress of the project. Our target for the first work day will be in January 2013 so if you are so inclined, let us know if you want to help. Hope to see you at one of the photo shoots!

If you are reading this, you were just touched by social media

The Que Fregados blog is on the go and LATISM (Latinos in Social Media) conference in Houston is our next destination! I know most readers of this blog don’t know me but for some reason, you are still reading this little blog. I have considerably slowed down after starting my small, tiny, microscopic business that takes up quite a bit of my time. Even though I am not posting daily, you would be surprised at the number of readers who check in every day. One of these days, I might share my stats, one of these days.

Unfortunately, in Laredo, social media often goes unrecognized for the impact it truly has on our daily lives. Even those without access to the internet are sometimes heard saying, “Pues mi amigo vio en Twitter, Facebook, Google+, MySpace, blogs, email, etc. …” (well my friend saw on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, MySpace, blogs, email, etc. …). So if national media is telling us of the shift in how we consume information and keeps telling us that we (us commoners – ha) are generating the information faster than regular media, why not attend a conference to help me understand the cultural shift a little more?? Right?

I did invite fellow local bloggers to attend LATISM but most of us are employed full-time and have a hard time getting away; but, I’ll be repping the LRD and schmoozing with others who make social media their careers, including blogger buddy Juan of Words whose background reminds me of mine and who encouraged me to attend. He can chastise me in person for run-ons and starting sentences with “and” :).

Because Latino Social Media day was October 10th, a couple local bloggers and I had wanted to help shed a little light on how we are moved by social media. Unfortunately time ran out but you will be hearing from us soon – either on KLNT on 1490am (thank you, Richard, for showing interest in interviewing us!) or when we organize a little shindig to hopefully encourage other voices in Laredo to share their perspective using a blog format.

It is not a stretch to tell you that even today, those on social media shared the common theme of cell phone and internet problems. It’s causing frustration that was vocalized on Twitter, Facebook and I am sure in other ways. Not all the information is accurate but at least someone, somewhere is asking the question and sharing what they know. Check out a few entries:

So if you are so inclined and want to join in on how sharing via social media, is caring, consider the Latinos in Social Media conference coming up October 25 – 27, 2012 in Houston. If not, pues, ni modo, voy sola.

Hopefully I will be able to write about some interesting projects I am working on like the Inside Out Project (1st photo shoot this Saturday at the SIFE Bazaar at the French Quarter), Laredo’s Zombie Walk, Comadrazo (tonight), and the UFO Conference. Maybe, just maybe, I can also tell you about some of the stuff taking place in Laredo – darn this schedule of mine, though!!