By Roberto Hugo Gonzalez
Texas Border Business
VAMOS is a dream come true for graduating high school seniors of the Rio Grande Valley. This organization strives to secure funding and options for a four-year high-end college education.
On September 16, 2021, The Valley Alliance of Mentors for Opportunities and Scholarships (VAMOS) celebrated a milestone accomplishment that took place at Rancho Guadalupe in Edinburg. VAMOS is a non-profit organization that has managed to grant scholarships to 1,016 students during the 25 years that it has been operating the organization. In total, scholarship dollars have been over twenty-one million.
VAMOS was established in 1996, that’s 25 years ago, by a local group of community leaders who gathered at Mr. Alonzo Cantu’s residence. It was Mr. Cantu who called the meeting to share with them what he felt was coming and very needed. Canada, Mexico, and the United States had signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and created a trilateral trade bloc in North America in 1992. The agreement came into force on January 1, 1994.
Cantu felt that a strong force of well-trained and educated people was needed to make the Rio Grande Valley the main base for this trilateral international bloc.
At the time, education opportunities were scarce; most families made their living working in “las piscas”, the area was primarily agricultural.
The need to open education opportunities was vital; the work ahead was immeasurable. After more than two decades, the dream is still on and looking brighter than ever. Year after year, VAMOS becomes better and stronger, giving full four-year scholarships and mentoring included.
Cantu said that NAFTA would transform the Rio Grande Valley, the plan to educate the children was immediate. He said that children needed to aim to get a degree.
VAMOS continues to operate with volunteers. Mr. Cantu is now Chairman Emeritus, but still very much hands-on. Heading the day-to-day operations is Daisy Martinez. She adopted the founders’ dream and promised to move forward to help reach the goals that at the beginning only seemed like a dream. This effort has been successful because of a team, a great team of volunteers that also take part as the board of directors and work hard to make it happen.
So, the 25-year celebration was to celebrate the students’ accomplishments and the past and current donors who helped make a positive impact within the students’ lives and the community.
Volunteers and donors are diamonds for this program. Often, VAMOS celebrates events to recruit more members who want to give back to their communities by investing in education. It doesn’t have to be a financial donation. It can just be time. Anyone, professionals, or businesspeople, can assist with mentoring scholarship recipients to help guide them and ensure that they’re on track to attain that four-year college degree.
There is always the need for volunteers with fundraising. Annually, VAMOS awards between 750,000 to $1 million in scholarships.
The celebration was a time to say Thank You for the last 25 years of commitment of all the VAMOS members and the board of directors. VAMOS continues to provide young students an opportunity to go to college.
It was also said that VAMOS affords to help high school graduating students because of people who continue to contribute financially and with their time. The board of directors’ hard work helps positively impact all our youth in the Rio Grande Valley.
Thank you to the VAMOS organization for the excellent work that marks the beginning of a bright future for young students. The original goal of educating is still in full force; it was a timely idea that does not expire. Its foundation in good faith and credibility continues to benefit the youth of the Rio Grande Valley.
There is a big future ahead of us, also a mountain of work. Join VAMOS today and feel the joy of paying it forward.
Our mission is to assist commendable Hispanic students of Hidalgo, Starr, and Cameron Counties in completing a postsecondary education through a four-year renewable scholarship and mentoring.
Board of Directors: Alonzo Cantú, Chairman Emeritus; Dr. Armando Moncada, President; Armando Adame, Vice President; Joe Quiroga, Treasurer; Tito Salinas, Secretary; and Members: S. David Deanda, Sonia Falcón, Linda Tovar, Richard Cantú, Randy Pérez, Johnny Oliva