"Since I grew up in a really strict Christian family, it was hard to express myself", said Daniel Falcon. (Kimberly Garcia/Borderzine.com)

Fledgling media project born in El Paso aims to promote tolerance on a global scale

EL PASO – Sitting on the couch, a shy look on his face, he looks at his boyfriend working on a laptop. Almost as if sensing his anxiety the boyfriend flashes a reassuring smile. He responds back with a smile, takes a deep breath, his shy demeanor replaced with confidence. “I have had people tell me that I was going to burn in hell,” said Daniel Falcon, 22, “that I should reconsider my sexuality.”  Falcon, a recent nursing grad, speaks of the stigma and criticism of being gay that he faces in his everyday life. “It has happened to me a couple of times that if I’m holding my partner’s hand [people] have something to say to me,” said Falcon.

The Urban Art-Fitters League of El Paso working on "Winter wonderland" at Fourth St. (Iris Lopez/Borderzine.com)

Local artists intend to beautify downtown El Paso one alley at a time

El PASO – Sun City artists are showcasing their art in the sun. The main goal of the Urban Art-Fitters League of El Paso is to beautify the streets of downtown El Paso, one alley at a time.  Their theme is to “make love not war.”

After a tragic car accident took the lives of Jeannette Lazaro and Evalynn Rose, both close friends of Silver IsReal, he found a way to deal with the grief and keep the spirit of both girls alive. With this concept in mind, he and Carlo Mendo cofounded the Urban Art-Fitters Street Gallery project. “Make love not war was the last thing that Jeanette wrote on her mirror before she passed away, and it is something that I keep really close to my heart. I wanted to keep her and Evalynn’s spirit alive so I started the ‘Make love not war’ project” IsReal said.

The Salvation Army at El Paso. (Lucia Quinonez/Borderzine.com)

The need for the holiday giving spirit is alive all year long

EL PASO – This border city is well known for being charitable, especially when the holidays roll around, but El Paso has been hit hard by the weakened national economy, which means that community volunteering and donations are on a decline even though there is a greater need than ever. Nonprofit organizations such as the West Texas Food Bank, the Rescue Mission of El Paso and the Salvation Army need plenty of donations and volunteers year round, not only during the holiday season. Nick Maskill, a driver at the Rescue Mission of El Paso told Borderzine that many people donate during the holidays. “Everybody wants to give to somebody,” he said. Yet at other times, these nonprofit organizations have a hard time keeping up with the need in this growing city.

La Casa del Migrante alberga sufrimiento, ofrece esperanza

TIJUANA — Pasa la media noche y una camioneta blanca ahuyenta a los perros callejeros mientras se estaciona a dejar más migrantes que llegan cansados, hambrientos y otros hasta moribundos a la Casa del Migrante en Tijuana, Baja California. “Pedro” es un migrante que vivió por 14 años en Van Nuys, CA y prefirió guardar su identidad. Al tratar de regresar a California por Tecate, Baja California, con un grupo de ocho compañeros sus planes no fueron como planeaba. “Traían pistolas, inclusive me pusieron la pistola en la cabeza, una 3-57… ellos querían que dijera que yo era (el) guía y lo tuve que decir para que no me siguieran golpeando”, afirmó. Al intentar cruzar La Rumorosa, todos fueron secuestrados por un grupo de delincuentes.

Taking the canvas out of the frame

EL PASO — I belong to art and photography groups in El Paso and a couple are non-profit organizations. In one, I serve on the Board of Managers. The President of that association was looking to change the style of leadership that had been used. The President empowered the Board saying take charge of your responsibilities, think outside the box, if you need assistance let me know. How did I become involved?

ServeSa: Bringing hope to San Antonio’s refugees from across the globe

SAN ANTONIO — After seeing a video online of struggling refugees in need of assistance to assimilate into the San Antonio area where that they have been relocated, Emmanuel Roldan decided to jump in and do something. Roldan, 22 and a full-time student, decided to start an organization, ServeSA, to aid refugees and immigrants of limited means who need help adapting to life in this Southwest U.S. city. “Our main focus is to really empower individuals and different organizations to serve the community they are located in,” Roldan said. When the organization launched in January of 2010, mainly worked with homeless individuals. But after it opened a center, Haven for Hope, in May of last year, its primary focus shifted from the homeless to refugees.

A Campus Inside A Barrio Wrapped in a Metroplex

EL PASO — The future of Segundo Barrio is not white or brown, but green. Such is the view of Centro de Salud Familiar La Fe, a health and human services organization that contends economic power will decide the fate of this historic neighborhood in south central El Paso. It is a decidedly pragmatic approach for a non-profit born in the grassroots movements of the 1960’s and grounded in social justice. A visit to the La Fe “campus” reveals an organization that appears to be thriving. In 1992, La Fe consisted of one health clinic, 65 employees and a budget of $3 million, mostly federal funds.

Creative Kids: ten years motivating youth through art and more

EL PASO — When Andrea Ingle invited her husband Stephen to teach her special education class at Canutillo Middle School with the little left over art supplies she had, the couple had no idea it would lead to their life’s work providing an artistic outlet to children and teenagers throughout the border region. That classroom experience combined with their own backgrounds in the arts was the spark for creating a non-profit organization, Creative Kids Inc., that uses the power of the arts to help youth, including teenagers at risk of dropping out, to achieve academic and personal success. Ten years later, Creative Kids has a main studio and gallery in a 16,000-square-foot warehouse called the OLO Gallery (Other Learning Opportunities) at the recently renovated Union Plaza Arts District in downtown El Paso. The organization serves over 600 youth a year ranging in age from 4 to 18, and provides special programs for children battling cancer, children with disabilities, and disadvantaged and at-risk youth. It also has a long list of impressive local, regional and national sponsors, from the National Endowment for the Arts, Texas Commission on the Arts to the City of El Paso and the Hunt Family Foundation.

Women in need find a haven at the Frontera Women’s Foundation

EL PASO, Texas – A few basics of daily life like laundry detergent, toiletries and some medical essentials such as new dentures help 11 families with 30 children stay on track at a lower valley non-profit homeless shelter. The Reynolds house shelters families –mostly women and their children– who have fled from domestic violence in Juarez and who need some help getting back on their feet. This low-key shelter opened its doors 20 years ago when Director Dorothy Truax’s mother inherited her parent’s house. “The time she inherited it I had a brother who was working with homeless families and individuals and he used to bring them home to mom when he couldn’t find enough space. When she got this home she thought it would be a perfect place for the families.”

Throughout the last year-and-a-half the Reynolds house has housed an increase in families fleeing economic problems and the violence in Juarez.  The majority of the residents, however, are there because of domestic violence.