The Buckner Family Hope Center at Peñitas in the Rio Grande Valley has been designated a Community of Faith and Opportunity by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Through a collaborative process between Buckner leaders and the USDA, the Valley has been recognized as a community that will continue to serve and help assist other communities across the country in fostering hope and opportunity.
The designation sparked a “conversation” between the USDA and Buckner leaders on ways to alleviate poverty and food insecurity, as well as strengthen and preserve families, shared Family Hope Center Director Diego Silva.
“This designation speaks to the effectiveness and efficiency of the Buckner Family Hope Center model in strengthening families,” he said. “Moving forward, I believe we will be able to have a seat at the table in the ongoing conversation on many issues, and I am excited to see the work Buckner has done over 140 years communicated to a wider audience, as well as placing us as thought leaders on a national scale.”
As a Community of Faith and Opportunity, the Family Hope Center also will be empowered to continue to serve vulnerable families and children in the community. The designation offers custom-tailored technical assistance that will further the Buckner mission and recognizes the Rio Grande Valley as a strategic area in the United States for growth and opportunity.
“The USDA sees the Valley as a region with much potential and is strategically investing in our area as a key partner. This designation speaks to the resiliency and entrepreneurial spirit of the people who call the Valley home,” Silva said. “We have amazing organizations from the public, private and faith-based sectors that are working together to identify issues and come up with innovative solutions to make both the Valley and the U.S. a better place.”
Fulfilling the requirements for this designation required leaders to look long-term and work closely together to create a Fellowship Council that focuses on skill building, strategic planning and specific recommendations for improvement.
“It is a real pleasure to designate the Buckner Family Hope Center as a Community of Faith and Opportunity,” said Mike Beatty, Director of the Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “We are thankful for Buckner and their partners as we all work together to foster hope and opportunity, wealth creation and asset building in our rural and underserved communities.”
Access to new resources through this collaboration will create opportunities for growth and learning for the Family Hope Center and communities nation-wide.
“We are so grateful to those at the USDA, especially Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, director of the USDA Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement Mike Beatty and our USDA Liaison, Ruby S. De La Garza. It is an honor, and a humbling experience, to work side-by-side with local leaders,” Silva shared.