Buckner President and CEO Albert Reyes gave a keynote speech on the themes of hope, community strength and service to nearly 700 people at the 2020 Longview Chamber of Commerce Banquet this week.
Each year, the Longview Chamber of Commerce holds its annual banquet to celebrate the accomplishments of businesses and entrepreneurs in the city. This year was particularly special, marking the 150th anniversary of Longview, while also honoring the Chamber’s recognition as the 2019 Chamber of the Year by the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives.
Between the milestone anniversary and the national award, the room was buzzing with energy and excitement at Longview’s economic future.
“Building strong families is the way we build strong communities, strong cities, stronger state and a stronger country,” Reyes said when explaining the mission and impact of Buckner Family Hope Centers, like the one built in Longview four years earlier.
Reyes gave inspiring examples of the people and families made stronger by the Family Hope Center at Longview and how their success directly led to the success of others.
Like Blanca and Luz, two ESL students who completed all of the Family Hope Center’s classes and how they are now teaching beginner’s English classes to others while encouraging their friends to learn English in order to be better parents, community members and citizens.
And Dani Castillo-Rios, who found herself homeless not long after returning from serving in the U.S. Army. Through work with another local nonprofit, Family Promise, and Buckner Project HOPES and the Family Hope Center, Castillo-Rios made a better life for her and her child.
And then there was the story of Vanessa Morgan, a grandmother who used the Family Hope Center’s resources and classes, like Jobs for Life, to break the cycle of poverty and show her children and grandchildren there is a better, more fulfilling life available to them.
“We discovered that what families needed was hope,” Reyes explained. “Hope that things would get better. Hope that they would be able to take care of the needs of their children. Hope that their kids would have a better future. Hope that they would get to a place where they could dream again, feel safe again, and arrive at some level of a normal and healthy family life.
“Blanca and Luz, Dani and Vanessa all represent our best work with families. They found a place to dream, a place to prosper and a place to contribute to this community.”
In 2019, Buckner collaborated with the Longview Chamber of Commerce to conduct a community survey as a baseline for a new vision for Longview as a health community. Reyes shared an overview of the results with the audience, as well as his suggestion on next steps – and then he issued a challenge.
“There is a lot of good going on in Longview, for sure. But could it be better? Could Longview be the best? It’s your call.”
Buckner is making a difference in East Texas one family at a time, but it takes the compassion and commitment of the community to support true change.