Life in a Shelter a Reality for Many Children

Posted 11/20/2012 5:38 PM

BROWNSVILLE - Homeless shelters offer people in need a refuge and some sense of comfort. They also can be a source of emotional pain to some of the most vulnerable residents. The Ozanam Center in... - read full story -

Children and their Perception of Poverty

Posted 11/19/2012 9:05 PM

DONNA - Poverty skews a child's perception of life. Many of the students at Donna's Daniel Sigleterry Elementary School live in poverty. The school district is in one of the poorest regions in the... - read full story -

Miguel's Land

Posted 11/15/2012 9:03 PM

HIDALGO COUNTY - A boy in Hidalgo County is holding on to the dream of helping his family move into a better house. Miguel Serna, 11, and his family live with the bare minimum. Their home is a small,... - read full story -

Outpouring of Support for Outreach Group

Posted 11/15/2012 7:59 PM

McALLEN - Volunteers are coming forward and donations are pouring in to a local outreach organization. Founders of Infinite Love said they are getting an overwhelming response from CHANNEL 5 NEWS'... - read full story -

Glimmer of Hope for a Homeless Mother

Posted 11/14/2012 8:31 PM

HIDALGO COUNTY - A homeless woman in McAllen may soon have a place to call home. The woman and her two children would spend their nights at a McAllen park. But that soon may be a fading memory. Cold... - read full story -

Reporters' Notebook

  • Teen Pregnancy: A Daughter's View

    November 12, 2012

    The topic of teen pregnancy usually strikes a very personal cord with people. I knew the challenges of telling this story before ever shooting a... more »

  • The Planning Process

    October 30, 2012

    Hi friends. I wanted to share my thought process behind the CHANNEL 5 NEWS special report "Children of Hope."

    The planning process started months ago. The... more »

  • The Night Before School

    October 30, 2012

    Francisca Salazar agreed to allow us into her colonia apartment the night before the first day of school.

    My photographer, Luis Guiterrez, and I didn't know... more »

  • Highs, Lows and a Chocolate Chip Cookie

    October 30, 2012

    We spent several weeks with the family. We followed the children as they went off to school on their first day. We went with the... more »

  • A Trip to the Grocery Store

    October 30, 2012

    There are so many things I learned from Francisca and her children. I learned there's no use in judging anyone or their situation. I never... more »

  • Putting the Report Together

    October 30, 2012

    Putting this particular special report together was extremely difficult to me. Our cameras are good. But sometimes they can't capture certain things, like smells and... more »


Buckner International

Viewers can learn more about Buckner, find local volunteer opportunities and give online at To reach us by phone, please call 956-585-4847. The direct link to Buckner in the Rio Grande Valley is here:


United Way of South Texas

United Way of South Texas

United Way of South Texas helps youth succeed, strengthens and supports families. Provides employment placement for the disabled, elderly assistance, transportation assistance, emergency shelter, CPR training, and many other critical services.

1200 E. Hackberry, Suite F
McAllen, TX 78501
Phone: (956) 686-6331
Fax: (956) 686-8430


More Resources By County


Good Neighbor Settlement
Contact: Leo Gonzalez 956-466-5144

Helps people to enable themselves. Provides daily meals, emergency food pantry, showers for homeless, clothing, afterschool tutorials and rental assistance, among other services.

Ozanam Center

656 North Minnesota Avenue
Contact: Dir. Victor Maldonado (956) 831-6331

The non-profit organization serves as a homeless shelter serving individuals and families in the area who are in need of emergency housing assistance.

Cameron County Housing Authority
65 Castellano Circle Brownsville, TX 78526
(956) 541-4983

Provides low-income families with safe, decent and affordable housing in addition to promoting programs that will lead to economic self-sufficiency and enhance the quality of life.

Loaves and Fishes
514 South E Street Harlingen, TX 78550
(956) 423-1014

The Loaves & Fishes kitchen serves breakfast and dinner seven days a week to anyone who asks for a meal. The non-profit agency offers the homeless and needy a place to go restart their lives in a caring and supportive environment.



Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley
700 N. Virgin de San Juan Blvd
San Juan
(956) 702-4088

Catholic Charities is the charitable branch of the Diocese of Brownsville. Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley has projects that provide assistance to the poor and most vulnerable population in our community. It is part of the larger family of Catholic Charities USA and Caritas Internacionalis.

The Salvation Army

1600 N. 23rd
(956) 682-1468

The Salvation Army of McAllen has been in the forefront of social development, working with people from disadvantaged economic, social and family circumstances. The Salvation Army has actively sought to enrich the lives of people whom other agencies fail to reach. The Salvation Army is dedicated to ensuring that our community's disadvantaged have greater access to quality programs and services that will enhance their lives and shape their futures.

Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid (TRLA)

300 S. Texas Blvd
(956) 447-4827

Non-profit organization provides free legal services to low-income residents in sixty-eight counties of Southwest Texas, and represents migrant and seasonal farm workers throughout the state of Texas and six southern states. TRLA operates public defender programs in several Southwest Texas counties, representing the poor who are accused of felonies, misdemeanors and juvenile crimes.

Valley Initiative for Development and Advancement (VIDA)
1715 E. Pike Blvd
(956) 447-0600 | (956) 973-8600

Nonprofit agency empowers the underserved residents of the region with the tools, education and training to become self-sufficient and in tandem, fuel the growth of the existing employers and increase the recruitment of new investment to the area by developing a highly skilled workforce.

Advocacy Resource Center for Housing
2507 Buddy Owens
(956) 631-4277

Helps people seeking assistance on housing issues. The program assists individuals and families with limited income by providing individual case management to help clients sort through the minimal housing options available, stressing financial literacy to help them stay within their budget. ARCH efforts have helped hundreds of individuals and families remain in their homes.

Valley AIDS Council
(956) 668-1155

Valley AIDS Council (VAC) is a private, non-profit organization which provides primary outpatient care and support services to men, women and children living with HIV/AIDS in South Texas.

Greenpath Debt Solutions
956-682-7381 | 956-428-0072 | 956-504-3953

GreenPath Debt Solutions is a nationwide, non-profit financial organization that assists consumers with credit card debt, housing debt and bankruptcy concerns. Offices in McAllen, Harlingen, and Brownsville.


Affordable Homes of South Texas
(956) 630-1442 | (956) 664-9459

Affordable Homes of South Texas, Inc. is a community-based nonprofit organization enhancing the quality of life by providing affordable housing and related services to eligible families.

Baptist Temple

(956) 686-5296

The church provides partial assistance with electricity, gas, or water bills every first Tuesday of the month from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. People applying for help must comply with certain prerequisites and posses a disconnect notice. The church will provide help on a first-come, first-serve basis. The church also serves as a distribution point for the Rio Grande Valley Food Bank on the first and third Thursday of the month between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. You are urged to contact the RGV Food Bank for more information.


City of Edinburg/Community Service Agency
Electricity and gas assistance
(956) 383-6240

Mujeres Unidas
(956) 664-2826

Mujeres Unidas provides emergency shelter and support programs to women, men and children who are victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse. Programs include counseling and emotional support.

Holy Spirit Church
(956) 631-5295

St. Vincent De Paul organization funded by parishioners. Provides services for parts of McAllen. Food pantry on Wednsesdays and assistance with electricity and water bills.

Infinite Love

4514 S. McColl
Edinburg, Texas 78539
Phone: (956) 627-4245

Infinite love is a not-for-profit, volunteer-run organization inspired by love and created to support the underprivileged, those with disabilities and chronic illnesses, and the families that care for them. Our mission is to cultivate the spirit of the South Texas Community by offering emotional, spiritual, and resource-based support, providing insight and tools to foster personal growth, promoting peace and overall quality of life.



Community Action Council of South Texas
P.O. Drawer 98
510 East Eisenhower Street
Rio Grande City, Texas 78582
(956) 487-2585

The Community Action Council of South Texas maintains a comprehensive human services network in Duval County, Jim Hogg County, Starr County, Zapata County and other Texas counties geared to help people to become self-sufficient.


South Texas Development Council
1002 Dicky Lane
Laredo, Texas 78043

STDC provides a variety of client services in Starr, Zapata, Webb, and Jim Hogg Counties, including:

  • Electric bill assistance for the poor (must meet certain guidelines), elderly and disabled
  • Meals and nutrition assistance for people over 60
  • Benefit counseling for the elderly
  • Temporary home health provider assistance
  • Minor residential repairs for the elderly




Willacy County Housing Authority
200 E Kimball Ave.
Raymondville, TX
(956) 689-2733

The Willacy County Housing Authority's purpose is to assist families by providing adequate and affordable facilities to live in and a pleasant residential environment that is safe. Our objective becomes attainable through various local, state and federal programs we run and are available to our local citizens.


Meet the Roundtable Panelists

Carlos CascosCarlos H. Cascos
Cameron County Judge

Carlos Cascos is a certified public accountant, certified government financial manager, and a diplomat of the American Board of Forensic Accounting.

Prior to becoming Cameron County's top elected official, the judge was a member of the Department of Public Safety, a Cameron County Commissioner for 12 years and actively involved in many civic organizations including the United Way of Southern Cameron County, Sunrise Rotary Club, Leadership Brownsville, Cameron County Appraisal District, Brownsville Economic Development Council and the Brownsville Metropolitan Planning Organization.

Ramon GarciaRamon Garcia
Hidalgo County Judge

Ramon Garcia is an attorney with a law practice in Edinburg. Over the years, he has given his time to community service. He was a member of the Board of Regents for Pan American University from 1983 to 1987. Most recently, he served as a member of the Regional Mobility Authority. The judge has received several awards for his service to the community.

Roberto LoredoRoberto F. Loredo
Donna Independent School District Superintendent

Roberto Loredo says his mission "is to ensure academic excellence for all students through a rigorous and supportive learning environment that provides a quality education in accordance with state and national standards.


Ricardo BrambilaRicardo Brambila
Community Transformation Center Program Director
Buckner Children & Family Services

Buckner Children and Family Services works throughout the Rio Grande Valley to support vulnerable children and families living in poverty. Brambila is the program director for Buckner's Community Transformation Center in Penitas, Texas.

The center focuses on improving the lives of individuals and families in communities that experience moderate to extreme poverty. The CTC offers ministry, case management, parenting classes and access to computers. Volunteers there give out free vitamins and shoes to children.

Thelma Longoria
Community Council of the Rio Grande Valley Executive Director

Thelma Longoria oversees the Community Council of the Rio Grande Valley, better known as 211 Texas. The council is responsible for 211 services in Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr and Willacy Counties. The council offers public education and presentations on health services.

Longoria also manages a summer food program that provides children with the same nutritious meals they receive during the school year. The organization also aids Texas military families with help they might need. The Community Council of the Rio Grande Valley also assists with childcare for parents who work, attend school or participate in job training.

Toni Botello
Community Action Council of South Texas

Toni Botello helps run the Community Action Council of South Texas. The council feeds the elderly and provides clothing for babies. It also makes tools available so homeowners can improve their properties.

Botello has worked with the CACST for 10 years, but she has more than 40 years of community action agency experience. Botello has certificates in substance abuse program management and federal poverty programs administration.


Meet Francisca Salazar and Her Family of 5

Juan VictorJuan Victor
4 years old

Juan Victor is Francisca Salazar's youngest son. He is full of energy, a spitfire and constantly on the move. Juan Victor is a fearless and curious little boy. He's fascinated by technology and how things work. This is his first year at Silva Elementary. He likes to go to school.


5 years old

Ruby is Francisca Salazar's youngest daughter. She is shy and sweet. She likes to play outside with the children in her neighborhood. She is the target of Juan Victor's antics. Ruby recently lost her two front teeth. She will celebrate her sixth birthday in November.


7 years old
1st grade

Daniella is the self-proclaimed diva of the family. Daniella likes purses and anything pink, shiny and fluffy. She worries about the future of her family. Daniella saves any bit of spare change she can and hands it over to her mother. Daniella excels in school. She is an honor roll student. The little girl struggles with asthma.


9 years old
2nd grade

Monica is Francisca Salazar's oldest daughter. She is reserved and quiet. Monica's favorite toy is a Barbie doll. Monica helps her mother at home. She watches over her brothers and sisters. Monica is the only daughter who speaks English. She's joined a creative writing group and participates in the program whenever her mom can find a ride to pick Monica up from the afterschool program.


11 years old
5th grade
He's Francisca Salazar's oldest child. With no father at home, Sergio has risen the ranks to become the man of the house. Sergio knows his mother is in the United States of America illegally. He says he is going to apply to get her citizenship on his 18th birthday. Sergio is constantly looking for ways to help his family make money. He wants to start doing yard work for profit.


27 years old

Francisca Salazar is a single mother to five children. She is pregnant with her sixth child. She's a native of Mexico. She was smuggled into the United States of America several times. She says she illegally crossed so her children could be born here. Francisca says she'd like to get her tubes tied, so she won't have any more babies. She signed the paperwork to authorize the procedure. She's now looking for ways to afford the pregnancy-preventing procedure. Francisca used to clean houses.

She used to sell clothing and food at flea markets across the Rio Grande Valley. She says this latest pregnancy, which doctors deemed risky, prevents her from working. She doesn't have a car. She doesn't own a phone. Some months, she can't afford to pay rent. Her parents, who live in Mexico, are able to send her money ever so often. Francisca firmly believes her children will graduate from high school and move on to live fulfilling and successful lives.