Creating a lasting partnership

LA FERIA — When the UTRGV College of Medicine approached City Manager Jaime Sandoval about the desire to create a partnership with the small community, he said, “What do we have to do?”

Sandoval said the university’s new medical school community initiative will have office space available for them at the city’s new dome shelter and recreation center.

It will be used for educational programs and community outreach programs for residents.

City commissioners formally agreed to partner with the university and offer the college office space at a recent city meeting.

“We are excited to have UTRGV in the community,” Sandoval said. “The goal is to have the university presence here two to three days a week.”

The university initiative, called Valor, is a community-university partnership between the city and the UTRGV School of Medicine interpersonal education.

College students will focus their efforts educating the community through the outreach program.

Sandoval said the effort will also focus on serving the surrounding communities and colonias near the city.

He emphasized it will be up to the residents to participate to ensure the success of the partnership.

Sandoval said the school will have the community space available for its students to use until they can find a permanent space once they begin providing the services.

A total of 25 students comprised of four teams will be involved in the program during college semesters.

Each of the teams will focus on community-based educational programs ranging from medicine, nursing, nutrition, engineering, biology and Spanish disciplines.

Last February, university students met with community members to discuss needs and ideas to focus their efforts.

Sandoval said the community came up with a number of needs for the program to address.

Some of the needs were health and wellness, community gardens, affordable prescriptions, family education and promoting higher education to young people.

The university has been active in city initiatives since November when it donated Thanksgiving meals to families living in the city.

Sandoval said having the university presence in the city is a big plus.

“Having the university here becomes an economic development generator,” Sandoval said. “The goal for the university is to be very visible and active in La Feria.”