BY Amanda Sotelo
Driving down the south side of Harlingen on a chilly October Saturday morning, it was easy to spot Texas State Technical College student leaders working to beautify the city during National Make a Difference Day.
At least 180 students joined forces with Keep Harlingen Beautiful, City of Harlingen Parks and Recreation, Coakley Middle School and Marine Military Academy to plant flowers and shrubs along 12 canal banks.
TSTC Coordinator of Student Life Belinda Palomino said this project has been the largest in scale they have done to date and she is proud of the outcome.
“For the lack of better terms, my students killed it,” she said. “I’m so proud of their commitment and dedication to getting this project done.”
From start to finish, the project took four hours — with a minor glitch that was solved with some teamwork.
“The truck our pavers were on got a flat tire, but thanks to the collaboration by city employees and our volunteers we were able to continue our project and beautify the community for its residents,” said Palomino.
The project was valued at more than $47,000 with volunteer hours accounting for $8,800, saving the city some money.
“It is so great getting to work with students who are so committed to their community,” said Palomino. “I’m grateful to each and every one of them.”
TSTC Student Government President Isela Rodriguez was one of the team leaders for the project. She said what made the project even more worthwhile was the support they were receiving from the community.
“People were honking and yelling ‘good job’ and stopping by to compliment our work and show their support,” she said. “Even Harlingen City Commissioner Victor Leal stopped to talk to us. The positive feedback we got was encouraging.”
Harlingen Mayor Chris Boswell also addressed the group and showed his support and appreciation for the project and everyone’s hard work.
Rodriguez went on to say that the day was exciting and she is thankful to everyone who came out to work alongside them to make National Make a Difference Day a success and make a difference in the community.
In a survey taken by the student volunteers, it was evident they shared Rodriguez’s sentiment and agreed that this project gave the residents of Harlingen a cleaner environment, increased the value of the community and made people happier.
“The success of this project was a group effort,” said Rodriguez. “It was a mission impossible, but we made it possible.”
National Make a Difference Day was also honored with community service events at TSTC’s 10 other campuses statewide.
For more information on TSTC and its programs, visit tstc.edu.