A GRADUATION TO REMEMBER
FROM THE COUNTY CHAIRMAN’S DESK
Walter D. (Wally) Wilkerson, Jr., MD
There were only nine graduates, one an eighty-two year old woman who had a dream, two sets of parents whose offspring were citizens and registered voters and four individuals who recognized their duty as residents of the predominantly Hispanic/Latino community of Deerwood, located south of Highway 105 East adjacent to Highline Drive. It is a community searching for an identity and a “place at the table” in county affairs.
Along came a lady, a trained social worker, who recognized the immense need. Maria Jordan accepted the challenge and decided to mentor the community. She has worked tirelessly with the residents to create a true community that improves the quality of life for all residents. An Advisory Board was created to assist her in the mentoring process along with the help and input of the Texas Familias Council, a creation of hers.
A member of the Board, a friend of the County Chairman, sought my help with the project over four years ago, knowing of my interest in Hispanic/Latino engagement. After I discussed the project with County Judge Alan Sadler, he agreed to appoint someone in County Government to join the Board. The appointment of Mark Bosma, who has spent many of his off hours on the project, has proven to be a great asset. Members of the North Shore Republican Women, like Ann Kate, Sharon O’Neil and Cheryl Simonton, along with Marisa Olivares Rummell, the County’s head of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly, have been indispensable workers.
Early on in my involvement, I recognized that there were a sizeable number of residents who needed to be citizens. Marlen Tejeda, the leader of the Conroe Hispanic Task Force and long-time organizer of Citizenship Classes in Conroe, stepped up and agreed to tutor the residents of Deerwood. Every Sunday for six weeks the students met in the Deerwood Community Building to learn the 100 questions required to take the citizenship exam.
U. S. citizenship is an honor bestowed on legal residents of at least five years of residency, three years for spouses of U. S. citizens, and those who pass a background check. A fee of $680.00 per applicant is required. Due to this cost, a Scholarship Fund was created by Texas Familias Council. At its December 2013 meeting of the Republican County Executive Committee, nearly $1,000 dollars was collected. The North Shore Republican Women also made a sizeable contribution. Four of the applicants benefited from this Scholarship Fund.
On Sunday afternoon, January 19th, the graduates, the mentors and many family members, young and old, gathered in the Deerwood Community building to celebrate this momentous event in the lives of the graduates. A young Girl Scout from the recently organized troop, probably the only Hispanic troop in the Houston area, very precisely recited the pledge of allegiance, followed by a robust singing of the National Anthem. You really needed to be present to experience the emotion on display. Then, one by one the graduates were recognized and presented with medallions, a flag and a hug from the presenters. I delivered a few remarks in which I reminded the audience how Texians of Mexican and Spanish descent, like DeZavala, Navarro and Seguin, had fought to secure freedom for Texans.
The 82 year old Mrs. Mila Miramontez, with tears streaming down onto her cheeks, proudly proclaimed: I am so unbelievably happy and proud, that if I pass away tomorrow, I will have already realized my dream”. Montgomery County Republicans are committed to replicating this event many times in the future and encouraging our Hispanic/Latino friends that they will earn a “place at the table” by participating in the political process.