There are many times in life when you meet someone whom you feel an automatic connection with. They make you feel at home in your own skin, comfortable in your surroundings, and confident about yourself. The city of Los Fresnos, TX is this person embodied in a small town. During our first drive in Los Frenos the communication specialist for UT Brownsville SPH, Ernie said that he had never met a single unkind person from Los Frenos. Naturally, I was skeptical but by the end of the week I had become a believer.
My classmate and partner in crime this week, Sarah, Ernie, and the videographer Julio spent the week in Los Fresnos interviewing and filming community members, school teachers, and the city manager for a video on the health initiatives that were being implemented in the community. Not once during any of these conversations did I feel unwelcome. Actually it was quite the opposite.
After our first interview with the Tu Salud Si Cuenta community health worker, Christine and a few women from her Zumba class we were asked to come back the next day and join the class, which we enthusiastically did. After interviewing these women, we learned that they had started their own walking/ running club called Los Fresnos Fit Friends. This group sets goals every holiday (the Love goals, the Lucky goals, etc.) for mileage and weight loss. They attend the free workout classes provided by Tu Salud Si Cuenta, run/ walk daily, and run 5Ks together. After speaking with them for twenty minutes Sarah and I had been added to the Los Fresnos Fit Friends Facebook group and created our own Ann Arbor chapter at the urging of these women. After we were done interviewing the women, Christine invited us to tag along on her meetings with the city manager of Los Fresnos and a local PE teacher who is coordinating the CATCH (Coordinated Approach to Child Health) program in a local elementary school. Both men were more than excited to be able to share the work they had been doing in the community and were not the least bit annoyed by our presence.
Ernie and Julio also went out of their way to give us the best possible Lower Rio Grande Valley experience in the short amount of time we had. They bought us our first Whataburger (a Texas fast food staple), showed us Los Fresnos’ very own “Little Graceland”, and the site of the last battle of the civil war right outside the city. The people of Los Fresnos have a pride in their community that is unlike anything I have ever experienced. They are dedicated to ensuring that every individual lives a strong, happy, and healthy life. The people of Los Fresnos inspired me to set goals for my own health and inspire others to do the same.