With the help of God and the support of the
community, we have had the privilege and
honor of helping thousands upon thousands of
needy people in Hidalgo County throughout
the past 85 years. Behind all the numbers are
stories of transformation, including that of former
shelter client, Casimiro Rodriguez.
Rodriguez was drunk and high the day before
his brother kicked him out of the house.
His addiction to cocaine and alcohol had led
to many family disputes. But this time, the dispute
resulted in Rodriguez's homelessness and
rude awakening. With nowhere to go during
the summer of 1993, Rodriguez looked for a
bus in McAllen that would take him far away
from the Valley. With his backpack and a suitcase
in hand, he got on the first bus he saw,
not realizing that it was for local transportation
only. But small talk with the bus driver led
Rodriguez to an unexpected destination, The
Salvation Army (TSA). The bus driver insisted
that Rodriguez would get the help he needed at
TSA by first checking into the shelter. Knowing
that he would not get much farther on that
bus and that he indeed needed help, Rodriguez
followed the bus driver's advice. He checked
into the shelter and met Mr. Willie, the shelter
manager at that time. "He showed me he was
there for me," Rodriguez said of Mr. Willie.
"I'm grateful because I reached out my hand
for help and TSA gave it to me."
Rodriguez stayed at the shelter for two
months. Then, upon Rodriguez's request for rehabilitation,
TSA sent him to a Salvation Army
Rehabilitation Center in Tyler, Texas. The four month
program not only transformed Rodriguez,
but allowed him to start working again.
He stayed in Tyler working as a custodian for
TSA for about four years. Within his first year
there, he remembers the TSA shelter opening
its doors to people who lost their homes to a
hurricane that hit nearby Houston. He helped
give out meals, blankets and hygiene items. "I
humbled myself," Rodriguez said. "I saw a lot
of the need and realized life is too precious; you
can go like this (snaps his fingers) at any time."
When Rodriguez found out that his father
was ill in McAllen, he decided to move back
to the Valley. He ended up working for TSA in
McAllen as a custodian and then as a donation
truck driver for about eight years. In 2008, TSA
Divisional Headquarters in Dallas dispatched
the McAllen Corps canteen, or mobile feeding
unit, to Texas City and Galveston for Hurricane
Ike relief. Rodriguez drove the canteen to the
area and stayed there for three weeks delivering
meals that the Southern Baptist Disaster
Relief volunteers cooked daily for Hurricane
"While delivering meals over there, I met a
wealthy banker with his family, his wife and
three kids," Rodriguez recalled. "The lady was
crying. They had lost their home and everything
in it. But I told her that she didn't lose everything.
She had her family right there with her."
Today, Rodriguez enjoys sharing his testimony
and words of hope to others. Since his rehabilitation
in 1994, he has been sober and drug-free. Rodriguez
confesses that it has been difficult for his family to trust him again.
But his advice to those who struggle with addictions is that "nothing is impossible with the Lord."
We invite you to join us in celebrating National
Salvation Army Week, May 9-14. You
may find the complete schedule of activities at
. We also invite
you to help us help others. To give a monetary
donation, you may send a check payable to
The Salvation Army to the following address:
PO Box 4766, McAllen, TX 78502. You may
also visit with us in person at 1600 N. 23rd St.
McAllen, TX 78501 to discuss with us how
you would like to get involved.
Thank you for your support!