On January 31, 2020 — BONDING AGAINST ADVERSITY (BAA) celebrated their 10th year of service to the community with a “Launch Breakfast” at the Lone Star Community College – North Harris Student Building. Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez was the keynote speaker.
Reggie Gray, President/CEO of the Houston Intercontinental Chamber Of Commerce welcomed the participants and thanked all the people, organizations and volunteers who have given their financial contributions, time and knowledge, and their efforts of support to help BAA to fulfill their mission of “Helping Others Help Themselves.”
The keynote speaker, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, started by giving the statistics about crime in Houston and Harris County. Then, he reported about the difference that organizations involved in helping the community, such as Bonding Against Adversity, have made and the improvements resulting from their contribution in the education, assistance, caring and support provided to individuals in need. He encouraged BAA to continue their efforts and work with the educational and faith organizations, businesses and corporations, volunteers and all the people to make our community better and safer every day.
Mariana Sanchez, VP/ Chief Operating Officer and founder of Bonding Against Adversity, said, “10 years… it seems easy to say… but I still remember that 10 years ago, when I started Bonding Against Adversity, I worked from my car during the hot summer, since my car had become my office, and the only purpose of my work was to serve the community in North Houston. After a year of hard work, my efforts started to grow thanks to the East End District, who gave us our first grant, and HICC’s Reggie Gray, who felt sorry for me and invited us to share their office space. Then, Ken Fisher from Noble Energy gave us the next push with their financial contribution… and time went on and we kept growing. Now, thanks to the Lone Star College and Dr. Linda Head, Associate Vice Chancellor, we serve the community in our BAA offices at LSC Greenspoint Center and the East Aldine Center. From 2010 to 2020 BAA assisted 10,000 lawful residents to become U.S. Citizens and hundreds of students and their families to become better and more productive members of their community.”
Some former participates shared their testimonies: Kenia Lugo started to volunteer at BAA when she was 9 years old and attended Aldine schools. She started by passing water or food to our volunteers and doing little chores. Later, after she finished High School, she helped providing Citizenship classes at San Charles Borromeo. Now, she is a very confident young lady attending Lone Star College for her basics still helping BAA along with all her family. Kenia said: “Thank you BAA for giving me confidence to be able to stand up today in front of everyone and share my testimony.”
Eduardo Martinez, a Lamar University graduate with a degree in finances and a former MacArthur High School and Hambrick Middle School student, told the audience about the help and support that he received from BAA. He said: “Thanks to the help of a BAA tutor at Hambrick, I was able to go to MacArthur. When I started high school, my father was shot and BAA became my only support. They made it possible for me to graduate not only from MacArthur but also from Lamar University. Now I have a good job, help my family and serve as a BAA volunteer.”
Maria Loya, a single mother of 5 children, said: “BAA has given me their support to educate my children. Now, all my children are professionals. BAA has also helped me to adjust in place and start my process for legal status. They provided me all their assistance without any charge. I could have never been able to pay $3,000 for services, which is the money that an attorney requested her.
Mr. Hernandez, a former Cuban refugee, said: “My wife and I had been living in the U. S. for several years and did not know how to apply for U.S. Citizenship due to our lack of knowledge of the English language and financial restrictions. Mariana encouraged and helped us to learn English and assisted us in the process of our U.S. Citizenship. Now, thanks to the free BAA Citizenship classes and all the volunteer teachers, my wife and I are not only U.S. Citizens, but we speak English and can share our testimony in English.”
Finally, Mariana thanking all the BAA supporters said: “We have never been alone during these past 10 years and it is our hope that Bonding Against Adversity will always have the support and participation of every member of our community to continue growing healthier and stronger to serve those in need.”