Just miles from the Mexico border, McAllen, TX, has hosted the UPS Community Internship Program (CIP) since 1984.
Deep in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas, the hot and humid sunshine beats down upon the residents of McAllen, TX, a border town only six miles north of Mexico including the border cities that sit on the Mexico side, the area is a binational, bicultural, bilingual, and international metropolis with a population of 2.4 million.
McAllen is one of the first destinations for Mexican emigrants when they cross the border. While the ideals of freedom and opportunity in America provide inspiration, the same problems that were seemingly left behind only miles to the south - poverty, unemployment, and an overwhelming feeling of helplessness - are just as present to the north, compounded by a challenging language barrier that makes communication nearly impossible.
Thousands of Mexican immigrants make their homes in underdeveloped neighborhoods called colonias. These dilapidated, one-room, dirt-floor dwellings often are inhabited by entire families and rarely have running water, electricity, or plumbing. It is here, in the midst of difficulty and despair, that 10 UPS managers spent a month away from home working with the underprivileged, trying to help them overcome the adverse conditions that seem to be so prominent.
The interns lent support and encouragement to troubled teenagers, taught English, spent time with the elderly, and played with young children. They worked side-by-side with families constructing new homes and making repairs to others. When finished, the dirt and sweat that covered the faces of the interns seemed to be wiped clean by the proud faces and joyful smiles of the families they had helped.
The CIP in McAllen helped build more than just houses. The experience as a whole provided these managers with a foundation of understanding, upon which to build, develop, and grow - personally and professionally.
District Operations Manager
This was undoubtedly the best assignment that I have ever been a part of in my 23 years at UPS. As I started out this assignment I began picking up pieces; realizing that in the puzzle of life all the pieces are important, no matter how big or small. I thought that I was here to help others. As it turned out, they were here helping me.
Region Air Coordinator
This program has reminded me of the importance of community and how a strong community can benefit everyone from the youth to the elderly. One of the interns asked why are we doing so much physical labor to these families’ homes, and not more counseling. The on-site coordinator said something I will never forget. She said by helping these families fix their houses, giving them hot water for the first time, fixing leaking roofs and the holes in the walls and floors, you are building their personal confidence and they will feel proud of the things they have. I am looking forward to continuing my involvement in the community and sharing my experience with the people I work with to inspire them to do more for the people in our communities and for themselves.
This experience has given me a better understanding of the social impact on people in their communities and, perhaps, why they may behave the way they do in certain situations. The experience has opened my eyes to the need for the social programs within our local communities. I will take home a lot from this experience and plan on getting my family and local UPS partners more involved in volunteering and giving our time back to the local community. The CIP experience was incredible and I feel very blessed to have been given the opportunity to help make a difference in the lives of the people in the colonias of McAllen. Each and every one of us are blessed with what we have been given and we should all try and give back to our local communities.