A Visit From…Ernie?

May 27, 2010 at 5:07 pm Leave a comment

One of our programs in McAllen, Texas recently received a surprise visit from Hollywood star: Valente Rodriguez.  Anyone who has watched the George Lopez Show knows this actor as George’s best friend, Ernie.

Cynthia Leon tells the story of his visit.

Valente is a native of Edcouch- Elsa, just minutes from our facility,  and at the request from one of our staff took the time out of his busy schedule to visit with and talk to our youth clients.  How cool is that?

Being from a poor family of migrant workers, he shared his own life struggles and family problems including his brother who spent 19 years in Huntsville prison for murder.  He talked to the kids about how making bad decisions can impact you and your family for a lifetime.  He talked about how his brother would tell him from behind the plexi-glass window in Huntsville Prison that making an “A” in Math or English was much easier than spending one day in Huntsville.

He reinforced one way out, was through education, a route he himself had followed. He encouraged our youth to change now, because they still have time to turn themselves around.  He encouraged the kids to have a voice because every person in America has an opportunity to make something of themselves if they choose to.  He acknowledged our program and staff for caring to invite him to come and speak to them.

After Valente spoke, youth asked questions related to his movie career.  Valente’s first role was in the movie, Blood In, Blood Out.  Youth also asked about other Chicano actors such as George Lopez and Cheech Marin.  One parent asked Valente about portraying more positive roles. Valente stated that is definitely one of his goals, to highlight Latino’s in more positive roles and to have more brown people on the little black box we know as “the TV.”

Afterwards, Valente posed for pictures with youth, staff and families!  Everyone had an awesome time, thank you Valente for taking the time to visit with us.

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Entry filed under: Juvenile Justice, Southwest Key Programs. Tags: , , , , , , .

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