The Revival of Cultural Arts has been receiving hundreds of Easter baskets from the Brownsville Junior Service League for the past few years to donate to the children who are part of the organization. This is a way of not only supporting the local arts, but also encouraging them as restrictions brought last year by COVID-19 loosen a little bit and classes start to be more available in person.

“Just like everybody, we’ve experienced many challenges but I think, more than anything, we have learned to adapt and continue to create resilient communities. But we can’t do it alone, it happens when you have amazing partners,” Chief Executive Officer and Founder of the Revival of Cultural Arts [ROCA] Hilda Ledezma, said during an interview sharing the organization’s experience with COVID-19.

“We continued, we never stopped. At one point we had to transition to virtual events, a lot of Zoom classes. So, little by little we have turned to providing hybrid programs,” she said. “Students and their families are able to come in in person and we also continue to offer virtually.”

ROCA offers several classes available for children and adults such as music, dance, community theater, video production and the most popular one being ballet. Ledezma said she is thankful for the Brownsville Junior Service League for their continuous support in the donation of the Easter Baskets because they make the children happy.

“We are about bringing hope, bringing the brighter side again. Life happens, and we have no control of a lot of things. But what we do have control of, is being able to bring the good in all of us. And, if we can continue and partner with those people who have the same intentions, to bring hope, I think at the end that’s the greatest goal for all of us,” Ledezma said and continued on the children’s reaction when they received the baskets.

“They were so excited, they were not expecting it. They know that we are always trying to get something for them. But, just to see someone taking the time to put the basket together, and if you notice, every basket is very unique. They’re all different and that also made a big impact on the children.”

Beatriz Gomez, past president of the Brownsville Junior Service League and one of the persons in charge of the Easter Baskets, said they delivered more than 700 baskets to several organizations in the city and that she hopes to continue doing this for many more years because they do make a difference in the children’s lives. She said this year due to the pandemic it has been harder to receive donations from the community to continue donating the Easter Baskets and other programs they also focus on.

“It used to be more baskets, but now it’s a little harder to receive donations due to the pandemic,” she said. “And for these kids, it is something that they receive once a year from us and it’s just become a habit, and something that they look forward to every year.”

Beatriz Garza, a member of the league and past educator, said it is important for organizations to partner and support the arts because they are very important for growth, especially for children. Due to the pandemic, Garza and the organization had to adjust to help the community and started doing arts and crafts with ROCA via Zoom for the children.

Revival of Cultural Arts (R.O.C.A.) Music Director and Administrator Jos Alejandro Cruz, from left, stands with R.O.C.A. CEO and Founder Hilda Maria Ledezma along with Brownsville Junior Service League Easter Baskets Past President and Chair Beatriz Garza and Corresponding Secretary and Vice President Elect Beatriz A. Gomez at the Brownsville Performing Arts Academy/George Ramirez PAA in downtown Brownsville. (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald)

“It’s very important. We need to target our kids, because if we don’t have them busy doing something good, then they’re going to be doing something else instead of focusing on the good,” she said.

“As a former educator, I know that the fine arts are very important for the kids because it’s not all about the books. They need to develop their other talents and the fine arts, the arts and crafts, music, dancing, are very important for the kids to develop, not only mentally, but physically.”

Jose Alejandro Cruz, administrator and music director at ROCA, said they are preparing for the summer and that since they transitioned from the Carlotta Petrina to the George Ramirez Performing Arts Academy, they have seen more families interested in the performing arts. He said there are many projects that will take place throughout the year to showcase the local performing arts.

“The parents are happy that we have this place in town,” he said.

“They didn’t know about it, actually, we transitioned from the Carlotta Petrina to the George Ramirez Performing Arts Academy, so when we took our students to this building, they started sharing with their relatives what was happening here. That’s how they were able to find out more about the performing arts, because the pandemic hit just when we started operations last year.”

Ledezma said that she is also thankful for the City of Brownsville for their continuous support in providing them resources that support the performing arts so that families can partake in the programs that take place at the George Ramirez Performing Arts Academy.

“We cannot do it alone. This is a community effort and the support is greatly appreciated,” she said.

“There is no small deed that goes unnoticed and at the end is about bringing quality of life for all of us and we can do that through the arts. Art opens those possibilities and we encourage everyone to be involved, to support. And if they need more information, to contact us. There are a lot of opportunities, this place (for) everyone; what we do at the Carlotta Petrina, what we do at the Brownsville George Ramirez Performing Arts Academy is for the community. So, there is a place for everyone here.”