EDINBURG – Looking back at decades of service to Edinburg families, longtime Housing Authority Executive Director Estella Lane Treviño says she is proud of all the families and all they have done.

Fostering relationships over the course of nearly 40 years, Treviño said she has grown attached to the thousands of families who have gone through the housing program in Edinburg. Now, upon her retirement, Treviño said she is pleased with their success, and still knows them all by name.

"It has been a wonderful experience working for housing," said Treviño, a longtime businesswoman in Edinburg, and former Justice of the Peace, before her tenure with the Edinburg Housing Authority began in 1972. "When I started in housing, I got very attached to the people. I know them all by name. I am excited. I am really very pleased with how well they have done."

The City of Edinburg held a special tribute last week, honoring "Mrs. T's" legacy. Joined by city leaders, members of the Edinburg Housing Authority Board, officials from HUD, and some of the many families she has helped throughout the years, all praised her work and the impact she has made on countless lives in the community.

Organizations, agencies and well-wishers spanning the region offered their praise for Trevino.

"Often the victims of fires are left homeless because they have no money or insurance, but when the fire department asks me to find a temporary house to serve as a temporary shelter for victims, you quickly responded and established a furnished home at one of the Edinburg Housing Authority properties," said Fire Chief Shawn Snider. "The Edinburg Fire Department thanks you for your caring leadership, and unyielding dedication the residents of Edinburg."

"For over 40 years you have been a driving force in efforts to bring affordable, decent and quality housing to underprivileged families," said Arnold Padilla, representing the Housing Alliance of Valley Employees South Texas Region, and the president of the San Benito Housing Authority. "With your leadership and participation in the early years of our association, you helped set the foundation that allows us to be the voice for more than 30 housing authorities across South Texas."

Texas Workforce Solutions called her a "champion for public assistance" on the board, and "played an integral role in the Board's leadership and success in the community."

Oh behalf of the City of Edinburg, Mayor Richard Garcia commented on Treviño's "passion and belief that everyone deserves a place to call home." At the ceremony last week, the mayor read a proclamation naming Sept. 23, 2011, as "Estella Lane Trevino Day."

"It has been a driving force, for as long as I've known her," Garcia said. "She has never wavered one bit in her passion. She found a way to make things happen because she she knew if people had a roof over their heads, and education and career, that a better life would follow."

The University of Texas-Pan American also announced its Estella Lane Treviño Endowed Scholarship at the event, which will be awarded to students in low income families currently living in Edinburg housing programs.

A part of one of Edinburg's pioneer families, Treviño, 89, graduated from Edinburg High School at the age of 16 in 1939, and immediately opened her first business, a beauty shop she would operate for more than 20 years.

She became Hidalgo County's first female justice of the peace, which she held for six years before he tenure on EHA.

After being asked by the Edinburg Review what message she would like to send to all the families she has encountered in her 39 years at the Housing Authority, she said "I'm very proud of the families, for one thing. All they have done. I feel like they're my family too."