Joe Vera III, city manager of Hidalgo, was honored with the South Texas Hero Award during the United Way of South Texas Awards Ceremony held at the McAllen Country Club.

The South Texas Hero Award is presented to an individual that demonstrates integrity, commitment and leadership in his/her Community. Hundreds of business leaders, along with Vera’s family were in attendance when Steve Ahlenius, president of the McAllen Chamber of Commerce and past board chair of the United Way of South Texas, presented the award.

“It is essential that his grandchildren also be there to discover the significance of giving and sharing,” says Trisha Garza, daughter of Joe Vera.

Throughout the year, Vera personally invests hundreds of hours completing community service through many valuable charities. He has spearheaded some of the most successful volunteer events in the City of Hidalgo to benefit the United Way. These include the 2008 and 2009 Day of Caring projects and the Pillar Club annual recognition event. The 2009 Day of Caring was an unprecedented communitywide effort that mobilized leaders from every community in Hidalgo & Starr Counties.

In addition, over 320 volunteers dedicated their time and efforts to complete 2,505 hours of community service. Vera coordinated a program with Up with People and the United Way of South Texas. His vision was to expand the annual volunteer work to impact more residents than ever before. Over 90 international performers kicked-off Day of Caring by completing projects over an entire week. The weeklong event closed with a performance by Up with People at the State Farm Arena. All proceeds were dedicated to the United Way of South Texas.

The South Texas Hero award was established in 2008, in honor of Ray Alexander, retired general manager of KRGV TV 5. He was instrumental in establishing the Rio Grande Valley’s 211 Information and Referral program, as well as leading and strengthening many other non-profits in South Texas, including the United Way of South Texas.