Beatrice Gallego has spent her life advocating for the communities that San Antonio city leaders often neglect. As a parent volunteer, a devoted parishioner at St. James Catholic church, and the second President of the Communities Organized for Public Service (COPS), Gallego has fought for Westside neighborhoods to get the resources they deserve.
Beatrice was born in San Antonio on October 21, 1934. Her parents were Andres Saldívar and Josefa Cuellar. She was the youngest of seven children. As a child she wanted to be a nun, but that changed when she met her future husband. On August 28, 1955 she married Gilbert Gallego, a hardware salesman. They live in the Palm Heights neighborhood at 902 W. Winnipeg and raised three children. Beatrice became active in her community very early, serving as a PTA leader, a Head Start volunteer and working at the St. James Catholic church on Theo Avenue.
In 1974, an organization that would eventually be named the Citizens Organized for Public Service (COPS) began to form in San Antonio, led by community organizer Ernesto Cortes, a Westside native who had been trained at Saul Alinsky’s Industrial Areas Foundation in Chicago, and Father Edmundo Rodriguez of Our Lady of Guadalupe parish. Cortes was looking for natural community leaders, and he heard about Gallego. He had to make seventeen phone calls before Gallego would meet with him....
In 1977 she became the second president of COPS, and led several successful efforts....
[Photo Credit: Museo del Westside]
Ayala: Museo's Virtual Show in San Antonio Expands Definition of Activism and its History in San Antonio, San Antonio Express-News [pdf]
Beatrice Gallego- Community Activist and COPS President, Museo del Westside
Arenas de Ruiz, formerly of Venezuela, had been among parishioners in Harris County, Fort Bend and Brazoria counties who took the three-day leadership training offered by The Metropolitan Organization (TMO), a nonprofit grassroots group. In mid-summer, more than 1,250 TMO leaders from 30 churches and other institutions convened on Zoom and Facebook watch parties for a virtual “Get out the Vote Rally” and made thousands of phone calls to 16 Harris County precincts that traditionally had low voter turnout.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has offered a teaching document on the political responsibilities of Catholics called “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.” The document urges all pastors, lay and religious faithful and all people of good will “to help form consciences, teach those entrusted to their care; to contribute to civil and respectful public dialogue and to shape politics.”
Father Rodney Armstrong of Our Mother of Mercy Catholic Church in Fifth Ward and his parishioners set up a voter registration table at a nearby McDonald’s fast-food restaurant with owner approval. The pastor also made a video that TMO placed on its Facebook to encourage voters.
Dr. Fernando Scaglia, a parishioner at Assumption Catholic Church off Airline Drive, said he participated in the church’s phone bank as well despite his busy schedule as a researcher and professor of genetics at Baylor College of Medicine.
He also participated in “Virtual Accountability Sessions,” where TMO invited candidates from Democratic and Republican parties to discuss how they stood on a variety of issues.
“There are so many important issues that impact all of us — health and the pandemic; economic issues like evictions and even the DACA issue for dreamers,” Dr. Scaglia said.
[Photo Credit: St. Leo the Great Catholic Church]
Faithful Citizenship Sparks Nonpartisan Voter Rallies at Houston Parishes, The Texas Catholic Herald [pdf]
Austin Interfaith Celebrates 30 Years of Building Power, Austin American Statesman [pdf]
De los Santos: My Life-Changing Work with Valley Interfaith, Rio Grande Guardian [pdf]
TMO Focuses on ‘People Power’, Houston Chronicle
Faith Groups Joining in Larger Networks Celebrate 40 Years of Reducing Poverty in Texas, National Catholic Reporter
Grassroots Grows Up by the Texas Observer, Quorum Report
Pima Community College Chancellor Lee Lambert and five key Pima County Interfaith Civic Education Organization leaders signed the first ever Memorandum of Understanding between the college and interfaith group to promote collaboration around civic engagement, student leadership development, and other mutually beneficial activities. The MOU will be in effect for 5 years.
Monsignor Raul Trevizo, Pastor of St. John the Evangelist and Vicar General of the Catholic Diocese of Tucson, Rev. Sharon Ragland, Senior Pastor of St. Mark's Methodist UMC, Fr. Tom Tureman, S.D.S., Pastor of Most Holy Trinity Catholic, Rev. Delle McCormick, Senior Pastor of Rincon Congregational UCC, and Deaconess Marjie Hrabe, President of the PCICEO Board spoke at the signing ceremony. Rev. Ragland spoke of the importance of Pima to her daughter's success, and Msgr. Trevizo recalled teaching classes at PCC as one of his first jobs after college. All the speakers stressed the importance of students being supported, engaged and successful.Read more
"The work of citizenship does not begin and end with voting because politics is not just about elections. Elections are important moments in time when we ratify decisions shaped by months and years of political action. Politics is about coming together across differences and making decisions about how we want to live together. Politics requires relationship and negotiation and compromise..."Read more
In a weekend accountability session, leaders from The Border Organization leveraged commitments from Sheriff, state District Judge and County Commissioner candidates about immigration, crime and an underground water district. Institutional leaders committed to turning out 2,700 voters in advance of the election.
"We inform and educate the people about the candidates..." said organization co-chair Marta Gonzalez-Stitts. "We are committed to getting out the vote."Read more
Leaders created additional economic opportunities for workers by pushing through a "preference policy" prioritizing local bids for contracts and vending with the City of Santa Cruz and Monterey County. This is part of COPA's regional strategy to promote hiring by municipal and school district entities from within Santa Cruz, San Benito and Monterey.