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Community Development Corporation of Brownsville Honors Father Armand Mathew
 
BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS - SEPTEMBER 17, 2013- Inside the offices of the Community Development Corporation of Brownsville (CDCB) on East Levee Street, there is a room now dedicated to the memory of Father Armand Mathew.
 
The CDCB held a ceremony at noon Monday, Sept. 16 to dedicate the Education and Training Room to honor Mathew who founded the CDCB in November of 1974.  
Traci Wickett and Mike Seifert lead the group in pledging to continue carrying out Father Armand's work.Traci Wickett and Mike Seifert lead the group in pledging to continue carrying out Father Armand's work.
“This room is where it all starts for our clients. They is where they meet and learn how they can buy a new house and what we can do for them,” said Nick Mitchell- Bennett, Executive Director of the CDCB. “That was Father Mathew’s goal, and that is what he instilled in us―to change the lives of the poor around us”.
 
The Community Development Corporation of Brownsville is the largest non-profit producer of single family housing in Texas. CDCB provides affordable housing for homeownership to families earning as little as $8,000 per year in Cameron County.
 
Mitchell-Bennett told the story of how Mathew started the CDCB. In 1974, Mathew was a new priest in Brownsville and wanted to know the people of his parish to find out what their needs were. He discovered that people needed help fixing their homes.
 
“He was our founding father. He cut more ribbons and blessed more houses in this town. He loved being a part of our board and participating where he could,” said Bennett.
 
Mathew died in June at the age of 90. He had been with The University of Texas at Brownsville since 2001, when he launched the Center for Civic Engagement. An advocate for social justice, Mathew’s imprint is on many organizations from Valley Interfaith, Kids Voting to the Center for Civic Engagement.
 
Juanita Valdez Cox, executive director of La Unión Del Pueblo Entero came from San Juan to attend the  ceremony.
 
 “We do remember his presence, his communication, his outspokenness when there was a need to do so and that’s why it was important to be here today,” Cox said.
 
Traci Wickett, President and CEO of the United Way of Southern Cameron County and a good friend of Mathew, said she feels Mathew’s presence every day pushing her to keep moving.
 
“Every one of us has to be like Armand and push for meaningful change to lift those that don’t have the same opportunities  that the rest of us have,” said Wickett. “Pledge with me that in our lifetime we are going to carry out Armand’s work. I don’t think anything would make him any happier.”
 
State Senator Eddie Lucio read the text from Senate Resolution 137 adopted on the floor of the Senate June 25 in memory of Father Mathew, several days after Mathew passed away on June 22 at his residence at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral.
 
Passionate about public involvement in civic matters, Mathew and Center for Civic Engagement took on the Kids Voting USA project, nurturing the initiative to what it has become today – an established component of the K-12 curriculum throughout all Brownsville schools.
 
The newly dedicated Father Armand Mathew Education & Training Room is located at the Community Development Corporation of Brownsville at 901 E. Levee Street.The newly dedicated Father Armand Mathew Education & Training Room is located at the Community Development Corporation of Brownsville at 901 E. Levee Street.
In 2005, he also established the Kids Voting USA Brownsville Endowment.  As has become the custom since the establishment of the endowment, friends and colleagues would gather to celebrate their beloved friend/mentor/spiritual advisor and to shower him with gifts in the form of checks or payroll deduction forms written out to Kids Voting USA – Brownsville.
 
Plans are underway to continue the tradition and hold a celebration at noon on Monday, October 21, Mathew’s 91’s birthday at UTB.
 
“I could live a thousand years and never merit the love and generosity and the respect and friendship that I have received as a priest,” said Mathew in a video produced for his 90th birthday celebration last year. “You just don’t merit that, it comes to you as a reward, and I suppose that’s why my life has been enchanted.”
 
Gifts to honor Mathew’s legacy can be made to the Kids Voting USA Brownsville Endowment, UTB Office of Advancement Services, One University Blvd., Brownsville, TX 78520
 
To learn more about giving to UTB, contact Executive Director of University Relations Laurie Howell at 956-882-4334 or laurie.howell@utb.edu.
 

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