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OUR HISTORY

Asociación Pro Servicios Sociales, Inc. (APSS) is a private non-profit organization created in 1973 in Laredo, Texas. It was chartered as a non-profit corporation in January, 1975 and received tax-exempt status under IRS Section 501(c)(3) that year as an organization with a charitable and educational purpose. Since its creation APSS has carried out its philosophy of community betterment by advocating for the rights of low-income members of the community. APSS serves families and individuals, who because of their socio-economic status are vulnerable to exploitation and misrepresentation. In response to these needs, APSS provides services specific to the needs of migrant-seasonal farm workers many of whom are also affected by immigration issues. Also, the organization conducts activities to reduce hunger and deliver social services to area residents, many of whom are elderly.

The mission and corporate commitment of APSS is to serve those with the greatest social and economic need, to strive for community betterment and remain open, constructive, and creative in advocating for the rights of low- and moderate-income families and individuals. Through the years, APSS directors, community leaders, and residents in general have helped agency staffs identify issues and problems that deserve collaborative attention. At times, APSS staff and board will develop efforts and strategies as projects to address those needs.

Technical and organizational assistance is provided to community groups aiming to develop self-help projects. For example, APSS, in collaboration with other social service agencies, local churches and some private sector advocates, incorporated the Laredo Regional Food Bank (LRFB) to address the lack of an emergency food crisis relief mechanism in our area. Our organization provided management and bookkeeping support through 1988.
APSS supported the residents of the Azteca neighborhood in their fight against an eminent domain project, and then helped them organize the Azteca Economic Development and Preservation Corporation to carry out housing, preservation and revitalization activities in a low-income barrio (neighborhood). Moreover, APSS was actively involved in organizing a Neighborhood Housing Services program approved for Laredo, Texas. APSS promoted the development of a farm worker housing project in Webb County, funded by the Farmers Home Administration which is now administered by the Laredo Housing Authority.

Since its founding APSS, has provided services to migrant and seasonal farm workers. With the advent of the Community Services Administration Migrant Conduit Council in 1978, the organization secured our area migrant Community Food and Nutrition program subcontract and began addressing the issue of food insecurity among the farm worker community. In 1984, APSS was selected by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs to administer the Community Services Block Grant as the Farm Worker Regional Service Center for four counties in the South Texas area.
APSS services are provided by knowledgeable, experienced persons who are bilingual/bicultural and highly sensitive to the needs of our community. The staff has consistently met and overcome the challenges associated with the goals of APSS.

OUR MISSION

The purpose or purposes for which the corporation is organized are: to operate exclusively for charitable and educational purposes, including but not limited to improvement of the condition of the poor, the underprivileged and the victims of discrimination and alienation; to exercise all the powers conferred upon corporations formed under the Texas Non-profit Corporation Act in order to accomplish its charitable and educational purposes, of money or property, whether real or personal, or any interest therein, wherever situated.
Article Four, Articles of Incorporation of Asociación Pro Servicios Sociales, Inc., January 6, 1975.

OUR VISION

APSS is housed in a two-story office building in a Laredo, Texas barrio called “La Guadalupe,” one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city whose boundaries correspond to Webb County Census Tract Eight.

Some or all members of households in Census Tract 8 speak Spanish at home, but Tract 8 has relatively few linguistically isolated households. Citizenship is an important factor to consider in community development and the proportion of U.S.-born residents is high (75%), but there is a clear need to improve naturalization rates for legal permanent residents. Educational attainment for males and females in the prime age range of productivity (21 to 64 years) is a very promising indicator for entrepreneurship-based community development efforts.

On the other hand, females between 21-64 years of age have significantly higher rates of disability and below-poverty income, according to Census data. Finally, an indicator of entrepreneurial potential is household self-employment income, and Tract 8 indicates a potential to grow entrepreneurial ventures, especially among women with disabilities which limit their employability in the labor market.

Over its history, APSS has provided direct social services to low-income households and individuals and aims to expand its services to promote self-sufficiency. Entrepreneurship development is an approach “that relies not on social safety nets and welfare payments, but on market-oriented programs that provide assistance to small businesses” (Assanie & Virmani, 2006), APSS believes that its mission is well-served by encouraging self-reliance which can lead to greater income, self-sufficiency, and control over the future by households in low-income communities.

Assanie, L., & Virmani, R. (2006, September/October). Incubating Microfinance: The Texas Border Experience. Southwest Economy, pp. 3-7.