Be Remarkable: Local volunteer, educator says helping immigrants is the Christian thing to do

The man known as Brazos Valley’s “El Maestro” for decades has been helping immigrants and their families navigate all corners of life.
Published: Dec. 6, 2021 at 8:24 PM CST
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - For more than a decade, a local organization has helped area immigrants in almost all aspects of life and one of its volunteers has gone above and beyond to help.

Early one morning recently, the Brazos Interfaith Immigration Network hosted a breakfast to update the community on its work and one of the guest speakers was José Antonio “Tony” Caraballo.

“Everything this organization is doing stays right here in our community,” he told the sunrise crowd.

Caraballo is a native of Puerto Rico but has called the Brazos Valley home for four decades. In that time here he’s used his bilingual skills to help countless people and families receive the education, employment, and healthcare resources available here at home.

“Reaching out to help the immigrants that do not speak English, that need our help, it’s the best way to serve the Lord. It’s one of the best blessings that we as Christians have. Jesus gave us the example to serve and that’s the best way to do it. Serving people in our community,” said Caraballo.

Caraballo works with attorneys, non-profits, schools, and Churches to help what he calls the most vulnerable residents in our community.

“People may not realize but the immigrant community actually keeps us afloat economically. Every one of you knows someone who works in a kitchen, in a construction site, in a garden. In the Hispanic community, especially the immigrants, they are a major pillar of our economy,” said Caraballo. “We need to treat the immigrant population just like we treat anyone else. Just like we treat a member of our family or a member of our Church. Love thy neighbor as thyself. This community needs to be protected because they are part of us. They’re here and they’re not going anywhere.”

In addition to all of his volunteer work, he continues to teach many courses at area university including a non-credit Spanish course for English speakers. Attendees take the classes free of charge.

According to his profile on the Mays Business School page: ”Teaching since 1978 at Coleman ISD, Texas (Spanish, ESL, & Sociology) and at TAMU since 1979, José Antonio Caraballo is a retired Senior Lecturer from the Hispanic Studies Department where he served as a faculty member, Academic Advisor, Study Abroad Coordinator, and mentor. In addition, Caraballo teaches for the Center for International Studies at MAYS Business School (Non-Credit Spanish) & Blinn College (Spanish for Health Providers). His undying commitment to service has also earned him numerous prestigious awards including the Texas A&M Fish Camp Name Sake, the A&M International Excellence Award, and the Texas A&M Association of Former Students Distinguished Teaching Award.

In 2006, Caraballo was named A&M University Mentor of the Year, and in 2008, Hispanic of the Year by the Hispanic Forum of Bryan/College Station. Caraballo is currently active in the community as a radio personality for Brazos Valley Communication Radio Alegría (102.3 FM & 1240 AM), where he is a strong advocate for education, bilingualism, and multiculturalism. In the Hispanic community, he is known as “El Maestro.” Feel free to contact Mr. Caraballo at caraballo@tamu.edu. "

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The Brazos Interfaith Immigration Network calls Caraballo a valuable member of their family.

“He works tirelessly to help the immigrant community. You name it he does it. He is a volunteer for our Information, Referral, and Assistance (IRA program), which provides individualized help with documents and procedures, information or referrals to services and community resources, and assists with wage theft recovery in Brazos County. He accompanies parents to schools to enroll their children, he drives people to get their Covid vaccine, he advocates for people trying to get their children birth certificates, he helps people recover their stolen wages, he translates documents for our clients, he notarizes documents for free through our IRA program, he promotes all PSAs that could help the immigrant community through his Saturday radio show on La Alegria which is wildly popular,” said Jaimi Washburn.

“The list goes on and on. He literally does whatever is needed to help low-income families get by. He commits at least 15 hours a week to help families that stop by our office for help. Because of his dedication and giving nature, he is quite famous in Brazos County among the Latino population. Most of the people that join BIIN’s classes, attend our workshops, or stop into the IRA walk-in clinics to seek help for a problem has heard about our organization from Tony, which they fondly refer to as ‘El Maestro.’” Everyone says that he is the best Spanish teacher they have ever had. He is one of the most famous Hispanics if not the most famous Hispanic in our community because of his generosity and compassion,” said Washburn.

Upon receiving his $500 Be Remarkable award from KBTX and Daniel Stark Injury Lawyers, Caraballo immediately said the money would be given to the Brazos Interfaith Immigration Network.

“To be recognized is an honor,” said Caraballo, “and I want to thank you, Mr. Daniel, because we need more businesses like Daniel Stark Injury Lawyers that give back to our community. You are a blessing to us and this is going to be a blessing to Brazos Interfaith Immigration Network.

If you have someone you want to nominate for our Be Remarkable campaign click here! Be Remarkable airs on News 3 at 6 p.m. every other Monday and is proudly sponsored and made possible by Daniel Stark Injury Lawyers.

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