Each month, a Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso employee who contributes to the university’s Employee Giving Campaign will be featured. Participating in this campaign sends a powerful message to the community that employees not only work here, but also truly believe in our mission to serve all people through exemplary patient care, education and research. They are dedicated to excellence and committed to care.
This month’s employee is Jorge Caballero, managing director for network operations with the Office of Information Technology.
What draws employees to work for Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso is often its mission to improve the lives of people in our state and community by focusing on the unique health care needs of socially and culturally diverse border populations. A mission-focused career enticed Jorge Caballero, managing director for network operations with the Office of Information Technology, to move from Petro Stopping Centers to TTUHSC El Paso 12 years ago.
“The success of a community is measured in different ways,” Caballero said of the Borderland. “We measure unemployment, poverty levels, access to education and quality of life when considering what makes a community healthy and a great place to live. At TTUHSC El Paso, the employees play a critical role in driving the institution’s advancement of the community in education and health care.”
Caballero’s enthusiasm for TTUHSC El Paso’s mission led him to become a donor to the Employee Giving Campaign. Funds raised by the EGC are exclusively dedicated to initiatives on campus, and Caballero has designated his monthly donations to the Hunt School of Nursing Fund for Excellence.
“Nurses are the backbone of the health care industry. They facilitate 24/7 care while providing updates and comfort to patients and their families,” Caballero said. “They’re mission-focused and often married to their career. I’m happy to support students as they train to become future health care providers.”
For Caballero, a mission-driven career means a mission-driven life. When he’s not ensuring that the campus’ network infrastructure is available and secure, he’s often found facilitating group discussions at TTUHSC El Paso’s Spanish Lab or volunteering at the El Pasoans Fighting Hunger food bank. As a member of the food bank’s board of directors, Caballero finds great purpose behind the organization’s mission to combat the hunger crisis in the El Paso region by procuring and distributing nutritious food through community partners.
“I became involved with El Pasoans Fighting Hunger through their annual Empty Bowls event. From then on, I became more active in the organization, working my way up to their board,” Caballero said.
The Empty Bowls event is a grassroots effort to bring awareness to hunger in the Borderland and raise funds for food-insecure individuals in the region. Hunger does not discriminate. Children, single-parent households, students, veterans, senior citizens and working-class families can all experience food insecurity. Food insecurity is defined as being limited at times to having adequate food because of a lack of money and other resources. The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the need for food in El Paso, Texas and the whole of the United States.
“As you can imagine, the repercussions of COVID-19 are many. People in the community needing assistance grew exponentially,” Caballero said. “One of the challenges El Pasoans Fighting Hunger faces is recruiting volunteers; on any given day, the food bank needs a minimum of around 75 volunteers to keep up with food distribution.”
RaiderAid Food Pantry Assists Students at TTUHSC El Paso
In a recent study from Northwestern University’s Institute for Policy Research, Texas’ food insecurity doubled from December 2018 to May 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Food insecurity is often an issue for students at TTUHSC El Paso, many of whom have families to care for while on a tight budget.
Chris Vejil, director of student affairs and wellness with Student Services and Student Affairs, coordinates the RaiderAid Food Pantry on the TTUHSC El Paso campus.
“The RaiderAid Food Pantry is now located in the Facilities Services Building (FSB) at 5310 El Paso Drive, and students have access to the space via their badge,” Vejil said.
At the food pantry, students will find shelf-stable pantry essentials to supplement their food supply for themselves and their families. Students are encouraged to use the pantry whenever needed.
Acknowledging the increased need for support in the community, the TTUHSC El Paso Student Government Association is partnering with El Pasoans Fighting Hunger for their annual Corazón de Oro (Heart of Gold) community outreach event. Due to the circumstances surrounding COVID-19, the day of service has been restructured from previous years. Instead of volunteering at multiple sites and providing assistance to multiple organizations on a single day, SGA will dedicate the first four Saturdays in October for Corazón de Oro.
Student volunteers will hand food out to the community or fill boxes with non-perishable food items to be delivered to individuals and seniors who have trouble accessing food. SGA is anticipating 20 volunteers each Saturday.
“Volunteering gives students the opportunity to immerse themselves in their community and positively impact the lives of their fellow community members,” Christian Doby, a second-year student at the Foster School of Medicine and SGA vice president of service, said. “We decided to pursue a partnership with the El Pasoans Fighting Hunger food bank because we felt it would provide a great outlet for students to assist in providing food to those who are unable to access this essential need during the pandemic. Now more than ever, we can each do our part to make a difference for those who are depending on this effort.”
The entire TTUHSC El Paso family of students and employees is dedicated to the mission of improving the lives of people in our community. For Caballero, the mission will mature and be more poignant with time.
“In 20 years, I see TTUHSC El Paso continuing to be a top-notch choice for obtaining an education in health care and a premier health care provider for the region. My hope is we continue to positively impact humanity through our students and research.”
Giving back has never been so easy now that the Employee Giving Campaign form is online. Click here to join the Employee Giving Campaign.