Women We Love: Letty Reyes’ passion has brought better quality of life to Edinburg

EDINBURG — Letty Reyes enthusiastically listed the cultural events hosted in Edinburg — Artrageous, Fridafest, the South Texas Film Festival, a Dia De Los Muertos celebration, a UFO conference, etc.

Reyes, 34, said her excitement comes from the fact that the Rio Grande Valley is finally home to these types of events. As a child, she said she wasn’t exposed to the arts as much as she would have liked.

The events she mentioned only came about within the last decade, and Reyes has played a role in all of them, either as an organizer or as a volunteer.

“I remember we would have to go to San Antonio,” Reyes said about attending cultural events. “When there was money, it was like, ‘OK, we can travel to San Antonio.’ Sometimes there wasn’t, but I was like I love it. Why can’t we have it here?”

Through her former job as the director of business and public affairs for the Edinburg Development Corporation, she helped create and produce some of the city’s popular cultural events. Although she is no longer with the Edinburg EDC, the McAllen resident is still on the board of the Edinburg Arts Foundation and will continue to volunteer at the events.

“It is a passion I have,” Reyes said about the arts. “I think it enhances the quality of life.”

Reyes’ nomination for The Monitor’s 2018 list of Women We Love described her as resilient and as someone who “delivers excellence in any engagement,” which is one of the reasons Edna Peña enjoys having her help on such events as Artrageous.

Peña, the president of the Edinburg Arts Foundation, said Reyes was instrumental in starting the annual event, which helps raise money for the organization. Artrageous, a fine art auction and fundraiser, takes place Friday and Saturday at the Edinburg Conference Center.

Tickets cost $40 for a special showing and reception on Friday. On Saturday, the event is open to the public for free.

“Her knowledge base in reference to directing us to the right people is awesome,” Peña said about the planning of Artrageous. “She helps us connect the dots and points us in the right direction.”

This year’s event will help raise money to refurbish and remodel the old Sam Houston Schoolhouse in Edinburg. The building was recently donated by the city to the foundation for the South Texas Cultural Center.

Once complete, the cultural center will feature local artists, classes for art, dancing, music and much more.

“Bringing to the community what is not there, that quality of life,” Reyes said about the new center.

More than her work in the arts, Peña complimented Reyes as a mother. Reyes has two children, Sergio and Kendra Adame.

“She is an awesome mom,” Peña said, adding that throughout the year Reyes will create collages of her kids on Facebook and then turn those into photo books at the end of each year.

“That has to do with the arts, too,” Peña said. “It is a recorded history of her children. Those are such a wonderful keepsake for her kids.”

In observance of Women’s History Month, The Monitor is recognizing local women who inspire us. This is the third of eight profiles on those who made our 2018 list of “Women We Love,” a series we’ll publish every Monday and Thursday in March.