los encinos retreat

this past weekend i was fortunate enough to be invited to our annual junior league of mcallen leadership retreat, held at the los encinos ranch! the junior league is an international women's volunteer organization with hundreds of local chapters focused on effecting change in our communities. each chapter has a slightly different focus dictated by the biggest areas for improvement in their community. the mcallen chapter's main focus is on addressing childhood obesity and improving childhood literacy in our area. we host a few events each year to educate children on proper nutrition and exercise habits, as well as fundraising events so that we can provide services to better the lives of youth in the rio grande valley.

in addition to our work, this retreat also served as an extended social allowing us to spend time together and bond as a leadership team in increasingly larger groups before setting out into our committees. we had the best time touring the gorgeous property in search of zebras, deer, wildebeest (is the plural of wildebeest, wildebeest or wildebeests?) and oryx!

on sunday, all league members (and some hubbies!) were invited out to enjoy the ranch and bbq some amazing food. [texans take this bbq thing very seriously.] since moving to texas, joining the junior league has been one of the best decisions i've made. having moved to a community where we didn't know anyone, with a very different culture, and where not everyone is in support of law enforcement, it's easy to fall into a pattern of isolation. upon landing in rgv i saw a lot of things i felt could be improved, and decided dedicating some time to volunteering would simultaneously allow me to better adjust to the area and j's schedule, while having a positive impact on the community. i also hoped i would be able to meet some like minded locals, and my expectations in this arena have been SO far surpassed. not only have i met women to collaborate with, but friends to lunch with and brunch with. everyone has been so welcoming, and since joining league these ladies and their families have become our family away from home!

i was so grateful for this chance to not only grow personally, and get to know more of these women a little better, but also to see a slice of "real texas." the amount of work that goes into maintaining a ranch of this size is enormous, but the experience of being able to see all the wildlife and texas in this light was so special. los encinos were perfect hosts, making this a very memorable and one of my favorite texas experiences so far.

it was a truly awesome weekend!