Dismayed by the negative impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, local personal injury attorney, Jesse Gonzalez, is lending his support to two disparate groups – graduates and the news media.
Gonzalez, Founder and Chief Managing Member of JGonzalez Injury Attorneys, is sponsoring The Monitor’s “Show us your prom Attire” campaign. The promotion invites Valley high school seniors to send in pictures of themselves dressed in prom attire. The pandemic has led to the cancellation of proms, effectively robbing them of one of life’s most-memorable rites of passage.
“Graduation ceremonies and proms are rites of passage that transcend mere pomp and circumstance,” said Gonzalez. “These are among the best memories for me and I think for all of us. Doing something like this for me is about restoring the spirit of what these events stand for.”
Gonzalez says he wanted to restore some semblance of normality by giving local seniors something tangible to hold on to, and look back on. He also wanted it to be free of charge so he’s picking up the tab by underwriting the promotion.
The McAllen native who grew up in Mission believes that giving graduates the opportunity to showcase their dresses and tuxedos will help salvage some of the memories that have been dashed in the interest of public health.
“They can always look back and say we were the class that had to deal with this pandemic and this is what we had to do,” said Gonzalez. “Having some memory, some point of reference they can point to, is obviously something that can be invaluable, especially when they talk to their kids and their grandkids about it. It’s just something that I thought needed to be done.”
Gonzalez is also dismayed about the push back the media have received as news outlets struggle to disseminate the sometimes conflicting information coming from officialdom. Gonzalez believes competing right-wing and left-wing television outlets have led many news consumers to either tune out, or blame local media outlets, who he feels are just trying to do their jobs without a political agenda.
In an effort to counter the criticism, Gonzalez is funding ads urging the public to support local journalists and reporters.
“We rely on local journalism to give us what we want, and that’s the news,” said Gonzalez. “We get it in an unbiased way. I can’t say that about some of the cable news networks, but I can say it for our local stations and our local papers. I think they are doing a fantastic job, and should be the model for the rest of our nation.”
Gonzalez lived in Minnesota for 17 years as the child of migrant farmworkers. He returned to attend high school and college here before leaving again to attend law school at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio. Ultimately, he returned to settle and practice in the area he considers home. Both of these campaigns, he says, are his small way of supporting the community he loves.
“The Valley is home for me,” said Gonzalez. “No matter where I go in the world, I always want to come back. This is why it’s important to me. I hope everything returns to normal soon, but we don’t know when that’s going to be. The economy has been hurt tremendously, and right now keeping the virus under control is important, but helping us get back to normal is equally important.”