IGNC Promotes International Friendship and Goodwill
Those familiar with the International Good Neighbor Council (IGNC) probably know the organization is responsible for Laredo’s Abrazo Children ceremony, which symbolizes the deep ties that link the United States and Mexico. The IGNC, however, has a much more storied history that dates back more than half a century.
It was in 1954 when two prominent businessmen, Jose F. Muguerza of Mexico and Glen Garret of the United States, founded the international organization. Their objective was to promote friendship between the countries of the Western Hemisphere, with a focus on the United States and Mexico.
The headquarters of the IGNC was in Monterrey, Mexico, but it wasn’t long before chapters started sprouting up all along the border in Mexico, including the Laredo chapter in 1961.
The IGNC organizes numerous events aimed at increasing good relations between Mexico and the United States. Each fall, all the chapters in both countries join together in the U.S. for a convention. They meet in the same way in the Spring in Mexico. At each convention, the members who are everyday citizens of their respective countries, discuss important, relevant issues. Some of these include education, immigration and healthcare.
In the fall of 2015, the IGNC Laredo Chapter and the Consejo de Nuevo Laredo held a fundraising event at the Laredo Country Club to raise funds for club projects and scholarships. The event was a success with hundreds of supporters from both sides of the border attending.
Additionally, the different chapters of the IGNC present scholarships based on merit and need in the fall and spring. The Laredo Chapter established an endowed scholarship at Texas A&M International University in the name of Renato Zapata, Sr., one of the founders and strong advocate of the local chapter.
The most well-known IGNC event for Laredoans is the Bridge Ceremony, a tradition since the 1800’s. The council became involved in the ceremony in 1969 when Velia E. Uribe introduced the idea of the children exchanging an abrazo, or a warm embrace, along with the adult officials.
Since then, there has been a ceremony featuring the children every year. Many of the children have gone on to become successful adults. Some of the Abrazo Children selected through the years are even second generation kids, who, as their parents did in their early years, are now representing either the U.S. or Mexico as an Abrazo Child.
The 2015-2016 IGNC Laredo Chapter Officers
Christmas Season Project
The International Good Neighbor Council is proud to sponsor Hospital Civil for its annual Christmas Project. The project, initiated in 1995, seeks donations of toys and supplies for newborns and their mothers who are patients at the Nuevo Laredo hospital during the Christmas holidays.
Hospital Civil is selected each year as the appropriate place to deliver gifts and necessities because of the economic and social needs of its clients. The hospital is a maternity hospital that also cares for pediatric patients, so the goal each year is to collect necessary items for newborns, their parents, and their siblings.
Many Nuevo Laredo physicians dedicated to the well being of their patients provide services at this hospital, and thanks to the leadership of numerous directors, the hospital is well maintained and services a large number of patients through many social organizations.
Through everyone’s efforts, including many volunteers, IGNC members are able to assemble approximately 30 diaper bags for newborns, and an additional 30 goody bags for their mothers, which include necessities such as soap, deodorant and shampoo. An additional 200 toys are also distributed to children of all ages who attend the Advent Season Posadas.
U.S. Citizenship Ceremony
Twice each year, members of the International Good Neighbor Council enthusiastically welcome new U.S. citizens with a pin, as well as provide them with voter registration information, during their Citizenship Ceremony held in U.S. Federal Court. This beautiful ceremony is a reflection of what the United States offers immigrants—a safe and culturally diverse country.
‘A Day at the Movies’ for Bethany House Children
As a special treat during the holiday season, children living at the Bethany House Shelter Complex/Transitional Housing are treated to the movies by the (current year) Abrazo Children.
For the children living at the shelter, a movie is a treat that most cannot afford. Initiating this project is certainly a labor of love so that these children can forget their circumstances—at least for a day—during the holiday season.
The International Good Neighbor Council (IGNC) Laredo Chapter was founded in 1961. The objective was to promote friendship between the countries of the Western Hemisphere, with a focus on the United States and Mexico.
Fall Social Fundraising Project
In the fall of each year, the IGNC Laredo Chapter and the Consejo de Nuevo Laredo host a festive social bringing members from both organizations together for a night of fun. The themed-event raises funds for club projects and scholarships, and traditionally, brings out hundreds of supporters from both sides of the border.