Daniel Garza often helps teachers and military veterans buy their first home. As a result, his real estate business has grown and now he’s committed to giving back.
Backyard Heroes is a monthly event in which military veterans submit their war service stories for publication on social media sites, such as Facebook. Military veterans with the winning story are gifted with a $12,000 barbecue accessory for their backyard.
“I wanted to give back to our Armed Forces because we’re losing some of our older veterans who are retired grandfathers and the whole purpose of the event is to recognize their service to our country,” said Garza.
So far, 200 stories have been submitted by email to Backyard Heroes for consideration and the first monthly award is expected to be announced before Labor Day.
“It’s sponsored by our construction company because we now do one hundred percent financing for veterans,” Garza said in an interview. “We have received some story submissions from younger veterans and also from the sisters and daughters of fallen veterans from the Korean War, World War 2, Vietnam and more recent wars as well.”
Every month, a veteran or if fallen, his or her family, will be honored at various Rio Grande Valley Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) posts based on their submitted story. Afterward, sponsors will help build in the veteran’s backyard a barbecue pit, a seating area for friends and family and a covered pergola to provide shade while grilling.
“Our labor is free and we’re getting the lumber at cost but we might have to build with metal because lumber is so expensive right now,” Garza added. “We got together with the veteran hospital and military recruiters. We’re all super excited.”
In addition to showing his appreciation to military veterans, Garza also highly favors teachers.
For the past five years, Garza has been organizing a teacher appreciation event for Thanksgiving in which teachers receive a complimentary turkey. Despite statewide COVID-19 restrictions last year, Garza’s GIVE for Teachers was a success.
“The teachers picked up cupcakes, turkeys, fixings and other goodies but it was all drive through,” he said. “There were 400 cars that came through the car lot.”
The Bert Ogden Fiesta Nissan dealership at 5001 S I69C in Edinburg hosted the 2020 event and Garza managed to raise enough money to gift a $1,000 check.
“Everybody’s a little bit more relaxed with the whole masking now and being in public,” he said. “I think we should be able to get back to our regularly scheduled GIVE for Teachers event in November.”
Garza had intended to host a wine tasting for teachers with a live jazz band every three months but the planned quarterly event has turned into just a giveaway.
“We haven’t been able to host any events for our teachers,” he said. “All we have been able to do is giveaways. We had a $1,000 giveaway, a $500 giveaway, gift cards and a couple of Cricket Arts and Craft Machines.”
Juliette Fairley is a graduate of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Born in Chateauroux, France, and raised outside of Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, Juliette is a well-adjusted military brat who now lives in Manhattan. She has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, TheStreet, Time magazine, the Chicago City Wire, the Austin-American Statesman, and many other publications across the country.
This article was published in American Essence magazine.