The apartment manager at Palm Terrace off Sam Houston in Harlingen has no idea Action 4 News is about to surprise her with the $400 Pay it 4Ward prize.
"Hi, I'm looking for Elvira Cortez?" Action 4's Ryan Wolf asked.
She thinks Action 4 News is here to ask about a tenant's reported concern.
"Listen we have an issue," Ryan said.
The issue is really a Pay it 4Ward nomination from Irasema Valadez.
She's hiding outside Elvira TMs office to thank her for gas money, food and friendship over the last year while living at the apartment complex.
"Nobody has ever brought me an issue or said anything," Elvira said.
"Well how about I bring the tenant in here so they can tell you," Ryan explained.
Irasema walks into the office and says, "I've been wanted to talk to you."
"What are you doing here?" Elvira says with a tear in her eye.
"I want to thank you for everything you've done for me and for everybody," Irasema said. "I just think now it's time to say thank you to you. And even though sometimes we really don't tell you how we feel, I just want you to know that we appreciate you. On behalf of FNB Insurance Agency and Action 4 News, I want to Pay it 4Ward."
Elvira begins to cry as she receives the $400 prize.
Irasema hands over the cash provided by FNB Insurance, the sponsor on Pay it 4Ward.
"I'm speechless," Elvira said.
As apartment manager for nearly the last 5 years, Elvira knows the names of all 140 residents living at Palm Terrace, including their children.
If one gets injured, she holds a fundraiser.
If somebody needs a ride, she gets behind the wheel to help.
Recently, the apartment complex raised the monthly rent.
Some elderly residents couldn't pay their rent as a result.
Elvira opened her wallet to ensure they could stay.
"They couldn't live here anymore if it wasn't for you," Ryan said.
"That's true," Elvira responded.
"How are you able to do that?" he asked.
"I just get the resources and I send it to them."
She credits her good will to her father's work as a minister and to her sister Esmeralda Vasquez who helped to raise her.
"I get the courage from her," she explained. "She's a breast cancer survivor. And she's the reason that we're here. Otherwise we wouldn't be here right now."
Her sister shares why she believes Elvira is the perfect Pay it 4Ward recipient.
"I'm just so happy that she got the Pay it 4Ward prize, because she's also been there for me when I went through breast cancer treatments and everything," Esmeralda said.
Bill Jones and staff with FNB Insurance shares how proud the agency is to partner with Pay it 4Ward and award cash to people like Elvira.
"We thank you so much for the wonderful, wonderful deed that you do," the sales director said. "It's just terrific what you do. So unselfish on your part, it really is. We bring good news. To report good deeds that have good outcomes. Action 4 News and FNB Insurance thanks you so much."
At Palm Terrace Apartments, tenants aren't a number--they're a name, according to Elvira.
"They're family. We're a family here."
A family with a true matriarch.
At the top, a woman who puts other people's needs before her own.
Elvira won't take the credit.
"They cook food for me too," she said. "I have peanut butter cookies that they bring me and cupcakes."
It TMs the type of kindness that gets rewarded in many ways.