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Las Crucens put values into action


If you want to see what people in Las Cruces believe, watch what they do.

They believe compassion is a fundamental value, so they do things for their family, their friends and, most startlingly, people they don’t even know, or may not even get a chance to know.

I’ve written about this topic many times, but it never stops being relevant, and Las Crucens never stop doing amazing things out of compassion.

Just the past few weeks, the beautiful people of New Mexico hammered home several more reminders of the good works they so frequently do.

I was out of town this weekend and unable to attend La Gran Fiesta.

Once again, though, the folks at CARE (Cancer Aid Resource & Education) put on an impressive event and raised lots of money for people struggling with cancer. The whole concept of CARE came about when Yoli Diaz and Leticia Soto saw family members and friends suffering not only from the pain of the disease but from dozens of financial burdens that accompanied it.

They felt if some of those financial burdens could be lifted, patients could have a better quality of life and, in some cases, be better equipped to physically fight the disease.

Like most organizations, CARE began small. They incorporated in 2013, and have grown to amazing heights, helping many people in ways big and small. For her efforts, Diaz was named one of the New Mexico True Heroes in 2018, a program created to recognize people making a difference in the Land of Enchantment.

With the same kind of “Why don’t we try this?” spirit, Lorenzo Alba, executive director of our local food pantry, Casa de Peregrinos, decided to do a hunger strike to raise awareness of the serious issue of hunger in our county. A local “angel” told Alba she would match whatever was raised up to $10,000.

So, Alba decided to give up eating for 24 hours beginning Sept. 17.

A dozen or so people joined the hunger strike, spreading the word among friends and family, and at the end of 24 hours, nearly $24,000 was raised to help feed the local hungry. A lot of small and medium donations and few big donations added up quickly.

I was one of those who fasted for 24 hours, and it’s something everyone should do now and again. It’s so easy to take for granted that, for most of us, food is all around us all the time, and don’t even give a second thought about where it’s coming from.

Also last week, I attended the Girl Scouts of the Desert Southwest’s annual Women of Distinction luncheon.

For the seventh straight year, the Girl Scouts honored outstanding regional women from a variety of fields, with the theme of Lighting the World.

Honorees for a lifetime of work were:

  • Kay Brilliant, a retired educator who worked with the National Education Association locally and nationally. She’s also a Girl Scout alum, who brought along her childhood Girl Scout leader: her 100-year-old mother, Virginia Brilliant.
  • Julia Brown, city manager of Sunland Park who previously served as Doña Ana County manager and has done lots of great work, public and private, as an attorney.
  • Another retired educator, Mary Lou Brown taught elementary school for 34 years and now does mission work with the Methodist Church, along with other important charitable work.
  • Jean Gilbert, also a retired teacher, now exercises her passion for animals with work on the Humane Society of Southern New Mexico.
  • Ana Mangino’s 40-year career in banking has enabled her to do great community work outside of her vocation, including the Las Cruces Rotary Club and several youth and women’s organizations.

The Scouts also inaugurated the Jo Tice Bloom award, honoring the lifetime Girl Scout member and community contributor who passed away last June.

The inaugural award went to the charitable organization Revolution 120, which works to help families and groups in times of crisis. Most recently, Revolution 120 raised nearly $35,000 to help families and victims of the Aug. 3 shooting in El Paso. Organizing members include Marci Dickerson, Jennifer Bales, Wanda Bowman, Misti Kastl, Cindy Torres, Jenn Baca, Sumer Rose-Nolen, Jazmine Rubio and Marcia Weist.

And among all this talk of local heroes, don’t forget the city of Las Cruces was named one of 13 heroes on World Humanitarian Day last month. All the other 12 were individuals, but the city as a whole was recognized for its compassionate work with the overflow of asylum seekers that came through this year.

Just another day in the life of Las Cruces.

Watch what we do, and you’ll see what we believe.

It appears, mostly, we believe in each other.


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