FARMINGTON — A mother of five who has been teaching emergency preparedness was honored as San Juan College's volunteer of the year Thursday during a ceremony at the Henderson Fine Arts building.

After receiving the award, Leann Charlie told The Daily Times that she was inspired to volunteer with the American Red Cross after a car crash killed one of the group's volunteers who was from Bloomfield.

"That kind of pushed me because I thought about him," she said.

More than 30 individuals and groups were nominated for San Juan College's volunteer of the year awards in four different categories, which included group, individual, senior and youth. Charlie received the individual award.

When the American Red Cross introduced the pillowcase project, officials hoped 650 children statewide could be trained in the technique, which involves putting toiletries and other things they would need in an emergency in a pillowcase that is kept readily accessible in case of an evacuation. Charlie topped that goal by personally educating about 700 San Juan County children.

In addition to educating children, she has worked with the the Red Cross on a volunteer basis to install smoke detectors and teach fire safety.

Now she is looking at becoming certified to help people after disasters.

“She’s taking it to the next level,” said Lucy Haber, the assistant director of San Juan College's community learning center, during a Wednesday phone interview before the ceremony.

Helpful Heroes Junior Civitans received the group volunteer of the year award based on its suicide prevention and awareness campaign. The club created a social media video about suicide.

Mati Fosnot, 13, wrote the script for the video. She said many of the club members knew people who had committed suicide.

"It just took a big toll on us," Fosnot said.

Bonnie Dallas Senior Center volunteer Eugene Baker was honored for his work teaching AARP drivers’ safety courses, driving for Meals on Wheels and helping start an advisory board.

“He really cares about people,” Haber said.

Aztec High School senior MaxMileon McIntosh was recognized for his community service at two organizations where his mother serves as a director. Rein Dance and the Aztec Senior Center nominated McIntosh, citing his work with the horses used for therapy at Rein Dance and his help with community events like the Thanksgiving dinner at the senior center.

“He’s one of the people that they’ve just come to count on with stuff like that,” Haber said.

Hannah Grover covers Aztec and Bloomfield, as well as general news, for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.

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