Domestic violence coalition honors volunteers

Noel Lyn Smith,

FARMINGTON — Volunteers who assist domestic violence programs across the state were honored for their service today.

Jeanene Valdes, center, accepts the Community Hero Award from Opal Cole, left, executive director of the Family Crisis Center, and Pam Wiseman, right, executive director of the New Mexico Coalition Against Domestic Violence, during a ceremony on Thursday at the Bonnie Dallas Senior Center in Farmington.

Three local volunteers were among those honored by the New Mexico Coalition Against Domestic Violence at its sixth annual Community Hero Awards at the Bonnie Dallas Senior Center.

Farmington resident James Knight was honored by the Navajo United Methodist Center Inc., where he has been serving on the board for three and a half years. Knight, who is a branch manager of the U.S. Eagle Federal Credit Union, is the board treasurer and teaches clients how to be financially independent.

"I believe there is no such thing as an invaluable person. Everyone has something to contribute. They just have to make the effort," he said.

Knight became involved with the nonprofit organization after a credit union member told him that his serving on the board would be a welcome addition. He started by organizing fundraising events, then moved into administrative duties.

Volunteering long has been part of his life. Prior to moving to Farmington, he served as the director of the Special Olympics in Maryland.

"I personally feel very fortunate in my life, and I like to help others, he said.

The Family Crisis Center honored Jeanene Valdes and Lela Holmes for their contributions to the Farmington program.

Valdes started volunteering after a friend showed her the facility, and she saw how it was addressing domestic violence in the community. Throughout her five years of service, Valdes has helped the crisis center develop a social media presence and distribute information.

James Knight, right, of U.S. Eagle Federal Credit Union, talks to Alisha Chavez of the New Mexico Coalition Against Domestic Violence after receiving the Community Hero Award on Thursday during a ceremony at the Bonnie Dallas Senior Center in Farmington.

In addition, she serves on the committee that organizes the annual fundraiser Roses in Winter. She remains dedicated to the fundraiser as it starts a new chapter with the Purple Rose Country Soirée event in November.

Another cause important to Valdes is the River Reach Foundation, an organization dedicated to protecting the area's rivers, streams and lakes.

"You do stuff because it needs to be done, and you start to take ownership of it. It's always nice to be recognized because it's nice to know other people have notice it, but it's definitely not expected," Valdes said.

Holmes did not attend the ceremony, but her son, Chuck Holmes, accepted the award in her honor.

She has been helping the crisis center since it was started, and her work was instrumental in helping the program submit its first funding proposal to the New Mexico Human Services Department.

New Mexico Coalition Against Domestic Violence Director Pam Wiseman said it is important for the coalition, which has 27 member organizations, to recognize volunteers because they help fill a lot of roles.

Domestic violence is a statewide issue, and it takes a number of people to address it, but the programs cannot do it alone, she added.

"They give a lot. They don't expect anything in return," Wiseman said.

Also honored today were Jeremiah Fletcher, a volunteer with Grammy’s House in Artesia; Julian Garza, a volunteer with the Haven House in Rio Rancho; Patricia Bustillos, who volunteers with Enlace Comunitario in Albuquerque; and Jo Stasi, a volunteer with Valencia Shelter Services in Los Lunas.

Savers Store No. 1141 was honored for donations that benefited La Cases Inc. in Las Cruces.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636.