Unsung Hero: Rebecca Romine


Some of the News-Bulletin’s Unsung Heroes never really get to reap any benefit for their years of service.

Jason W. Brooks-News-Bulletin photo: Rebecca Romine volunteers at CareNet and with the Christian Motorcycle Association. Service work is so important to her, she went back to volunteering soon after having open-heart surgery.

That was not really the case for Rebecca Romine. The Los Lunas resident had to undergo emergency surgery about 2 1/2 years ago, and the people and organizations she has helped were right there at her bedside, ready to return the favor.

“You get so much more back, when you give it,” said Romine. “A lot of the people I work with (on charity causes) rallied around me in my darkest hours. Although it was the Lord who spared my life, it was people who prayed with me and for me.”

Romine became one of the 2012 Unsung Heroes largely through her presence volunteering with the CareNet Pregnancy Center of Valencia County and the Victory Riders, a county chapter of the Christian Motorcyclist Association.

From maintaining the clothing closet at CareNet to helping plan and organize events, Romine is described by many of her acquaintances as someone who is always willing to help out, in any way needed.

In fact, it was almost fitting Romine needed to have open-heart surgery in 2010. According to her colleagues, a big, open heart is exactly what Romine has shown in her service to the community.

“Rebecca is a great organizer, who makes things work,” said Rich Joos of the Victory Riders. “She not only cracks the whip, she brings up things we don’t see, in planning events. And she’s so supportive. We look for opportunities to support each other, and she is the example.”

Glenda Miller, director of CareNet’s Valencia County center and a member of the Victory Riders, describes Romine as sort of a utility player, willing to step into any role in the CareNet office.

“Rebecca has a pure servant’s heart,” said Miller. “She does whatever needs to be done. One of Rebecca’s main things is the clothing closet, and she does a great job with it. But she will also do things like answer phones and do reception work.”

Romine, 59, can call on a plethora of life experiences when helping others. She was born Rebecca Turnbull and raised in New York, earning an applied-science degree in dental hygiene at Erie Community College before joining the U.S. Air Force.

She found New Mexico because her final U.S. Air Force deployment was at Kirtland Air Force Base. She met and married James Romine, who she credits for not only supporting her through tough times, but also for doing the not-so-glamorous jobs at charity events.

“James will do the little things,” she said. “He even helped out selling snow cones.”

Romine has two daughters who live in the Los Lunas area, a son who lives in Oklahoma and four grandchildren. She has had paid jobs in the helping professions, worked as a Belen Schools crossing guard and at a day care for small children.

One of her volunteer efforts was at the Valencia County Abundant Grace Free Store, now located in Rio Communities, along with several roles in prayer-alliance efforts.

Linda Stopyak has only known Romine for about three years, but she saw enough hard work and dedication in her friend to nominate her for the Unsung Hero honor.

“Rebecca got right back into volunteering,” Stopyak said. ” She was cleaning up in the kitchen at an event just a few days after open-heart surgery. She is still always willing to help out.”

Stopyak said her friend is not only a ready volunteer and an organizer, as Romine has decided to be the primary liaison between her church and other organizations, but she also jumps in to help with more immediate situations.

“She took me to the dentist once, in an emergency,” she said. “And I have seen her pulling weeds at her church.”

Stopyak said Romine’s attitude and disposition are a big part of her identity.

“If you’re having a bad day, and you talk to Rebecca, you won’t be bummed out any more,” said Stopyak. “There are no headaches or anything that can ruin her day. She is so upbeat. She never frowns.”

Stopyak said her friend makes the effort to visit sick friends in the hospital and pray with them.

Joos said Romine is so passionate about helping others and how her faith works through others, it actually is too overwhelming for her to make any type of evangelical talks.

That is not a knock against Romine, he said, but it is an indication of how deeply she cares for fellow human beings.

“Rebecca has a genuine gift,” said Joos. “When her emotion boils over, we can’t take it. But she is so great at organizing events, that she channels that energy into cracking the whip and getting everyone on the same page.”

Her husband, James, is the motorcycle driver, and though she merely rides along, there is plenty to do at a bike rally. Romine said she has helped out at both Christian and secular motorcycle rallies, making food for riders. She speaks fondly of a rally in Red River.

One of the Christian Motorcyclists’ main annual projects is the Run for the Son, which was held this year in Arkansas. The rally is a fundraiser that divides its proceeds among different missionary funds.

Food and toy drives are common charity efforts for at least one of her groups or organizations. Her participation in a sort of traveling Bible-study group not only takes her to churches across the county, but to different denominations as well.

Carrying the Christian message is a high priority for Romine, whether it is through praying a blessing over food or a motorcycle, or praying with someone going through a daunting moment.

She encourages not only the reading of the Bible, but also practicing its positive principles in daily life.

“I want people to be able to see Christ in me,” said Romine, her voice cracking with emotion. “When you give yourself to others, the faith means so much more. You may never even have to mention the name of Jesus. Love can be spread, even to those who may never know Him.”

-- Email the author at jbrooks@news-bulletin.com.