Volunteers making a difference

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While some people might not have the monetary means to contribute to their favorite charity or local organization, most can pitch in their time and effort for a good cause.

Local PNM employees did just that recently as they worked side by side with other volunteers cleaning up and getting El Corazon de Belen Garden Park ready for this year’s planting season and sprucing up the Enchantment Little League facility in Los Lunas.

Clara Garcia-News-Bulletin photo: Joe Sambrano, a linesman with PNM, places a bat house at El Corazon de Belen Garden Park on top of a pole during the company’s Day of Service. The bat house will help with the insects in the area.

On Friday, April 25, PNM employees from Valencia County spent the afternoon giving back to their communities as part of the company’s third annual Day of Service.

Donna Holliday, an administrator with PNM’s community relation’s department, said the company gave its employees an opportunity to go out in the community and volunteer their services.

“Because I live in Valencia County, I recruited, as we did last year, Valencia County employees to come and grow the garden,” Holliday said of the work at the community garden. “We have seen the fruits of our labors, literally, and it’s a win-win — it’s a win-win for our community and it’s a win-win for the food pantry that benefits from the vegetables of the garden.”

Along with painting a new potting shed and constructing and insulating raised garden beds, PNM employees also installed a pole for a bat house and a coyote fence, which is a trellis situated behind a new bench made from old doors in the garden. They planted two additional trees as well.

The garden, which is located on the corner of Fifth Street and Dalies Avenue, has been a community-driven effort to not only raise vegetables for the Belen Area Food Pantry, but to beautify downtown Belen.

“It’s an exciting and enthusiastic afternoon for the 12 PNM employees and the other UNM student volunteers,” Holliday said. “When you work for a company that really engages its employees to give back to the community, it makes me proud to work for this company.”

Along with PNM volunteers, students from UNM’s senior seminar communication class and clients with Adelante also helped on the Day of Service.

Local volunteers, such as Dubra Karnes-Padilla, have been the driving force behind the park since its inception in 2011. With nothing but a piece of land, the group continues to raise funds to help nurture the garden.

“PNM donated money for garden beds last year and then they gave us a $10,000 community development grant to help add more boxes, the potting shed, the bench, and we still need a little more to erect a fence,” Karnes-Padilla said. “With PNM’s man and woman power, we’ve been able to get a lot done. It’s their ‘up’ attitude that makes this worth while and they’re a great group of people to work with.”

Along with help from PNM, community members and Toby’s Doors donated more than 20 doors for the unique potting shed, the bench and arbor above the bench. Students from Belen Middle School’s industrial arts class constructed the garden beds, the potting shed as well as the bench.

“We’re also planning on erecting a Little Free Library in which the community can come and get a free book and hopefully leave one for another,” Karnes-Padilla said.

Joe Sambrano, at Tomé resident who has been a PNM linesman for the past 12 years, said he volunteered because he felt it’s always a pleasure to help the community.

“We’re all working for a great cause, which is helping this park get going,” Sambrano said. “Any help we can be is great. I appreciate the fact that PNM gives us the chance to help out in our community.

“With all the programs that are around for our kids and our families, it’s important to help whenever you can,” he said. “With the company letting us do this on a day like today, I feel great.”

Rebecca Newport, the project manager for PNM’s generation development, and her crew worked at Enchantment Little League in Los Lunas, helping spruce up the second level of the concession stands.

“We’re coordinating their back office, cleaning up a lot of their old forms and stuff that has kind of been stagnant and deciding if its worthwhile to keep,” Newport. “We also have a couple of Enchantment board members, one of who actually works for PNM, helping us out.”

Newport said those who helped at ELL live in Valencia County and in some way or another, have been affected by the fields and the league.

“Many of us have kids, nephews or nieces, who play here,” she said. “We all have been touched by this league at one point in our lives, and when the opportunity arises to help this facility, we all jumped at it.

“As an employee, we represent the company during the Day of Service,” she said. “PNM puts out the opportunity and we can decide what we want to do.

“With these service days, we can directly impact our community on behalf of PNM, but most importantly, for ourselves and the community.”


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