This past weekend, the communities of Lincoln County and Mescalero flocked to Mountain Annie’s Center for the Arts to join Help End Abuse for Life (HEAL) at the 2013 Heroes with Heart Awards Gala that celebrates local individuals and groups who have gone above and beyond the call of duty.
This year’s winners came from all walks of life. Many of them had championed services for disaster relief during and after the Little Bear Fire of June 2012.
Here are the 2013 HEAL Heroes with Heart.
The BIA Mescalero Agency (Helitack, Engines, Forestry Staff) was selected for their firefighting work, particularly in preserving Ski Apache during the Little Bear Fire. The firefighters took and maintained control over the lightning strike until the Forestry Department could get there. Once the fire began spreading, they returned to prevent the fire from moving further onto the Mescalero Reservation and into Ruidoso.
The Fire Team at Ski Apache was selected for firefighting, too, but they are resort employees who normally do maintenance on the trails, ski lifts and vehicles; but during the Little Bear Fire, they found themselves on the ground, fighting heroically with saws, snow makers and water trucks, and spraying and cutting down trees, in an effort to save the resort from the fire. The team was absolutely instrumental in preserving the grounds and preventing the fire from overtaking the ski runs.
Carl and Lisa Bartley were selected for their work with the Bonito Fire Department, for their 400+ hours of volunteer services during and after the Little Bear Fire, including donating their equipment and effort to clear away many acres of burned trees and for running City Bank New Mexico’s soldier care package programs.
Kristyn Arnold was selected for her efforts in working to support the local “Heifer Project” that raises money for Heifer International and World Vision International. Together, these charities focus on feeding the poor, providing clean water and renewable food sources, and rescuing sexually exploited girls from the sex slave trade.
TeamBuilders of Ruidoso and Mescalero were selected because it provides services to empower children, families, and community. Its vision is to provide unconditional care, change the lives of others, help them to recognize and develop their strengths and acknowledge and overcome their limitations, and improve the quality of life for its communities.
Harlan Vincent is the Interim Chief, Assistant Chief, Emergency Management Coordinator, and Fire Marshal of the Ruidoso Fire Department, where he has worked for the last 22 years, serving in every rank. He was selected for his outstanding, remarkable level of dedication and service in defending Ruidoso and its people every day within his line of work. His management of staff and resources during the Little Bear Fire has been applauded by many.
Cheryl and Pete Blanchard are the owners of Alto Café and were selected because they opened up their restaurant as a refuge for victims and emergency personnel, provided free meals to victims for six months, and organized housing, relief, and emergency supply stores within the community.
Brendan Gochenour is a local chef who was selected for his work with Mountain Annie’s Center for the Arts to provide free meals to victims and emergency personnel during the Little Bear Fire. He also works selflessly in his family’s church J Bar J, spearheaded the Nest Best Soup competition for the Empty Bowl Event, served on the HEAL Strategic Planning Committee as a community volunteer and most recently, stood as a caregiver and dear friend of Perry Champion in his final days.
Dorlynn Simmons is the CEO of the Mescalero Indian Hospital. She volunteers with the Mescalero Women’s Wellness Program and keeps tribal women’s best interest at heart. She is also a member of the school board and works very hard at making a difference in the lives of tribal youth. She once endeavored to protect the lives of young men and women in Mescalero by helping to bring resources for mental health programs for youth, raising awareness about issues teens face, and changing laws and processes regarding the treatment of those in need of care.
The Smokey Bear Hotshots are the local unit of the national Interagency Hotshot Crew. They are a team of highly-trained firefighters who have passed rigorous physical fitness tests, taken dozens of hours of classes and often are in the field for days at a time. The team spent 14 days during the Little Bear Fire constructing fire lines and burning out fuel at locations across the area, including subdivisions near the Nazarene Church Camp, Ski Apache, Ski Run Road, the Bonito Creek area, and the White Mountain Wilderness.
Godfrey Gomez Godfrey Gomez was selected because of the significant impact he made when, after taking over the local distributorship of bread products, he chose to donate about $500 worth of bread every week to the Food 4 Kids back pack program. He also donates to the local food banks and churches. Godfrey has served as a volunteer firefighter for 10 years, is a member of the Hondo Valley School Board and the Board for weed control in the area.
Dr. Stephen Rath of the Fusion Medical Spa was selected for his services in providing free tattoo and scar removal for survivors of domestic violence living at The Nest. He also serves as a ski patrol medic, a surgeon with the National Guard, a pilot with Angel Flights, which arranges free transportation to financially-distressed individuals in need of medical care and, most recently, as a supportive, loving friend to Perry Champion in his final days.
Perry Champion received his Heroes with Heart award posthumously as a dedicated friend of all in the community. He was an honorary member of Altrusa International for his work on Vino Bingo to support cancer research and as MC of their annual fashion show, an adventurous writer for both the Ruidoso News and the Ruidoso Free Press, a dedicated ally and advocate for the women and children at the Nest Domestic Violence Program in creative fundraising ideas and even serving as the Official Nest Chef. He supported those displaced by the Little Bear Fire by working tirelessly at the Café at Mountain Annie’s to provide free meals for the entire month of June.
Corina Montoya was chosen by her coworkers to receive the 2013 HEAL Advocate of the Year. She pushes herself well outside of her personal comfort levels to provide support and care for her clients at The Nest. She helps to distribute the Recovery Bibles from Church out of Church and champions the Faith Hour, Women Helping Women, and Girls’ Night Out support groups at The Nest. She is a valuable member of this community and an important part of The Nest team. As an experienced Advocate, she handles crises and provides skill development, care and advocacy in her work with the domestic violence survivors at the Nest.
Please join us in congratulating the 2013 HEAL Heroes with Heart. They are strongly dedicated, charitable examples of what a person or organization can and will do when they fall in love with our community and its causes. Together, they accomplish what they each set out to do – transform Lincoln County and Mescalero.
HEAL would also like to thank the ceremony’s sponsors: Mountain Annie’s Center for the Arts for providing its’ beautiful venue for the Awards Gala, all the members of the community who nominated their heroes, all who came to support the event, the past HEAL Heroes who returned to announce the new winners, Ed Spurr for lighting and audio services, Harvey Twite, Tomas Vigil, Marcia King, Jon Soden, Alice Seely Warder, Ruidoso Valley Chamber of Commerce, the posting of the colors by Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, Vietnam Veterans of America and Disabled American Veterans and local media outlets KEDU, KBUY, KRUI, Ruidoso Free Press and the Ruidoso News.
Pictured are the 2013 HEAL Heroes with Heart.