Community Assets Awards Wrap Up

Eddie Crain of Healing America’s Heroes and Donna McHenry received the Director’s Choice. McHenry for her work with the  Los Alamos Fire Department and hands-only CPR program. Photo by Chad Lauritzen

Lifeguards of the Larry Walkup Aquatic Center were some of the more than 20 nominated for their dedication and professionalism. Photo by Chad Lauritzen


Champions of Youth Ambitions

Saturday evening was filled with celebration and a few tears as the 10th annual Community Assets Awards were held at the Betty Ehart Senior Center.

Jack Clifford took home the top award, nominated by Jackie Hurtle, after a chance meeting. Hurtle encountered Clifford at the White Rock Senior Center and his kindness and hospitality encouraged her to pursue additional information to submit for a Community Assets Award nomination.

Clifford has volunteered at the center for 22 years, logging more than 8,000 hours, baking, gardening, buying treats, fundraising for furniture, exercise equipment and more. It was his ability to make a new person feel like an old friend that was the C’YA motto of, “Take A Second, Make A Difference,” that allowed the “Sunshine Man,” to rise to the top.

Eddie Crain of Healing America’s Heroes and Donna McHenry of Los Alamos County, were the winners of the Director’s Choice awards.

McHenry was acknowledged for her work to educate the community with hands-only CPR for Project Heart Smart and her tireless work to ensure our EMT’s are fully certified and properly trained through her attention to detail, involving many donated hours.

Crain was highlighted for creating a nonprofit to assist returning veterans, with a healing therapy program. The HAH program for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Military Sexual Trauma and Traumatic Brain Injury consists of five days of recreational horse and fly-fishing/fly-tying therapies in the natural environment of beautiful Chama at no cost to participants. 

Seven lifeguards from the Aquatic Center were honored for keeping safe those taking lessons, doing recreational swimming and swim and diving program, with their professionalism, training and response during emergencies.

Educators were heralded for their work on a daily basis, to build the future leaders of our communities. Elisa Christon, Svetlana Skurikhin and Cynthia Richard are educators who utilize kindness and compassion to achieve their goals. Richard brought several to tears when the words of wounded solider Ezra Maes were read for her nomination, after she created a video of current day Chamisa children and staff re-enacting his favorite school memory.

“These last five months have been the most difficult of my entire life, both emotionally and physically,” Maes said. “Knowing that I remain in the thoughts and prayers of all of them gives me strength and confidence that this recovery will go smoothly and in my times of weakness I can turn to them knowing that I’ll be showered with support and gratitude.”

The video is available to be seen on the Champions of Youth Ambitions Facebook page or at the following link:

A surprise nomination for C’YA Board President Claire Swinhoe came all the way from Australia. Swinhoe received the spotlight for her volunteer work with the Los Alamos Police Department, Beta Sigma Phi and many other community endeavors. The nomination was signed, “Natalie Swinhoe, the luckiest daughter in the world.” Her brother George provided additional words of wisdom.

Thirty nominees, along with friends and family attended at the 10th annual Community Asset Awards. Later this week in the Los Alamos Daily Post we will highlight some of the additional 30 nominees unable to attend Saturday’s gathering due to other commitments.

Nominations for 2019 will open later this week and will be accepted throughout the year.

Learn more about Champions of Youth Ambitions at