Gathered recently for an interview at the SMDP Soup Kitchen in Española, from left, sisters and co-founders Theodora Valdez and Erlinda Quintana, Enterprise Bank & Trust Region President Liddie Martinez, 4th generation family members Lauren Trujillo, 7, and Aria Trujillo, 3, Francine Huerta (2nd generation), sister/co-founder Suzan Roybal and her granddaughter Kristen Trujillo (3rd generation). Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
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By CAROL A. CLARK
Los Alamos Daily Post
ESPAÑOLA – San Martin de Porres (SMDP) Soup Kitchen in Española is nearing its 30th year serving hot meals to the poor and hungry in northern New Mexico communities.
Three sisters founded the nonprofit in July 1992, and now have Enterprise Bank & Trust in their corner helping them and their passionate volunteers make great things happen every day for those in need.
The SMDP Soup Kitchen feeds 50 to 100 people a day, provides food baskets, assists with rent and utility bills and other critical needs for those suffering hard times.
Enterprise Region President Liddie Martinez describes the founding sisters, Theodora Valdez, Erlinda Quintana and Suzan Roybal, as great humanitarians.
“They are champions in the extended community and are always the first to volunteer when need is identified.” Martinez said. “The bank is honored to support their incredible endeavors, which mean so much to those they serve in our region.”
Roybal has served as executive director at the SMDP Soup Kitchen since its inception. She is now mentoring her granddaughter Kristen Trujillo to take the reins and keep their noble mission going. From the time she was 4 years old, Trujillo, 34, accompanied her mother Francine Huerta to the soup kitchen. As she grew older, she learned to help her mother, grandmother and aunts. She now serves as administrator.
“This has always been a huge part of my life … I’ve always admired my grandmother and think I also have a calling to help the poor as she does,” Trujillo said. “I am very blessed to have her as my grandmother and my mentor. God puts certain people in certain places, we all have a calling and we should all help each other. I am just so proud of my grandmother. She and my aunties are beautiful and wonderful people and I want to continue their legacy … I know I have very, very big shoes to fill.”
Trujillo also spoke about the importance of Enterprise’s support to her families’ mission to feed the poor.
“We think the world of Liddie and Enterprise,” Trujillo said. “They are a huge support to us, and we admire them for not only all they do to help us but for what they do to help so many other nonprofits and community organizations … Enterprise is wonderful.”
SMDP serves hot lunches and food baskets to anyone referred to them by a church or state agency. They serve the physically ill, disabled, homeless, unemployed, low-income and senior citizens.
“We do not turn anyone away … if they tell us that they are hungry – we feed them,” Roybal said. “When you allow yourself to walk and talk with God, he allows great things to happen!”
While it began as a small community outreach effort providing meals three times a week, due to the expanded need in the community the soup kitchen is now open five days a week.
In co-operation with the City of Española and the local HUD program, the SMDP Soup Kitchen operates out of the Apple Valley Senior Center. The facility is loaned to SMDP rent and utility free by the Española Housing Authority.
During a recent interview at SMDP, the founding sisters spoke about how they came to dedicate nearly three decades of their life to this mission. In April of 1989, they took a pilgrimage to Medjugorie (Medjugorje) and described that journey as completely changing the direction of their lives. They explained that since 1981, in the small village of Medjugorie in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Blessed Virgin Mary has been appearing and giving messages to the world.
On their fateful trip, the sisters met Florida Ortega. She was a cancer survivor who told them she had been healed after praying to the Blessed Mother. Heat came over her body and she was healed, Ortega said, adding that she was traveling to Medjugorie in thanksgiving as a promise for her healing.
Ortega’s story and other spiritual experiences on that trip transformed the sisters. They said they knew they had a calling and upon their return spent nearly two years researching the best way to establish an effective, efficient nonprofit to feed the hungry.
The operation of the SMDP Soup Kitchen is quite simple. It is managed and maintained 100 percent by its volunteers. The volunteers prepare and serve all the meals and are responsible for clean-up and maintenance of the facility.
Volunteers are always needed, and people may volunteer as little as one day per month.
“We ask anyone, or any organization interested in volunteering to please contact us,” Roybal said. “We also welcome donations in any amount to help us feed those in need. Tax deductible donations can be made by cash, check or through PayPal. Food donations also are appreciated. Please call to schedule food donation drop off times.”
The sisters ask readers to help spread the word to those in need.
“Do you know someone who goes without daily lunch or could use a good meal? Send them our way … many people do not know we are here for them,” they said.
To learn more, volunteer or donate food or funds, call 505.753.4956 or email email@example.com.
San Martin de Porres Soup Kitchen co-founders and sisters from left, Theodora Valdez, Erlinda Quintana and Suzan Roybal gather recently for an interview at their facility in Española. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com
The San Martin de Porres Soup Kitchen at 171 W. Jonathon Dr., in Española. Courtesy photo