Leadership Los Alamos Class Focuses On Community Organizations

Jonathan Creel of PEEC talks with Leadership Los Alamos participants Paul Andrus and Jonathan Henley during the recent LLA Session at the Betty Ehart Senior Center. Photo by Martha Katko
Leadrship Los Alamos Board

The Leadership Los Alamos Class of 2015-2016 met last month at the Betty Ehart Senior Center to focus on Community Organizations.

The session chairs Pauline Powell Schneider, executive director for Los Alamos Retired & Senior Organization, and Geoff Goins, Bandelier Ranger and Night Sky Program coordinator, invited speakers who would provide an overview of the importance of non-profits, their role in a community, the challenges they face and why for-profit organizations choose to support non-profits.

Local attorney Lynn Finnegan introduced the concept of non-profits, discussing what they are and what we should know about them. A non-profit organization is mainly purpose driven, whereas a for-profit is profit-driven. Non-profits must be governed by boards, and Finnegan talked about the role of board members and legal issues that must be maintained.

Once the class had this basic framework, Yvonne Maestas, executive director for the Espanola Valley/Los Alamos Habitat for Humanity affiliate provided further insight as to the impact non-profits can make as illustrated by Habitat for Humanity EVLA. This group, relying on the support of hundreds of volunteers since 1994 has built new homes and provided major home repairs for 50 homes through their Brush with Kindness program.

Maestas underlined that the new home owners must provide many hours of sweat equity and then make monthly mortgage payments. The current project is building a home in Los Alamos for a single mother with a small child. The recipient of the house, Ivette, addressed the class and talked about her housing challenges and how much having her own home would impact her future.

A number of members of the class joined in helping clean the property on Questa Drive later in the month and a few have committed to seeing the project all the way through.

Friends of the Shelter (FOS) volunteer Kersti Rock brought Reeba, one of the dogs residing at the Animal Shelter, who made her way around the room greeting everyone. Rock explained how Friends of the Shelter provides not only financial support for the shelter, but more importantly they provide friendship for the animals. Volunteers take the dogs outside everyday, which helps keep the dogs calmer and also helps socialize them so they are more adoptable.

The FOS also coordinates fostering animals, promoting adoption as well as paying for medical care and spay/neutering of homeless animals in north central New Mexico.

To truly augment the LLA participants awareness of non-profits in the region, a Community Organizations Fair was held in the afternoon, with around 20 organizations setting up informational tables in the BESC cafeteria. Participants could be seen in animated conversations, both those presenting their organization and those who might be interested in supporting those organizations.

Kathy Keith, director of the Community Programs Office at Los Alamos National Laboratory discussed LANL’s involvement in supporting the community on a regional level. To complete the day, Goins, as the coordinator of many volunteer efforts, and Jonathan Creel, director of Interpretation at the Pajarito Environmental Education Center, held a discussion about the joys and challenges of running events and organizations that rely on volunteer support.

Leadership Los Alamos is now is gearing up for their next session Friday, Nov. 6 at Fuller Lodge. This month the focus is on “cultural” aspects of the community, chaired by Heather McClenahan. The class is looking forward to an information packed day to arouse their enthusiasm and identify areas in which they can participate in supporting the community.

Leadership Los Alamos was founded to identify current and emerging leaders in the Los Alamos community, enhance their leadership skills, and deepen their knowledge of the challenges and opportunities facing the area. The class of 2015-2016 will learn about both the inner and outer workings of community organizations, cultural aspects, youth, education, local government, economic development and environmental issues.

LLA participant David Sutton shares stories with seniors. Photo by Martha Katko

Friends of the Shelter volunteer Kersti Rock brought Reeba to the session. Photo by Martha Katko

LLA participant Cindy Hayes shares a personal story. Photo by Martha Katko

LA participant Troy Hughes chats at the Community Organizations Fair. Photo by Martha Katko