Lemonade Living is fundraising to purchase the Lujan Homestead Cabin. Courtesy photo
Lujan cabin owner Shelly Cross approached Lemonade Living about buying the cabin. Courtesy photo
By KIRSTEN LASKEY
Los Alamos Daily Post
Lemonade Living has big dreams and with its plan to purchase the Lujan Homestead Cabin this week, many of those dreams are about to come true.
“When Lemonade Living first started, the goal was to build a farm and have an activities program with a long-term goal of a residential campus,” Lemonade Living Founder Melissa Arias said.
The creation of a jobs training program kicked off when Rose Chocolatier, 149 Central Park Square, was donated to Lemonade Living in 2019.
While Rose Chocolatier provides developmentally disabled young adults and adults with opportunities for employment and job training, Arias pointed out it is not necessarily the right fit for everyone.
She explained that running a food business has a lot of rules and regulations. The Lujan cabin, however, provides a more relaxed environment.
“This is an important step and I’m really excited about it,” Arias said. “I love working at the shop, but the farm is where I want to be.”
Once the cabin is purchased, Arias said there are a lot of plans for the place. They range from training members of Lemonade Living to be docents for tours of the cabin to raising livestock such as sheep and goats to doing fiber arts.
Whatever the activity, it is all going toward the goal of continuing the Los Alamos Public Schools’ living skills program, Arias said.
She has personal experience with the LAPS program. Arias said her daughter took part in the program in middle school and high school, which really helped with her daughter’s development because she was able to get out in the community.
However, when high schoolers age out of the program, they lose that opportunity and many end up back at home, Arias said.
She created Lemonade Living to change that and the Lujan cabin provides a chance to develop more social and living skills.
Whether caring for animals or doing fiber arts, the cabin offers a very therapeutic experience and the chance to enjoy the great outdoors, Arias said.
This is particularly important after a year of quarantines and dealing with the pandemic, she said.
“I think that is important,” Arias said. “It is not just about developmental disabilities. So many people have had to put their lives on hold and they miss that social interaction. This gives them social connections and living skills.”
“We have young adults and some not so young,” Arias said. “The kids have different levels of abilities. Some kids want to be very social and don’t always have the opportunity, so this gives them an opportunity.”
The cabin will not be exclusively for Lemonade Living; Arias said she wants to form partnerships with other organizations and services in the community.
For instance, Arias is collaborating within the North Mesa Stables, which already provides wool to Lemonade Living for fiber arts and allows it to use the stables as a guest.
Additionally, because the Lujan cabin is on the state registry for historic and cultural properties, Arias said she is communicating with the County’s Historic Preservation Board and collaborating with the Los Alamos Historical Society.
“We want to preserve first and then we want to restore,” she said.
She added that Los Alamos Historical Society Executive Director Liz Martineau has been instrumental in that effort.
“She is just such a tremendous supporter; I am so thankful for her,” Arias said.
The hope is in the future to partner with Los Alamos Middle School, Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico State University, Los Alamos County Extension Office, Scouts, 4-H and other organizations, she said. Current and past service provider partnerships include All Individuals First, The Gifted Horse, Los Alamos Makers, Family Strengths Network, Los Alamos High School, Las Cumbres Community Services, Global Hydranencephaly Foundation, JJAB and The Family YMCA.
“There are a lot of partnership opportunities in that space and that is exciting,” Arias said.
Collaboration is important, she added.
“I believe in community over competition and to have a close-knit community we need to help each other in our shared goals … the bottom line, I think it is important as a community that we support one another,” Arias said.
The Lujan cabin, she explained, is one of three remaining homestead cabins that are still standing on this side of the Omega Bridge. The other two are the Romero Cabin located next door to the Los Alamos History Museum and the Grant Cabin, which is in the North Mesa Stables.
Shelly Cross is the owner of the cabin and she contacted Arias about purchasing the cabin for Lemonade Living.
To help with the purchase of the Lujan cabin, a gofundme campaign has been established. People interested in donating can visit https://gf.me/v/c/86f/lemonade-living-homestead-farm-and-ranch-school.
Additionally, there is a donate button on Lemonade Living’s website, https://www.lemonadeliving.org, and patrons at Rose Chocolatier can use the QR code available at the coffee and chocolate shop to contribute. Donations also can be mailed to Lemonade Living at 150 Central Park Square, Los Alamos, NM 87544 or to Rose Chocolatier at 149 Central Park Square, Los Alamos, NM 87544.
Arias said the goal is to raise $18,000.
In purchasing the cabin Arias said she sees it as tying the present to Los Alamos’ past, which featured not only homesteading but the Ranch School that taught young people about the outdoors.
“I love the idea of connecting what we’re doing in the present with history and keeping that history alive,” she said.