Palomas Senior Citizens Concentrate on Identifying, Managing Emotions

Jacqueline García Castillo involved participants in a workshop aimed to help isolated senior citizens identify and manage emotions.

In July, with COVID cases decreasing in Palomas, the Health Promoters planned a special workshop for 15 senior citizens in Palomas that they have identified as

Melissa Reyes (L) and Jaqueline García Castillo

isolated. This was the first group meeting that they were able to conduct in this year 2021. Throughout the past year of COVID restrictions, life was particularly difficult for these isolated seniors. To complicate their lives further, many of them have physical limitations, too. Throughout this period of time, the Promoters were able to continue to deliver a hot meal to each senior on each week day. But, they could not hold group meetings due to fears of spreading the COVID virus.

Jaqueline García Castillo came from Casas Grandes, Chihuahua to present a workshop for the group on managing their emotions. The goal was to help these isolated seniors identify and differentiate pleasant and unpleasant emotions and understand how to live with them. Jacqueline’s degrees equipped her very well for the presentation. A practicing psychologist, she has a Masters degree in Psychomotor Skills and Bachelors degree in Psychology.

Positive Response

The seniors responded enthusiastically to the content they learned as well as to Jaqueline’s kind and approachable demeanor. They asked for another session that would help them to manage their loneliness and to feel more self-sufficient. We’ve also invited Jacqueline to return this month for 20 minute individual sessions with these designated seniors.

The Health Promoters are looking for a few people to volunteer to participate in a new Adopt-a-Senior program. If you might be interested, contact Melissa Reyes, Border Partners General Manager, for more details. Email her to inquire.

COVID-19 Vaccine slowly protects Palomas residents; Promotoras give assistance

Lines of people awaiting their COVID-19 vaccinations are long. This one stretches so far that you can’t see the people at the front of the line.

The COVID vaccine is slowly making its way to people in Palomas. It is required for adults to receive the vaccine. Mexican government workers have been slowly vaccinating people by age groups starting with those over 60 in May. In June, there was a vaccination event for Palomas residents 40-50 years old.

One of the promotoras hands a younger adult a breakfast burrito. Nutrition softens the wait for the COVID-19 vaccination.

workers began vaccinating Palomas residents 40-50 years old. This group received their first vaccination on June 5. Typically the second vaccination round occurs 28 days later.

Health officials and Palomas residents receive assistance from Border Partners’ Promotoras for these public vaccination efforts. The line awaiting the vaccine is long for many Palomas residents. The desert is hot. Promotoras delivered water and burritos to people presenting for vaccinations. These edible, portable items were welcome. Due to the promotoras‘ good planning, the food and drink was easy for the vaccine candidates to consume as they waited in the summer heat for their turn.

We’re pleased to continue to partner with health officials to combat the pandemic. This effort matches our mission perfectly. And, it’s potentially a life-saving effort for a community that has very limited health care options.

In Memory of Kara Naber who died June 6, 2021

by Helena Day Myers. Border Partners Co-founder

Border Partners–along with Kara’s family and many friends–mourn her passing. We will miss her steadfast love for the Mexican people and their culture. Kara was involved with Border Partners’ activities almost from the beginning in a number of important ways.

Kara had a nose for a bargain. She often contributed items she found while shopping. Palomas Oilcloth Designs also benefited from Kara’s knowledge as a seamstress. One of Kara’s first donations was her industrial sewing machine. I remember the time she brought it to my home in Columbus to instruct some of the women how to use it before it went to Palomas. Her encouragement–plus many more machines–has created a thriving business for several Palomas women who make oilcloth bags, aprons and table cloths which sell on Etsy.

Kara was Border Partners’ first paid employee in the U.S. She worked in 2017-2018 to assist with the growing number of tasks facing Polly and Peter Edmunds who served as volunteer managers at that time. Her writing skills and fluency in Spanish were a tremendous asset to this developing non profit organization.

Kara was also a journalist. As an activist, she wrote about environmental struggles in Southern New Mexico, especially Gila River and Florida Mountains. Her writing about Border Partners is still living on the Internet.

I met Kara when she was working as an archaeology guide for the Forest Service at Mesa Verde and Gila Cliff Dwellings. She and her husband Mark Andrews lived in Columbus, NM at that time. As long time sailors in Virginia they lived in a dwelling that reminded me of a sailing vessel. Always interested in other cultures, Kara dreamed of one day living in Oaxaca, Mexico. Several years ago, she and Mark moved there. Then, her stay was cut short by illness this spring.

Following are a few memories from friends in Columbus.

I can’t think of another person I knew who went more determined through life than Kara. She never stopped learning. I will truly miss her.”

“Kara was one of the most proactive people in our area, ranging from political and environmental activism to humanitarian aid. She was creative, tireless and generous. When I met Kara almost 20 years ago, she was wearing her archeologist’s hat and that is the memory I remember her by”.

This photo of Kara, posted on Facebook by a family member, represents that image we, her friends, remember.

Kara Naber, RIP
Died June 6, 2021

Kara’s obituary is available online, offering you the opportunity to leave a message. An online slideshow of photos from Kara’s lifetime can be found HERE. Do visit the Deming Headlight’s coverage of Kara’s life and career.

Great news from GiveGrandly 2021

Hip! Hip! Hooray and BIG THANKS to the 84 people who gave to Border Partners during the Give Grandly fundraiser! This is a record number for us for this event and we are so grateful for each donation!

We give special thanks to:
** Scott Davies. He matched all the donations;
** the Grant County Community Foundation. They gave us another $500 match and did enormous work making the fundraiser run smoothly; and to
** The entire crew of Give Grandly Coalition volunteers from 58 different nonprofits for organizing the event – especially to Andrea Warner, the Chair.

Most of all, we want to thank our donors who gave a total of $26,000 this year – also a record! This comes at a time when there are critical needs in Palomas. There are still many cases of COVID and jobs are scarce so more families even than usual are struggling to make ends meet. They are grateful for your help.

Lastly, we want to welcome and offer special thanks to the folks who gave to Border Partners for the first time – 42 of you joined our group of supporters! Thank you for trusting Border Partners with your money. We’ll keep posting updates on activities that your generosity fuels!

Recent progress in Palomas

Border Partners’ activity continues in Palomas despite the pandemic. Our emphasis and priorities adapt to meet the critical needs that the pandemic causes.

COVID IN PALOMAS

Restrictions are still in place in Palomas, due to COVID-19. Major outbreaks of the disease occurred here in the last few months. The pandemic affected the community, and new regulations restricted daily activities as a result. Currently, businesses can be open at 50% capacity. However, our free Zumba classes for the community will only be held outside, at least through the month of June. This is because the social distancing requirement has increased  up to 8 feet. There are additional sanitation requirements in place now, as well.

EMERGENCY FOOD DISTRIBUTIONS

In May 2021 100 food baskets supported 295 people in need of basic nutrition.

Border Partners distributed 100 food baskets in May. This food benefited 295 people in the community. Now, our grant from the Paso del Norte Community Foundation that funded these distributions is entirely used. Going forward, we’ll need to rely on contributions from our donors to enable us to continue future food basket distributions.

GARDENS AND FOOD PRODUCTION

 

Hoop house at the Education Center is renovated with improved irrigation equipment. This will make it more productive. It will effectively feed more people in the same amount of space.

We’ve installed new hoses and water keys in gardens that are located at the Education Center. In addition. Juanita, our garden coordinator, is overseeing the rehabilitation and reconstruction of existing gardens.  Garden production is flourishing as the photos indicate for themselves. Excellent food production in this desert environment can only happen with enriched soil and the constant monitoring of moisture to the crops. Quality and intense behind-the-scenes work creates this bounty.

NUTRITION FOR ELDERLY

Melissa Reyes, our General Manager,  conducted a nutrition workshop for the Promotoras. They learned how to incorporate new foods to their menu options for the seniors’ meals on wheels. These food choices will be healthy and nutritious as well as easy to prepare.

DONATIONS SUPPORT OUR WORK

Diaz Farms again contributed a major donation to our operations that augment food and nutrition in Palomas. In March and April 2021, they donated about 2500 pounds of beans from their business. Our staff divided this bulk donation into individual four pound bags and distributed them to families in need. That contribution sustained us through three food basket distributions. Last week Diaz Farms donated:

  • two 100 pound sacks of rice,
  • cans of pure honey,
  • canned salsa,
  • spices and
  • tamal leaf sacks.

In addition, they’ve donated all the food they have in their store. This generous outpouring is because they’re discontinuing that retail operation. We’re scheduling a weekly trip to the US-based operation to load this supply until we’ve received it all. We’re so grateful for this generous donation, especially now that our funding for food baskets has become quite limited.

Other local private donors, including the Chayrez Family, contributed 30 chickens and 3 dozen eggs for the promotoras‘ meals for home-bound seniors program, a plentiful supply of hand soap and other food items. 

Interview with Melissa Reyes: What’s Border Partners doing these days?

Melissa Reyes, Border Partners’ General Manager

How has the pandemic affected Border Partners? Has it had any positive impact on the organization? How has the agency interacted differently since the arrival of COVID? 

A recent professional audio interview with Melissa  Reyes, Border Partners’ General Manager, gives updated info on how things are different in the Mexico border town of Palomas. It lets you know how you can make a difference to support people who don’t have much support at all, whether you live near or far away.

Whether you’re a Border Partners supporter or simply want to learn more about our work, take 14 minutes to listen and learn.

Interview: Melissa Reyes

CLICK HERE to hear the interview with Melissa Reyes.

Adapting to Change and Moving Forward

Sadly last month, we learned that Border Partners will no longer be able to use the old building that we renovated to serve as our Sports Center for the last five years. It had soccer, basketball and volleyball courts and a children’s playground.

Not one to be discouraged for too long, Peter Edmunds, began to think of ways to enhance the existing sports facilities in Palomas. Since 2015, when the Sports Center opened, various facilities have been added and/or improved. Peter went on a drive through town to visit some of these and think about how Border Partners could enhance them. Here are some of his ideas.

There is a new shade/shelter at Ford Elementary School. To use this sports/play area outside school hours we would have to build fences and gates to isolate the school buildings like we did at the Ramon Espinoza Elementary School. This is a desirable site to improve because it would be the only play/sports facility on the far west side of Palomas. The school in the past has expressed interest in having us build a stage and a soccer field on their property.

This is the high school’s brand new soccer court. It only lacks goals that may be stored elsewhere. It could use some spectator seating. Maybe we could use this when school players are not there?

This is the first swing set we built in Palomas in 2009 at the Pancho Villa Park. It looks tired now and should be replaced. It was the first play equipment in a park in Palomas. It gets used so much that the chains wear through and break. This swing set inspired the town government to build many other play structures at this park.

gym

The gymnasium at the Ramon Espinoza Elementary has been open after school hours for the past four years, with a BP staff person to supervise. There are several additions that would make this a better facility. A climbing wall would be fun! Some lower basketball hoops would please the younger crowd and a large fan or two would help everyone in the heat of the summer.

Three other town parks have some equipment but all could use additions like picnic tables, little kids play areas and upkeep. The Kinders could use better play equipment.

These are just ideas and will require input from town and school officials. Over the years, we have built good relationships in town. Our staff will have input too. Which investments would be most beneficial to the people we try to help? Our Board of Directors will weigh in too. And we will need to do some fundraising. But you just may be hearing more about one or more of these ideas in the future.

Investing for the Future: Planting Fruit Trees, Spring 2021

This last week, Border Partners’ distributed 94 peach, apple and pomegranate trees to families.  The annual event celebrates Earth Day 2021, and it continues an annual tradition of planting fruit trees in Palomas, These trees will provide healthy fruit and shade to the families for decades to come. 

Along with their tree, each family received instructions on proper planting and tree care. They also received a bag of compost to promote tree growth.

Finally! Starting to open up again

Bike March 2021

Melissa Reyes, Border Partners General Manager looks content as the bikers pass by through the streets of Palomas at the March 2021 Community Bike Event.

Palomas residents receive COVID-19 vaccination, assisted by Border Partners Promotoras.

March was a really busy month for Border Partners. But all the action is positive, and things are starting to slowly open up. This is exciting. Of course we are still paying attention to safety for all with face masks and social distancing at all our activities.

Vaccinations Begin in Palomas

On Tuesday, March 23, the first vaccination for COVID-19 for seniors over the age 60 took place in Palomas. The Promotoras, in cooperation with the Centro Salud Clinic organized the procedures for the day and helped with registration. The lines were incredibly long and many of the seniors had not had food in a few hours. Border Partners fed about 100 people that day!  We are already making plans for the next event, which will take place in three weeks. This will be the second round of shots for this same group.

Spring Bicycle Event 

March 2021 ended with a community bicycle event in Palomas on March 25. The Border Partners’ organizers were pleased with the turnout, as the number of participants surpassed their expectations. Twenty-six children biker participants enjoyed riding with several adults and our staff. In addition, we were supported by 22 community volunteers who helped us distribute supplies, stop traffic and make sure everyone was safe throughout the day.

It takes a lot of preparation to organize a community bike event.

In light of the pandemic we used the event as an opportunity to reinforce community health education related to COVID-19. Through the course of the afternoon’s activities, we gave away face masks, mini (handsized) hand sanitizers, and COVID-19 brochures. We tried hard to enforce social distancing.

To support road safety, all adults wore safety vests and carried stop signs. Community police officers accompanied and led the bikers. The Palomas Fire Fighters also assisted with safety and leadership.

To add to the fun, raffle tickets determined winners of six gifts for participants. There were three gift baskets for boys and three gift baskets for girls.

At the end of the event, we asked the children if they would like another event like this. Their answer was a resounding “yes.” They were so excited to hear that we’re ready to conduct another bike day event this summer.

The older guys had their own event, led by Palomas officials. Safety was paramount as organizers prepared for the Bicycle Event.

Young energy under a luminous desert sunny sky fueled bikes through the town on as March concluded in Palomas.

Service Activities Mark a COVID Anniversary

It’s been one year since the COVID-19 pandemic began. In Palomas, as in many other places, we are still responding to the extraordinary needs created by this lethal virus.  As in most other parts of the world, masks and social distancing have become part of our normal routine.  We are very grateful for support from many partners as we continue to help with these needs.

Great Supporters

Thanks to a generous grant from the Paso del Norte Community Foundation, we have additional money now to provide more food baskets to Palomas. In addition, we can serve three other smaller towns in the area twice each month through June. Diaz Farms, in Deming, NM, has donated 4,000 pounds of beans to the effort. Southern Baptist Church in El Paso, TX has contributed food, as well. 

Colonia Victoria Distribution

Food distributions are possible with the support of those who help us provide for needy families.

Early in this month of March, we distributed food baskets to 50 families in Colonia Victoria along with 100 facemasks, clothing, shoes, jackets and warm clothing.  

International Women’s Day

In honor of International Women’s Day, on March 8, the Border Partners’ promotoras honored 25 senior women from the community. They selected women who help and inspire them to receive a special gift basket.  Melissa Reyes, our General  Manager says: “It was a great treat, and they were all so thankful.”

CHANCES Program Training for Promotoras

On March 2nd and 4th, Mary Mackey (Health Educator/City of Deming Administrative Secretary) presented a training on the CHANCES program for the promotoras. As a result, they are now prepared to offer workshops for women in Palomas about the dangers of using drugs during pregnancy.

Promotoras training session will equip them to help other women.