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.

 

Helping Colonia Modelo with Basic Supplies

A long line of people in need gladly waited to receive basic supplies in Colonia Modelo this week.

 Border Partners staff provided assistance in Colonia Modelo on Monday this week. A distribution of basic food supplies in 50 food baskets helped the community; we were happy to carry out that three hour operation. In addition to food, we also provided warm clothing, shoes and blankets that we’d received as donations. 

Colonia Modelo’s elementary school director, Profesor Manuel, identified families in need. With his help, each family received a voucher to present at the event.

Seven Border Partners staff members gave good reviews to the event organization and its execution. The program helped us to acquire some basic information from each of the families. In this way, we met some new recipients in the community who will benefit from future food basket events. Other Border Partners staffers remained in Palomas to continue regular programming.

Paso del Norte Community Foundation, gave us a $15,000 grant for food baskets. That money funded this distribution. These activities will run from January to July as a pandemic relief activity. 
 
Colonia Modelo lies 20 minutes from Palomas, which is directly on the US-Mexico border. Economic opportunity is dimmer in Colonia Modelo than in Palomas, which has municipality status. Basic resources like food, clean water and–more recently–electricity are not reliably present in Colonia Modelo. Many area families work in the agriculture sector; so, their wages are adequate to supply only the most basic needs. 

Clothing that was donated was distributed for those in need.

At Your Service! Border Partners staff executed the distribution operations and thought it went very well.

Supplies were well organized to speed the operation. Keeping people moving quickly through the process is important in these days as we deal with the pandemic.

Border Partners’ Annual Report 2020

Border Partners is celebrating twelve years working with the people of Palomas, Chihuahua, Mexico. By working together with many generous supporters in the United States, lives there have improved considerably since 2008. But this year was unusual due to the pandemic. In this Report 2020, we outline our response: HEAL 7 Annual Report 2020 Final (PDF)

Border Partners’ GOAL

Through the years, we haven’t wavered: We respond to the needs of the people in Palomas. When we share the resources they need to accomplish their goals, they can improve their own community. So we always:

  • Support projects that empower Mexican people to learn new skills, take responsibility and assume leadership.
  • Remember that “teaching a person to fish is better than giving them a fish.”
  • Prepare for the day when Mexicans will take over all aspects of this work.

Our ACHIEVEMENTS

We’re very proud that we’ve made significant progress toward these commitments.
● A strong team of leaders in Palomas now take major responsibility for planning and executing projects.
● Many local people are now convinced that it’s possible to improve life in their community. (This wasn’t true when we started.)
● Thousands of adults and children in Palomas participate in Border Partners’ activities that promote health throughout the year.

What was new in 2020?

The major activity of all staff this year was to respond to the critical need seniors and families have for food during the pandemic when work is so scarce.
Since March, 2020, our health promotoras have prepared and delivered more than 4011 healthy, hot meals to twenty isolated seniors every weekday.
They have also prepared and distributed 491 food baskets to needy families in Palomas and the surrounding towns.

Other changes in 2020

We welcomed a new General Manager – Melissa Reyes.
The staff refurbished a new, more centrally located Border Partners Center. Finally, we operate from a building that is big enough to provide office and classroom space for our entire staff.
The Education/Computer Center will remain near the town library.

Because of virus restrictions, we were not able to continue all our usual activities. However, our creative team in Palomas continued the successful programs below, despite the virus, making necessary modifications to make sure everyone was safe.

  • Free health screenings. The promotoras provided 1,600 of these vital blood pressure and glucose checks at their office or out in the community between January and October.
  • Supporting home gardeners including 30 who have greenhouses and 60 with raised bed gardens.
  • Raising healthy food for the community in two large greenhouses.
  • Offering free zumba exercise classes. Despite the fact that restrictions kept them from having classes from April-September, the promotoras led 200 one-hour, outdoor, distanced classes in 2020.

This progress has been possible because Border Partners has a strong team of donors, foundations, volunteers, board members. We rely primarily and most importantly on the empowered citizens of Palomas working together to transform their community.

Updates from Palomas, January 2021 edition

People in need received food baskets in January. We distributed 80 baskets.

Brrrr! Believe it or not, it has been really cold here on the southern border. Most nights in January the low temperatures dipped into the teens. Houses in Palomas do not have adequate insulation or heating for such cold temperatures. At this time of year, our health promoters distribute blankets and warm clothing to those in need.

With his hot meal, this senior received a beautiful gray, hand-knit scarf.

This month, they are doing a special drive to get warm clothing to the seniors who are in the meals on wheels program. When the promoters deliver food, they also drop off donated mittens, gloves, sweaters and now handknit scarves, too.

These scarves arrived from an anonymous donor as a wonderful surprise! And, they arrived just at the right time. We’re so grateful. Each beautiful, warm scarf represents an investment of personal time and the sharing of a honed craft. The seniors appreciate them.

Keeping Seniors Warm in January

Wearing a coat indoors while sitting under a blanket is normal in Palomas in the winter. Most buildings don’t have a furnace. This senior now has warm shoes which will really help him retain body heat.

We received another exceptional donation this month as well. Gale Margerum who had an upholstery shop in Silver City, sadly, died last month. Her sister, Diana Ingalls Lebya, called to ask if Border Partners could use her sewing machines and extra fabric and supplies. We filled a truck and trailer, and that equipment and material will go to happy sewers in Palomas, including members of Palomas OIlcloth Designs, in the next week.

In conjunction with this, Coyote Phoenix gave $1,000 in Gale’s memory. We’re grateful for this memorial and will use it carefully.

Promotora Team Grows

Also in January, a new promotora, Maria Sustaita, joined our current group of three health promoters. Maria is a town paramedic who volunteers her time for the ambulance. Maria is very welcome on our health promoter team, and her skills will be used well.

Finally, Border Partners assembled and distributed a total of 80 food baskets to families in Palomas during the month of January. Nourishment is a cornerstone to health and vitality.

It was a busy month on many fronts.


CORRECTION. Edited February 13, 2021: Names of donor Diana Ingalls Lebya and her sister Gale Margerum were corrected. We regret our error in publishing their names incorrectly.

Water Irrigation Systems Enhance Greenhouse Production

greenhouse irrigation system

New irrigation system in the greenhouse automatically waters the garden beds. Note the gray pipe encircling the greenhouse from above the beds.

A new water irrigation system is up-and-running now in our largest Border Partners greenhouse. For the first installation, we chose the greenhouse located on the site of the Education Center. Our garden program coordinator Juanita first researched the proposed set up. After doing a cost analysis, Border Partners committed to the project.

Already, the installed irrigation system has accelerated crop growth on the most recent plantings. All the growth you can see in these January photos are new plants. In December, we harvested and distributed the last round of crops. That was a component of the Food Basket distribution event. There’s significant new growth this month. Automated watering makes that happen. 

Greenhouse Irrigation as Investment 

Another advantage of this system is its connection to the rainwater collection tank on the site. This collection tank allows us to capture untreated rain water. The water is unmetered by the local municipal system. Thus, at no cost to us, we’re able to water the crops when collected rainwater is available.

We are pleased that we’re finding new ways to be more efficient with our crops, especially now during the pandemic. The garden program is a great resource for healthy, fresh green vegetables. This irrigation upgrade was well worth its portion of the $400 total project expense. Donations from supporters will fund this improvement.

We’ll continue to construct water irrigation systems in our remaining community greenhouses. In the arid desert environment, water is life. Water, coupled with fertile soil, is pivotal for the production of healthy fresh food. We’re pleased and proud of our new method to boost crop production.

this 

Hear the sound of running water as the new irrigation system drips from the elevated pipe onto the thirsty garden beds below.

Great effort to celebrate Christmas 2020 in Palomas!

by Melissa Reyes, General Manager

Images from Christmas 2020 distribution event in Palomas, produced by Border Partners.

Border Partners started brainstorming ideas for Christmas 2020, to help the Palomas community, especially during this holiday time of the year. We realized that we needed to give Palomas the opportunity to join us. In that way we could all work together. The Promotoras wrote a personalized email to local businesses. In it, we presented our goals and plans for families in extreme need, especially during the holidays.

The amount of help that we collected from the local businesses, food baskets from the community, clothing, jackets, toys and volunteer service, really left us filled with joy and speechless. Words cannot express how much gratitude we feel for the local people that stepped up, during this time of crisis. People from the community, dropped off pre-made food baskets, prior to the event. These groups donated generous amount of money, food and essential clothing:

    • “La Frontera”
    • La Ferretería
    • “El Tornillo”
    • Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Silver City
    • Memos Supermarket
    • Súper Vazquez
    • Mexican Sushi Restaurant
    • El Ballezano (clothing store)
    • El Arroyito

We purchased 150 food baskets at Super Vazquez. They’ve partnered with us in past projects allowing us to purchase local food at a discounted price. We also were able to purchase small goody bags for each child (400) and gave out donated clothes, shampoo, soap, face masks (350), blankets, sweaters/jackets and shoes. We gave out vegetables from our green houses to promote healthy living.

Every family that registered received a ticket for a raffle entry. We gave raffile gifts to 15 families. This raffle also included two tickets for a $50 voucher to be spent in Super Vazquez grocery store. It also included: Pots and Pans set, knife set, space heater, pillows and dinnerware set.

This was a 4 day long event. We’re still dealing with COVID restrictions and regulations, but we really wanted each family that came in through our door to feel special and welcomed. Each family had 10 minutes to meet with us, pick what they needed, and leave with a food basket.

Before the event started we knew that word of mouth plays a major role in Palomas. However, we didn’t want to turn anyone away. And, I’m glad to say that we didn’t have to! We were able to give anyone else that came to the door a food basket! Instead of giving away just 150, we gave out 185. In all, 661 benefited from this effort. This for sure was a small milestone for Border Partners. Our food multiplied! And, thanks to the community residents that had dropped off food, we were able to help anyone that asked and was referred to the event.

All the energy, hard work and effort that was went into this event was rewarded. Thanks to all our donors that made it possible and also to the staff who arrived early and left late to ensure each family had a nice experience!

We are so very grateful!

In this difficult time for so many, we’re still finding a multitude of reasons to give thanks. We’ve seen immense goodness in people. We’re especially grateful to:

  • all our supporters for their amazing response to our fall fundraising drive;
  • the Paso del Norte Foundation for extra funding to respond to the need for supplementary food in Palomas;
  • the Unitarian Universalist Church in Silver City for donations to the food drive;
  • our Mexican staff who have stepped up and changed their duties with energy and grace;
  • Scott Davies, a faithful supporter, for matching all the donations to the Fall Appeal;
  • Victor and Yolanda Hesch, Barbara Lemmon, Elizabeth Burr and Barbara Gabioud who give every single month, year after year, to support whatever Border Partners is doing;
  • and to businesses and local residents in Palomas who have opened their hearts to share with families in their community through our Christmas Appeal.

During November, our staff distributed 120 food baskets to people in Palomas and the surrounding communities. They’re getting ready for an even larger distribution in December. There have been cold nights here in the desert lately. So, along with food, they are giving donated warm coats, sweaters and blankets to those in need.

One supporter’s kind words:

I am so amazed at Border Partners’ ability to change from your normal work in Palomas so that you can respond to different needs during this pandemic.”