The Making of a Border Partner

Sherry Reynolds (left) digs into the compost production. She “digs” Border Partners.

by Sherry Reynolds, Border Partners Board Member

I’m a wanderer. I wandered the southwest for years after my retirement, volunteering at federal and state recreation lands and a few NGOs. There was too much to see and to experience ever to repeat a volunteer gig. And I never did.

Until Border Partners.

The idea of having nothing to do was an anathema to me. So, when a government-shutdown made my upcoming assignment at a National Wildlife Refuge iffy, a friend told me about Border Partners.
Location: Great; I already was in southern NM.
Work: Many and varied projects; surely there’d be something I could do.
People: Friends of my friend, so probably ok.
And, heck, I needed to fill a couple of months, not make a lifetime commitment.

That was going-on 4 years ago, and I keep repeating and repeating and repeating the gig! (Were it not for my summer travels, I might have to stop characterizing myself as a wanderer.)

So, what could propel an inveterate wanderer off the road? To make a long-term commitment to a single organization? Border Partners: it could and it did—because it’s different:

  • No lip-service: when they say they want the projects to be sustainable, when they say border residents are capable of improving their own communities, they mean it and work to make it so.
  • No patriarchy: the word empowerment is front and center in their overarching goal to empower residents of border communities.
  • No complacency: lots of pride in the work that is done, but no smugness, no resting on laurels.

Today I am as excited about what Border Partners is doing as I was when I first met the members of their community on both sides of the border and learned of their myriad projects. My secret passion is the greenhouses where, in an area that has been called a “vegetable desert,” vegetables are grown in community-, school- and home-greenhouses; used in hot meals prepared for isolated seniors, used by schools for making lunches, and used in homes to provide healthful meals for families. It’s classic Border Partners: working on long-term and sustainable ways to improve eating habits and encouraging the consumption of fruits and vegetables, and changing an area that was a “vegetable desert” into an area of many vegetable gardeners and cooks.

While greenhouses are my secret passion, they link to and complement other Border Partner projects. The vegetables improve nutrition and when coupled with Border Partners programs to augment the area’s recreation facilities and exercise classes, overall health improvements result. Link again to mental health workshops and to classes for expectant and new mothers. And link yet again to blood pressure and glucose checks. The linkages go on and on as is necessary to improve overall general health and quality of life in the borderland.

Border Partners does so much, and has no shortage of ideas to do so much more. But funding can be a challenge. That is why, beyond the commitment of volunteer time, I have made Border Partners the primary recipient of my charitable donations.

Given all that Border Partners does, how could I not become a Border Partner?