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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Extension Association of NM members participate in community service

LOS LUNAS ? Sometimes a friendly word of encouragement is the moment when a person?s life will change.

Three women looking at a scarf with other items in front of them.
Carolyn Chance, Sunshine Mid-Valley Extension Association of New Mexico club president, Laura Bittner, NMSU Valencia County Extension home economist, and Cindy Robinson, Valencia County EANM council president, look at a scarf that was given to residents of the Women?s Recovery Academy drug and alcohol addiction program as a service project for the Cooperative Extension Service women's club service project. Gift bags with toiletry items were presented to the 50 residents during a holiday candy-making activity. (NMSU photo by Jane Moorman)

That encouragement is given in the form of action by members of the Sunshine ? Mid-Valley Extension Association of New Mexico club members when they interact with the residents of the Women?s Recovery Academy in Albuquerque?s South Valley during a variety of programs and events.

Recently, the club members delivered gift bags filled with toiletry items and a hand-made scarf and necklace to each of the 50 women currently at the Recovery Academy during a holiday candy-making activity.

?The Women?s Recovery Academy is one of the club?s service projects,? said Carolyn Chance, president of the Valencia County club. ?I think we?ve been put on this earth to serve. I feel both the club members and the women at the academy have gained from this interaction.?

Members donate money to support the special activities that New Mexico State University?s Valencia County Cooperative Extension Service does at the academy, such as making candy and gift cards. During the activities, the members have an opportunity to visit with the women, who are at the academy to recover from drug and alcohol addictions.

?Valencia County Extension also provides personal growth classes at the academy, including parenting and job-seeking skills and nutritional education,? said Laura Bittner, Valencia County Extension home economist. ?The help the EANM women provide helps round out our programs at the academy.?

Providing service to others is personally rewarding for the club members.

?It gives me a wonderful feeling when I?m done visiting with the ladies and helping to teach them something new,? said Cindy Robinson, council president of the Valencia County EANM. ?This is one of my very favorite community service projects to participate in.?

A comment from one of the women really touched Chance and impressed on her the difficult path the women are facing to change their lives. ?She said she had been in prison most of her life, and this time when she gets out, she wants to do something different. She said she had finally learned that associating with the same group of people did not help her stay clean.?

The Sunshine ? Mid-Valley EANM members provide 7,000 to 8,000 hours of community service each year as a club and as individuals. Other projects include providing gloves and hats for chemotherapy patients, donating to the local food pantry, providing books to CASA?s literacy program, and giving funds to help victims of domestic violence.

The club is not just about service to the community, it provides education in a social setting.

For nearly 70 years, women in New Mexico have been serving their community through the Cooperative Extension Service women?s club. During that time, the organization?s name has changed several times, but the intent of the club has stayed the same ? helping women improve their lives and the world around them.

The club began at the Women?s Demonstration Club, where women would gather to learn new methods of homemaking, including food preservation by canning and drying the fresh produce their family had grown in home gardens.

Early clubs worked to develop school lunch programs in the communities? public schools and other civic projects, as well as educational programs, which included home nursing, sewing, budgeting, cooking and nutrition, home gardening, and home decoration.

In October, Valencia County hosted the EANM state conference, where 67 women represented the 300 statewide members in 13 counties, including Bernalillo, San Juan, Los Alamos, Santa Fe, Valencia, Colfax, San Miguel, Quay, Union, Grant, Lea, Otero, Lincoln and Roosevelt.

The women participated in state policy and rules meetings, educational sessions and activities. They also celebrated their combined 13,000 hours of service to communities across New Mexico.