By Mary McPhail Gray
NVW Board Chair
An African proverb from the Yoruba and Igbo regions of Nigeria states, “It takes a village to raise a child.” The belief is that a community of caring relationships provides youth with strength of character and pride about their own worthiness. They feel loved and acknowledged.
It is often said that Taos is a community of relationships—connecting with others is an important quality of life here. At Nonviolence Works we have seen this quality in action, particularly this summer with gifts of resources in a variety of ways—especially for our Familia y Mundo summer camp for elementary aged youth and the Yermos y Montaños summer camp for middle school students. Resources have come in a rich variety of forms.
Both Cid’s and Super Save hosted food sales for NVW to obtain public support. Cid’s was a bake sale on June 18, and Super Save was a sale of tamales made by the YyM students on June 16 to fund their trip to Meow Wolf. Cid’s provides ongoing support with their token can for all customers to donate to NVW.
In support of the tamales sale, El Monte Sagrado Chef Christina Martinez and Chai Sipaseuth donated chilies and meat and provided kitchen space for steaming the final products. The youth made enough money to fund their trip to Meow Wolf and to donate to Taos Valley Farms.
Another special gift to our students is the welcoming by Don Peters, director of Not Forgotten Outreach, where youth have learned to be of service by helping care for the animals on site and weeding the gardens. NVW staff comment that youth often feel hesitant to take action in the community, and becoming a volunteer is a wonderful way to give back and to understand that they themselves can be a resource which changes the community for the good. This reinforces an important therapeutic goal—recognize your own strengths.
The volunteer opportunity is reinforced by Taos Valley Farms where every Tuesday morning the YyM youth help care for chickens, pigs and goats; plant vegetables; weed the gardens; and learn about healthy nutrition. A recent highlight was bottle feeding some of the baby goats and learning to milk the mothers. Joni and Roy Cunningham own the farms and encourage the youth to help make their own lunches by picking vegetables and learning to make smoothies and salads. Respect for the environment and learning about healthy eating are important goals of these activities. Micah at Farm House Cafe contributes food materials to complete the lunches.
Carol and Don Adams, owners of High Altitude Health and Fitness provide their outdoor pool for two swimming sessions by both the FyM youth and the YyM students each week. The youth are honing their swimming skills and enjoy seeing friends from the community at these outings.
All of these opportunities have enabled youth to meet caring adults who are demonstrating community-minded businesses and showing their values of caring for others. Some youth may see possibilities for their own future jobs and the power of positive relationships.
Nonviolence Works wishes to thank all of these individuals and their organizations that are making such a positive difference in the lives or our youth. Our programs are enriched by these gifts from the village—and our goals for the youth are reinforced.
Nonviolence Works has the largest behavioral health staff of counselors and social workers in northern New Mexico. We can be reached at 575-758-4297 or www.nonviolenceworks.us
Mary McPhail Gray is the board chair of NVW and can be reached at 575-779-3126 or firstname.lastname@example.org