Piñon awards, plus ‘Bigs’ and ‘Littles’

SANTA FE, NM – So many nonprofits, so few awards! It seems like Santa Fe must have more charities per capita than anywhere. Hundreds! If I worked for a charity in Santa Fe, I would hope to win the coveted Piñon Award.

The Santa Fe Community Foundation hands its prestigious Piñon Awards to only four organizations and one individual philanthropist each year.

Rick Schneiders was CEO and chairman of the food supplying giant Sysco for 27 years, so he knows how to move trucks of food around. He and his wife Elizabeth received the Philanthropic Leadership Award. They conceived of, coordinated and oversee the healthy food mobile grocery initiative that delivers fresh farm-grown foods to the pueblos and economically distressed areas of northern New Mexico.

The Quiet Inspiration Award went to the Cancer Foundation for New Mexico, which quietly and respectfully works to provide care and support to all types of people with cancer. Those who live a great distance from their treatment may have insurance for the care, but lack the resources for travel expenses if they have to stay over for weeks or months of treatment. So CFFNM provides the funding to help with transportation, lodging and groceries while they are away from home.

Big Brothers Big Sisters won The Tried and True Award, having served the region since 1979. Currently, it serves 1,100 youth in the area, providing strong, steady one-on-one adult interaction for boys and girls who are at a high risk for joining gangs, using drugs, dropping out of school and other risky behaviors.

Thank goodness there are generous folks out there who will give their time to helping other people’s children grow up right.

The Courageous Innovation Award honors an organization that uses a bold approach to solving a persistent problem in the community. The Santa Fe Watershed Association is dedicated to saving and enhancing the Santa Fe River through planting native vegetation, the Adopt-A-River project, trash collection, and a number of programs for keeping the river clean and educating the community about it.

The Visionary Award, given to an organization that can anticipate and then successfully meet the needs of the future, was earned by Moving Arts Española, Inc.

A very energetic staff believes that lots of movement and focused creative expression, along with a healthy diet, will be highly beneficial to teens in the Española Valley and surrounding pueblos – areas where substance abuse, gang activity, high dropout rates and obesity are endemic.

MAE has a proven track record now of countering these problems through its lively programs of various dances, music, gymnastics, flamenco, circus arts, visual arts and nutrition education.

About 300 admiring friends filled the big ballroom at the La Fonda for dinner and the heartwarming awards ceremony as so many patrons of these organizations recognized the dedicated volunteers who received the awards.

Big Brothers Big Sisters

It’s not the kid’s fault that he or she does not have “a caring, responsible adult” in life.

I can relate. As a teen in high school, my busy parents were distracted. My mother had her Junior League projects and bridge during the day and cocktails after, and my father firmly believed, and often said, that children were to be seen and not heard. So I hit the jackpot when the home economics teacher made me her pet project in life, just like a big sister.

Mrs. Elaine Carroll … my caring, responsible adult figure. I met with her after school, one on one, several days a week, and she taught me how to sew, how to read fabric, to make a pattern, French seams, rolled hems, bound buttonholes … . By the time I was a junior, 1968, I could open the Vogue magazine and copy anything in it as expertly as a Parisian couturier. She spent real quality time with me.

Along the way, she also taught me about the mysteries of life, and bigger dreams than staying in town and settling down with my high school sweetheart. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that!) She was a great inspiration. I knew she cared about me, and I adored her and felt safe with her. It was she I went to with my private questions and for advice. I got great advice! I wonder where my life would have gone without the wisdom and love of that one caring, responsible adult.

Fast forward to 2015 in Santa Fe, N.M. Guess what? The 49th worst state in the USA in “child well being,” just ahead of Mississippi! Why is that? It cannot just be government money, it is a mindset: latchkey kids, kids born of kids, kids lacking a “caring, responsible adult?” Just in case there’s not one handy, in steps Big Brothers Big Sisters, ordinary, everyday, GOOD people who are the right kind of role models for kids who otherwise don’t have occasion to come across solid people, and look to the TV and movies, or gangs and the streets, losers, for their role models.

One of the problems we have in our society today is our teens growing up with few male teachers and the positive influence they can have, especially for the boys. “Bigs” pick up the slack here, particularly for kids with absentee fathers. Like Mrs. Carroll, Big Brothers Big Sisters provides attention, time, guidance and significant activity for kids with no reference points, no criteria for deciphering positive life choices versus negative, and no strength for standing up against peer pressure. What a difference one good role model can be in a kid’s life! Make or break! Maybe, in the end, life or death.

We heard several real life stories of the overwhelming influence a “Big” had had on a little one’s life at the annual gala at the Convention Center Saturday night, packed with 500 enthusiastic supporters in black tie going all out to raise as much money as possible in the silent and live auctions.

The evening raised in excess of $300,000, earmarked for matching 200 “Bigs” to 200 “Littles” … lots of love.


Ashley Margetson has a BA in English from UCLA, is a senior real estate broker with Sotheby’s International Realty and has a finger on the pulse of philanthropic activities in Santa Fe. To tell us about an upcoming event, email apm@ashleymargetson.com.


Jane Egan is director of development and communications for the Santa Fe Community Foundation.


Kristina Fisher, board chair, and Andy Otto, executive director of the Santa Fe Watershed Association.


Carlos and Rachel Gonzalez, with Sophia and Jeremy Lovato and hands full of cocktail glasses.


Monica Martinez, chief development officer, and Andrea Maril, chief executive officer of Big Brothers Big Sisters, Mountain Region.


Eleanor and Mike Peters of St. John’s College support Big Brothers Big Sisters.


Salvador Ruiz, executive director, and Roger Montoya, artistic director of Moving Arts Española show off their Piñon Award.


Les Samuels and Shannon Boniface chair the area chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters.


Ron Shumate and Doug Cooksey served as volunteers at the Big Brothers Big Sisters auction.


Andrea and Gordon Skalleberg are dressed up for the Big Brothers Big Sisters fundraiser.


Bob Ansheles, development director, and Corinne Collins, executive director of the Cancer Foundation for New Mexico won the Quiet Inspiration award.


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