People from the Las Cruces area Doña Ana County have started to take civic action by meeting with area decision makers.
Doña Ana Communities United is working with different groups to give voices to people who may not feel like they’re voices are not being heard.
The organization has been working with volunteers with the Mesilla Valley Community of Hope and Juvenile Citation Program in the Las Cruces area to address needs important to these communities.
Kari Bachman, Communities United Coordinator recently helped volunteers with the groups arrange a meeting with the City of Las Cruces.
“We’ve had community members come here and engage with upper-level administration with the city with ideas that are important to them, and the city in-turn has been able to see the passion, the commitment of community members for making change hand-in-hand. It’s the beginning of a partnership,” says Bachman
Michael Seamster participated in the juvenile citation program. Now, he volunteers for the program. He says the area around the program is unsafe due to lack of sidewalks and he even has found dangerous items like a syringe in the street where kids play.
“There’s a road that’s really unsafe for the kids that go to the agency. It’s unsafe for a lot of people that walk down there and ride their bikes down there,” says Seamster.
Pedestrian safety is also a concern for volunteers at The Mesilla Valley Community of Hope in Las Cruces. Jacqui Castillo Beck used to reside in Camp Hope, she still volunteers there, and she recently met with City Officials to address excessive speeding in the area.
“I almost got hit on a bike the other day. People were rushing to eat lunch at the soup kitchen and they almost ran me over,” says Castillo-Beck.
Stanley Smith also was addressing the need for speed limit signs and safer sidewalks in the area.
“It would help. There are incomplete sidewalks there. They have to get on that little drive to get to the parking lot to get to the building they need to get to and that’s a big risk,” says Smith.
Kasandra Gandara, City Councilor for District One of Las Cruces says the meeting went well with the group, and plans to follow up on the issues.
“This mapping exercise and this program is very positive for me so that I’m able to have the pulse of what the community is saying,” says Gandara.
Kari Bachman says the group plans to continue to address the needs with the city and says that this meeting has been empowering to the members of the group who are working to change their communities for the better.
“We in society see people as ‘other’ we don’t view them sometimes as having gifts and abilities. What I discover in doing this work is that everyone has skills to share. We all can learn from each other and as we come together, we learn that we ourselves have gifts, and that others can enrich us," says Bachman.
The group plans to keep building bridges between different communities in the county so that people from all backgrounds and different stages in life can come together and discuss how they can help their community.