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Disabilities Resource Center grand opening Monday

Disabilities Resource CenterSilver City, New Mexico, April 15, 2015:   The Disabilities Resource Center opens its doors on Monday, April 20, 2015, from 5 to 8 p.m. at 1012 N. Silver Street, located next to the Silver City Recreation Center. The community is invited to enjoy light refreshments while viewing the new resources and equipment available at the Center. 
 
Vicki Galindo, a parent on an individual with a disability and the community advocate of The ARC of New Mexico - Grant County Chapter, envisions the Center as a hub for the community and utilized for “parent support groups, social learning, gatherings, educational trainings, mentoring, play groups, therapy and housing resources.”
 
The Center is the culmination of three years of coordination and collaboration efforts by community partners and the Governor’s Commission on Disability. CEO of Life Quest, Inc., Evangeline Zamora says, “The Disabilities Resource Center will provide an environment that is quiet, private and can be used by families and other community stakeholders for therapies, conferences, educational classes, parent classes, etc. pertaining to disabilities.   The Center is for public use and to my knowledge the only such open center in this part of the state available solely for this purpose! “
 
The Center’s structure was secured by the Town of Silver City through collaboration with Silver Consolidated School District then relocated a centralized location, adjacent to the Silver City Recreation Center.  Silver City Town Manager, Alex Brown said, “Peter Peña and the Facilities Management staff went above and beyond to see the Center was settled safely into its new home.”
 
Meanwhile, the Grant County Disability Advisory Council (DAC) pooled resources to fill the Center with equipment for the community. Western New Mexico University was able to secure a grant for $42,000 for assistive equipment lending library from New Mexico Technology Assistance Program (NMTAP) from the Governor’s Commission on Disabilities. 
 
WNMU Assistant Professor Patti West-Okiri, MSW, says, “Special populations, including veterans, the elderly, and the disabled have challenges that are unique…and make the cost and travel required to access some resources out of reach.  The Disabilities Resource Center is one way we can come together as a community to meet those needs.” 
 
WNMU Social Work Department intern, Mackie Thoutt conducted an assessment to stock the NMTAP resource lending library with equipment that best meets the needs of the community.  NMTAP will also be partnering to offer demonstrations and trainings of the equipment at the resource lending library.
 
West-Okiri says, “As a former school social worker, and a parent of a child with a disability, I have seen first-hand how the absence of locally available assistive technology can create barriers for people.
Assistive technology helps people carry out their daily activities using any type of device to help them live healthy, productive, and more independent lives.  These assistive devices can be aid with mobility, hearing, vision and communication for individuals with disabilities.
 
West-Okiri adds that assistive technology changes people’s lives for the better, “In my son’s case, his ability to communicate functionally through speech is the most important thing.  Can you imagine living 12 years, as he has, without the ability to effectively communicate with the people around you?  For him, augmented communication devices are absolutely essential.  We have already tried some out.  My favorite sentence he has produced do far has been, ‘Oh boy! That was delicious!’ He has never been able to communicate something so simple – and as a mom, it feels really good to finally begin hearing his ‘voice’!”
 
The Town of Silver City has entrusted and partnered with Life Quest, Inc., to make the building and lending library available to the public.
 
 Zamora says, “The Center is an exciting resource for us, as rural communities often do not have access to this type of equipment and meeting space!”
DAC would like to thank all the agencies, organizations and individuals that have contributed their time, equipment and resources to make the Center become a reality. 
 
The Disability Advisory Council is overseen by the Grant County Community Health Council, the Health and Wellness Authority of the Board of Grant County Commissioners and supported by Gila Regional Medical Center.
 
For more information about the Disabilities Resource Center call (575) 388-1976.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 April 2015 13:11

Caregivers receive certificates

Caregiver Refresher Training 2015Silver City, N.M., April 10, 2015 – In April, 18 people received certificates of completion for the Caregivers Refresher Training offered by a partnership with Western New Mexico University’s School of Nursing and the Senior Life Cycle of the Grant County Community Health Council in April. The seven-week training focused on refreshing the skills of professional and family caregivers.

WNMU Assistant Professor, Krista Wood said the training was an excellent opportunity for caregivers to get “up to date on new techniques and expand their knowledge of local resources while networking with other caregivers.”

The training topics included: basic home care; procedures related to activities of daily living; ethics and role-modeling; chronic health problems and related medications; nutritional support and exercise; Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia; end of life and hospice care, and personal business management.

Senior Concerns Coordinator for the Health Council, Connie Hostetler, said, “We are so pleased to see the string community participation in the training. This issue has been a major concern of the Senior Life Cycle for over a decade.” The Senior Life Cycle is a group of agencies, service providers, non-profit organizations, and community members collaborating to address senior concerns in Grant County   

The Senior Life Cycle next meets on Wednesday, May 13, 2015, from 3:30 to 5p.m. in the Health Council office, 214 N. Black St. Everyone is welcome.

For more information on the Senior Life Cycle call (575) 388-1198. For more information on the WNMU School of Nursing call (575) 538-6960.

Pictured (in no particular order):  Dee Altosa, Brian Arrington,  Jeffery Arrington,  Lupe Carbajal, Bonnie Clark, Lillian Ellars, Rosemary Gutierrez, Lisa Hernandez, John Heslip, Kathie Hunt, Audrey Lopez, Delfina Naranjo, Joselyn Ortega, Guy Petrucci, Linda Sanchez, Denise Wilson, Professor Krista Wood (WNMU School of Nursing) and Connie Hostetler (Senior LifeCycle Coordinator)

Not pictured: Kayln Crumbley and Eve McLaughlin

Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 April 2015 13:17

Caregiver refresher training offered

woman in wheelchair smallSilver City, New Mexico, January 27, 2015:   Professional and family caregivers have a chance to brush up on their skills at a seven-week training program held Mondays starting on February 16, 2015. The program is free, and respite care is available upon request.

This is the second year the training is being offered through a partnership between Western New Mexico University’s School of Nursing and the Senior Life Cycle of the Grant County Community Health Council.  

Agency Director Addus Home Health, Rose Ortiz participated in last year’s training. Ortiz praised the program, “The training was well organized and the presenters excellent.  It was useful for the caregivers out there trying to give right care to keep the people they love at home safe, and be sure they receive proper care.”

Ortiz especially enjoyed the one-to-one teams meeting and the excellent handouts she received, which she utilizes for in-service training for her agency’s caregivers.

According to the National Alliance of Caregiving, more than 65 million people, 29 percent of the U.S. population, provide care for a chronically ill, disabled or aged family member or friend and spend an average of 20 hours per week providing care for their loved one. A majority of caregivers report they need help identifying resources and communicating to physicians their loved one’s medical needs.

WNMU Assistant Professor, Krista Wood says the training is an excellent opportunity for caregivers to get “up to date on new techniques and expand their knowledge of local resources while networking with other caregivers.” Professor Wood oversees the Certified Nursing Assistant program at WNMU’s School of Nursing.  The trainings will be facilitated by WNMU nursing faculty, community experts and appropriate certified professionals.

Wood says she has cared for family members and knows how daunting the task can be, “Most caregivers get thrown into the role and wing it, but there is a whole community of other caregivers with resources and knowledge to share.”

Senior Concerns Coordinator for the Health Council, Connie Hostetler, says, “We are so excited to offer our local valuable caregivers opportunities to improve their skills. This issue has been a major concern of the Senior Life Cycle for over a decade, and we are so happy with the extraordinary reception the training is receiving from the community.”    

The training topics include: basic home care; procedures related to activities of daily living; ethics and role-modeling; chronic health problems and related medications; nutritional support and exercise; Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia; end of life and hospice care, and personal business management.

The training will be held every Monday starting on February 16 until April 6, 2015, from 4:30 – 7 p.m.  Respite care is available upon request, and a light dinner will be served to participants.  Registration is required for participation in the program and the deadline to register is Friday, February 6, 2015. For more information or to register contact Jean Smith at (575) 538-6960 or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 January 2015 14:31

Cunningham & Edwards join Health Council

CunninghamEdwardsSilver City, New Mexico, January 8, 2015:  On Monday, the Grant County Community Health Council will welcome two new members,  Brian Cunningham and Alicia Edwards, during the group’s regular quarterly meeting at 3 p.m. in the Grant County Administration Building, 1400 Hwy 180 East.


Cunningham’s appointment marks the return of representation to the Health Council by Gila Regional Medical Center (GRMC), while Edwards will be the first person to represent Food Security and Community Resiliency sector on the Council.


Health Council Chair, Priscilla Lucero is delighted with the new influential appointments, “I think Cunningham brings great leadership to the Council, and Edwards is bringing advocacy to ensure people are served.”


As Chief Executive Officer of GRMC, Brian Cunningham believes, “the Health Council’s mission is part of the mission of our community hospital.” Both entities work to ensure a better quality of life for Grant County residents.


Cunningham adds, “My focus is to see support is provided to the Health Council, so they have the resources they need to serve the community.” He will serve on the Steering Committee that guides the endeavors of the Council.


As Executive Director of The Volunteer Center of Grant County, Edwards sees her role on the Health Council as “expanding community awareness and action around our economic challenges.”


According to Edwards, the new sector she represents for Food Security and Community Resiliency is definitely needed, “In Grant County, 50 percent of residents are living at or below the threshold for basic economic security. There isn’t anything resilient about our community if we are suffering economically.”
Edwards hopes by participating on the Health Council, she can better reach policy-makers to turn around those statistics and bring prosperity to more Grant County residents.


Health Council Coordinator, Chris Debolt says the new sector is a much needed addition to the Council, “Hunger is a huge issue in Grant County, and Edwards will help the Council better address this immediate and serious problem.”


The Health Council is composed of 30 members appointed by the Grant County Board of Commissioners.  The Council is the designated Health and Wellness Planning Authority for the Grant County Board of Commissioners and supported by Gila Regional Medical Center.


The Health Council meets on Monday, January 12, 2015, at 3 p.m. in the Grant County Commissioners’’ Board Room, located at the Grant County Administrative Building, 1400 Hwy 180 East. The community is invited to attend, as well as a section for public input. For more information contact the Health Council at (575) 388-1198 ext. 10 or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Last Updated on Thursday, 08 January 2015 09:27

Neighborhood Orchards

Silver City, New Mexico, October 29, 2014:   A new project, Public Trees for Public Health, will plant orchards in twenty neighborhoods in Grant County during the coming year. The orchards will be located in areas with little or no access to existing community fruit trees or edible plants. Public Trees for Public Health Project was funded by the Wells Fargo Foundation and the Grant County United Way for $5,000. The project originated with Grant County Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities (HKHC), an endeavor of the Grant County Community Health Council to promote healthy eating and active living with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The previous coordinator of HKHC, A.J. Sandoval said, “Access to fresh fruit is difficult for many people in Grant County, and it only makes sense to have fruit trees instead of ornamental trees in public spaces.  This is a great project that sprouted from the ideas of many people including Marcus.”

The Health Council will lead a coalition of agencies, organizations and municipalities to pool resources and collaborate on the orchards. Public Trees for Public Health Project was inspired by Marcus Woodard, a local anti-hunger activist. Woodard created a map of fruit trees and other edibles available around downtown Silver City.  Woodard says, “I wanted to see trees that have community access get harvested to feed people.”

Health Council assistant coordinator, Kendra Milligan said, “We’ve been mapping community fruit trees for the last two years with partners like WNMU Sustainability Club and the Natural Sciences Department’s Dr. Kathy Whiteman. With the resulting map, HKHC’s Valerie Slover was able to tailor a grant request to fund neighborhood orchards in areas with low access to fresh fruit and reporting high levels of hunger.”

New Mexico ranks first in the nation for childhood hunger, according to the Map the Meal Gap study by Feeding America, with a child hunger rate of 29 percent, well above the national average of 18 percent.

Most of Grant County is classified as a ‘food desert,’ by the United States Department of Agriculture.  Food deserts are areas without ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food; thus residents have fewer healthy and affordable food options. The lack of access contributes to a poor diet and can lead to higher levels of obesity and other diet-related diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.

The Public Trees for Public Health Project will bring an abundance of healthy fruit to Grant County neighborhoods, while adding trees to the desert landscape to attract pollinators. Project funds will also be utilized for drip irrigation systems and water catchment specialists to insure the trees prosper in the region’s dry climate.

The Health Council is composed of 30 community leaders who represent various sectors in the community with the goal of mobilizing resources and affecting policy for a greater positive impact on residents’ overall health. The Health Council is the Health and Wellness Planning Authority of the Grant County Board of Commissioners and supported by Gila Regional Medical Center.

For more information on the Public Trees for Public Health Project contact Kendra Milligan at (575) 388-1198 ext. 10 or email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Last Updated on Thursday, 08 January 2015 08:34

Youth Panel discusses School Policies

Youth Panel 12-3-14Silver City, New Mexico, December 5, 2014:  A panel of local youth, joined by over thirty concerned community members, delved into School Policies at a recent Town Hall held on Wednesday, (December 3, 2014) and hosted by the Youth Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition (YSAPC). 

Attendees called for uniform enforcement of school policies, especially regarding dress codes; treatment and counseling options for students abusing drugs, and yearly training for staff and students on new or updated school policies.

Youth panelists included Cheyenne Kimmick and Caitlin Zollinge, both seniors at Silver High School, and XuanDie’ Chavez, a 7th Grade Student Senator at La Plata Middle School. Panelists scheduled from Cobre School District were unable to attend due to required training for the Football Championship Play-offs.

All three panelists reported personally experiencing school policies unfairly or arbitrarily enforced by school staff, especially regarding dress code, but also regarding bullying, fighting and substance abuse. Also, panelists called for more student input into school policies; especially through the existing schools’ student councils.

Attendees Yasmine Marquez, 16 and Kyeasha Rivera, 12, said their personal experiences and attitudes on school policies were reflected by the panelists’.   “We have three pages of policy on clothing and the other policy [substance abuse] has three sentences. It appears our school district is obsessed with clothing,” observed Hugh Epping, an attendee.  

Zollinger agreed, “The dress code, when printed, is a whole page long and the drug policy is a paragraph. The schools are more focused on what kids are wearing than what we are putting into our bodies.”

Kimmick added, “The dress code is more enforced than the policies for drugs or fighting.”

Many Town Hall participants voiced concern over the substance abuse policies which are punitive, not rehabilitative, in nature.  As a mother of three students, Sonya Rivera said of the substance abuse policy, “The consequences are only suspension or expulsion. Why deny them an education? Mandatory treatment, counseling, and rehabilitation are what are needed.”

The panelists and attendees called for consistency in enforcement on school policies, and a possible grievance system to be put into place for students who feel their reports or issues are not being properly addressed by school staff.

Kimmick said that more training is needed by staff on youth mental health issues and where to refer students for aid. 

Zollinger said, “We need to bridge the communication gap between youth and adults. Town Halls, like these, are a start to open communication.”

The YSAPC will share discussion topics and suggestions for policy change from the Town Hall with the local school boards and administration. This is the second town hall hosted by the YSAPC, which hopes to use input to help focus their Coalition’s future efforts. A third town hall is scheduled for March 2015 in Bayard to gather school policy issues from both school districts.

The YSAPC is composed of 25 invested providers and community members dedicated to creating an environment that cultivates healthy productive lifestyles through policy and advocacy change that promotes resilient and empowered youth.

For more information on the YSAPC call (575) 388-1198 or visit their website at www.facebook.com/YSAPC. The Silver Consolidated Schools’ Parent/Student Handbook can be downloaded at http://www.silverschools.org/contact_school/parent__student_handbook_-_2014-15_school_year and the Cobre Consolidated Schools’ at http://www.cobre.k12.nm.us/board_of_education/board_policies

The YSAPC  is a program of the Grant County Community Health Council, the Health and Wellness Planning Authority of the Grant County Board of Commissioners, and is supported by Gila Regional Medical Center. 

Last Updated on Thursday, 08 January 2015 09:13

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