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December 21, 2023

2023 Heroes of Health

Lisa Patch, a director of health services for Alamogordo Public Schools, and Rayven Ward, a 13-year-old advocate from Rio Communities, are Con Alma Health Foundation’s health heroes this year for their actionable efforts to bring transformational change to their communities.

“The review committee was impressed with Lisa’s leadership in bringing telehealth, grief and healing, employee wellness, and laundry services to Alamogordo Public Schools and surrounding areas,” said Denise Herrera, PhD, Con Alma’s executive director. “In our second year honoring a youth hero, we are inspired by Rayven Ward’s passion, advocacy, and fundraising efforts to provide outdoor education and bring about community change.”

Con Alma will donate $1,000 each to 100% Otero, a community partner focused on ensuring access to vital services, on behalf of Patch and Valencia County Community Gardens for its Outdoor Equity Project on behalf of Ward.

Holly Noelle Chavez nominated the oldest of her four children because of her dedication to helping animals and people in need, protecting the environment, and supporting outdoor education. She’s a Teen Court attorney, a member of the Valencia County Juvenile Justice Advisory Board, and Youth Move, an advocacy group, and she co-teaches two religious education classes as well as helps tutor kids involved with her mom’s H2 Academic Solutions business in Belen.

“I think she’s amazing,” Chavez said. “For being only 13 and the things she’s doing, it’s exciting to see what she’ll do next.”

Ward attributed her advocacy to a mentor who taught her the value of the environment at Whitfield Wildlife Conservation Area. After a fire burned the area, Ward and her sister sold handmade art and donations to support Whitfield, and later did the same for the local animal shelter. Now her advocacy has broadened; she’s currently developing a proposal to help educate middle-school students about the dangers of fentanyl.

“I like to inspire people that if they have excess money to give it to someone in need or buy a plant or something that can help the community,” she said.

Cally Finnegan of Alamogordo nominated Patch for her “compassion, dedication and leadership” in ensuring services for students and families who need it most. “In times of uncertainty and change, creative thinkers find solutions to challenges. Lisa Patch, MSN, RN, NCSN, is one of those thinkers,” Finnegan wrote in her nomination letter.

Patch coordinated several initiatives that have made a difference for students and families, such as a healing camp for grieving students and a “store” at school where families can get donated clothing, food, and necessary supplies. Her extensive partnerships expand her reach, including a school telehealth initiative and a partnership with MTC Prison Facilities that builds beds for students who don’t have one. During the height of the pandemic, Patch worked with Alamogordo schools to convert an RV into a mobile health unit that visited skateparks, ballfields and neighborhoods to provide support and resources for school and mental health.

“Our goal has been to remove barriers to learning for every child in our district, so that each one can reach their full potential,” she said.

Patch chose 100% Otero for her $1,000 donation “because they share the mission of working together to address areas families need to survive and thrive. In my 25 years here at Alamogordo Public Schools, I have seen the impact of having several different organizations come together with one goal, to help children. When we share ideas, hard work and resources we can change the lives and health of children and families and set them up for a successful and bright future.”

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