December’s Junior Leadership day covered arts and community topics. Young leaders saw the humblest residences in Las Cruces, as well as the restoration of what was once one of the finest homes in town.
In between was a beautiful day strolling down Main Street, with several informative and educational stops along the way.
At the Community of Hope, the students learned about: Camp Hope, the tent city where many homeless live; Casa de Peregrinos, the food bank; Jardin de Los Nios, the day care center for children of homeless parents; St. Luke’s, a medical facility; and El Caldito, the soup kitchen.
From there, the students went downtown to visit the Branigan Cultural Center and the Las Cruces Museum of Art to learn about services provided by those City of Las Cruces facilities.
The next stop was COAS Books, where owner Mike Beckett explained the history of his company and its role as a small business in Downtown Las Cruces.
Wednesday is a Las Cruces Farmers and Crafts Market day, so the young leaders walked the market and heard from its executive director, Duane Mosley.
Kathleen Albers, executive director of the Doña Ana Arts Council, gave students a tour of the council’s home, the Rio GrandeTheatre, explaining its restoration and role in the revitalization of Downtown.
Students walked next door for lunch at another jewel in the Downtown restoration, the Main Street Bistro and Ale House. Over lunch, Las Cruces architect Steve Newby told the young leaders of plans for returning a plaza to Downtown.
Returning to the Rio Grande Theatre, students heard a song from local musician and artist Bob Diven, who explained how he has managed to build a career of his artistic talents.
At the Museum of Nature and Science, education curator Kim Hanson demonstrated the properties of liquid nitrogen, which included making ice cream. Science can taste good, you know.
Back on the stage at the Rio Grande, a panel of local business people and directors of nonprofit organizations talked about their struggles and successes. Represented were: Beckett; Albers; Executive Director Carrie La Tour of the Downtown Las Cruces Partnership; Beck’s Coffee owner Arianna Parsons; Boys and Girls Club of Las Cruces Executive Director Ashley Echavarria; and
Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Maria Vasquez.
The day ended with a tour of the Nestor Armijo House, the 150-year-old building that once was the residence of prominent local businessman Armijo.
Pat Taylor told young leaders of the painstaking process of restoring the adobe building, which will soon be the new home of the Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce.