GABRIELLE ARSIAGA /NEWS-SUN
Gretchen Koether, Becky Kesner, and Blanca Perez have empowered, advocated for, and been a shield for hundreds of women in Lea County who have been victims of abuse, sexual assault, and human trafficking.
The trio’s organization, Phoenix House, has become an integral part of the Lea County court system by being a sexual assault and domestic violence resource center.
As a way to honor the efforts of women, the United Way of Lea County held the third annual Women United Awards luncheon on Saturday.
Awards with names like Shining Light, Inspired Heart, Champion of Women’s Diversity, Warrior of Women, and Woman of the Year were given out to seven different recipients.
Lorena Castillo, 211 Program Coordinator and Women United Coordinator, explained how each woman was nominated for their respective award.
“We had 31 nominations. You could nominate whomever in the community, so long as they live in Lea County and are a woman. You filled out a nomination form online and then the selection committee, which consisted of a group of previous winners and other women in the community, then selected the winners based on a point system.
“We wanted women from all over Lea County, who were impactful in big and small ways and deserved an opportunity to shine.”
The first of the awards given was the Shining Light award to Becky Moreno.
The award description from United Way for the Shining Light award recipient is someone who has, “continued to push forward through great adversity and has dedicated her life to advocating for addiction recovery and support. It is through her grit, resolve, and strength of character that she continues to shine brightly in Lea County.”
Rosalinda Moreno was the Inspired Heart award recipient. According to Castillo the award should be someone who is the “epitome of compassion and intentional acts of love. Her impact isn’t measured by volume, or in numbers, her impact is in her daily efforts to improve the life of others through serving.”
Rhonda Tyler explained why Moreno is deserving of the award.
“She is the director of Heart’s Desire,” Tyler explained. “Rosalinda is the most hardworking and selfless person that I know. She spends countless hours, for very little pay, making Heart’s the organization that it is. She shows each person that she comes in contact with the unconditional love of Jesus. She leads by example and would never ask anyone to do a task that she would not undertake herself.”
The Champion of Women’s Diversity award was presented to Rosa Carrillo.
Carrillo’s daughter, Lily Aranda, presented her mother the award.
“She was nominated for this award because she serves on many boards including the past chair president for the Hispano Chamber of Commerce,” Aranda said. “Rosa volunteers even though she has a full time business that she runs. She uses her business, Got Safety, to help give back to the community. She uses her business to promote women’s education in the oil in gas industry where women are a minority.”
According to Carrillo, in the field she works in, though it is dominated by men, she feels she is accepted and is able to use that to her advantage to mentor women both young and old.
“I work in a man dominated environment and I am accepted so nicely. I feel like I bring a lot to the table when someone calls me. I am very happy to have received this award… I believe that everyone has a story, share your story, it needs to be heard,” Carrillo said.
The final award given was the Woman of the Year — and that went to Laura Davis.
Owner of United Realty, Davis has “built an empire” in Lea County. “She continues to educate and uplift women in a field previously dominated by men and encourages women to volunteer and serve in the very community she is building up,” the award program read.
Davis said her journey to success was not easy.
“When I wanted to start my real estate career I wanted to start it in Las Cruces. I interviewed with every real estate company in Las Cruces. I could got not get hired. I am straight out of high school, I’m just trying to be their assistant, not even a realtor. My friend would drive with me to every interview, and would motivate me to continue trying. Now, I am so glad it wasn’t Las Cruces that gave me that chance, it was Hobbs, New Mexico and this community,” Davis said.
Corina Carrasco presented Davis with the award.
“I’ve been working with United Realty for almost four years now…” Carrasco said. “Laura is such a hard working and inspiring woman. She has achieved so much in her career, from opening a brokerage in 2015, Realtor of Year, being the number one team in New Mexico MLS with 41 brokers, 36 being women, receiving Entrepreneur of the Year and Business of the Year by Hispano Chamber of Commerce.”
The runner-ups for this year’s women of recognition were:
• Becca Smith
• Shannon Pickering
• Cissy Diaz
• Ruby Norton
• Marsha Schubert
• Blanca Perez
• Chelsea Gambino
• Karen Fili
Gabrielle Arsiaga may be reached at .