Heroes come in all shapes and sizes — as they say. They may be police officers or firefighters, who face dangers and protect the public on a daily basis.

Heroes are also those people who give of their time, of their wisdom and of their hearts to serve the greater good — their community. Valencia County is very lucky to have people who care enough and make an effort to affect change.

The News-Bulletin is delighted to honor this year’s  Citizens of the Year and Unsung  Heroes — folks who go above and beyond for our children and for our community.

This year, like most, nominations were abundant, but only a few could be chosen. We all should be proud of the people who give their time to make our community better, and thank them for what they do. They are our heroes — our guiding lights.

The choice of Citizens of the Year wasn’t too difficult to make. We received numerous nominations for all three — Deborah Baca, health services coordinator for Belen Consolicated Schools; Jacqueline Kelly-Romero, Los Lunas Schools district charge nurse; and Tia Montoya, nurse manager for the Los Lunas Public Health Office.

These women have been diligently working for nearly two years, battling COVID-19 in our schools and in our community. They all say they don’t do what they do for the recognition, but they deserve our praise and our appreciation.

The same holds true for our Unsung Heroes — each with their own mission and goal to make a difference.

Mary Hahn, the volunteer research librarian at the Belen Harvey House Museum, is a treasure. She has compiled a list of 2,670 names of those who have worked in every Harvey House in New Mexico. Her work in cataloging and preserving our history is remarkable.

Bart Regelbrugge is a true champion for our children. Along with his volunteer work for the Community Wellness Council, his goal is to promote children’s literacy and creating a positive environment for the youth.

Hollie Riggin says she volunteers not only to help her community but to serve God’s plan. Riggin’s caring heart led her to become a board member of the H2 Academic Solutions Scholarship board of directors, a member of the 100 % Community Food Task Force and a volunteer at her church.

Rosa Sisneros is a busy wife, mother, employee and college student. In her limited spare time, she makes it a point to volunteer at the El Corazon de Belen Garden Park. She also helped her neighbors by cooking them meals when the flood hit Belen this summer. She hopes more people will show each other kindness, saying the world would be a better place.

Merita Wilson, a fifth-grade teacher at St. Mary’s Catholic School in Belen, is a teacher and child literacy advocate, who donates her time and wisdom at Books on Becker, a second-had bookstore in Belen, and is a member of the Friends of the Belen Public Library and the Rio Communities Library Board. Wilson hopes to be able to get books in the hands of as many children as possible.

Our community — Valencia County — is filled with people who are kind, who are helpful and who give of their time and their hearts. We are very grateful to live and work in a place where there are folk who truly care and make a difference.

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The Valencia County News-Bulletin is a locally owned and operated community newspaper, dedicated to serving Valencia County since 1910 through the highest journalistic and professional business standards. The VCNB is published weekly on Thursdays, including holidays both in print and online.