LOS LUNAS — Driven by their passion for community service, two resourceful high-schoolers recently organized a free community event for all to enjoy.  

As part of their service learning class at Los Lunas High School, senior Heaven Tafoya and junior Jolynne Ramirez were asked to create a project dedicated to addressing an issue in Valencia County they are passionate about aiding.  

“Jo and I personally have experienced poverty growing up, so we know as a kid it’s hard to find fun that’s free; everything just costs a lot of money,” said Tafoya.  

Felina Martinez | News-Bulletin photos
A young boy attending the resource fair held March 2 at Los Lunas High School spins a wheel for a prize at one of the vendor booths. 

Inspired by this idea, the duo decided to host a free resource fair open to the public marking the culmination of their class project.  

“All year has been leading up to this; we’ve been doing a lot of planning and we’re just so happy we were able to get everything together,” said Tafoya. “The turnout is especially what made us so happy — I almost cried.” 

The resource fair, held March 2 at LLHS, featured free family fun, food and resources such as free haircuts and clothing collected through the school’s free thrift store.  

Several local vendors also attended to provide further information on resources available within the county for people who may need a helping hand.  

“We wanted to have something local so (residents) didn’t have to worry about spending a bunch of money going to the mall or Cliff’s or something like that,” said Tafoya. “Here, they don’t have to spend a dime. They got to shop for free, get food for free … it’s almost like a cookout for the community.”  

Tafoya and Ramirez recognized Holly Noelle Chavez, co-owner and co-director of H2 Academic Solutions, for her role in finding vendors and helping to bring the event all together.  

“We needed a sponsor, someone who was passionate about it, too, and she was on it and was so excited,” said Tafoya.  

Impressed by their passion and dedication, Chavez encouraged the two to apply for a job at H2 Academic Solutions, a nonprofit based in Belen that helps connect people in need to resources they need to thrive.  

“It’s been an amazing experience and we’ve both learned a lot about the community of homelessness around us and it’s helped to destigmatize a lot of things and preconceived notions,” said Tafoya about working at H2 Academic Solutions. “At the end of the day, we are all living life for the first time and these people are still learning what they’re doing just like the rest of us, so why not help them out?” 

High-schooler’s Heaven Tafoya, left, and Jolynne Ramirez, right, pictured at the resource fair. The duo organized the free community event as part of their service learning class at LLHS.

While the resource fair serves as the highlight, Ramirez said they have been able to accomplish a lot through their class project in addition, such as providing hygiene bags to students and community members in need.  

With prom season coming up, Ramirez said they hope to keep the momentum going by helping to organize free prom services for students such as help with hair and makeup. 

“It’s actually a project we’re working on hopefully for this year because we know prom season can be a very hard time,” said Ramirez. “It’s a big moment in your life and we don’t want people to miss out on it.” 

Ramirez said they will continue to have a QR code hung up around LLHS that students can scan to request a resource bag that contains free hygiene supplies as well as a variety of other useful items and some items just for fun.  

“Yes, you have things in that bag you need but then there is some stuff you want — something to look forward to,” said Ramirez. “For example, someone who filled out the survey said she wanted a teddy bear and some makeup and we know having little things like that brings so much joy and happiness.” 

Tafoya said they are thankful for the opportunity to give back to their community.  

“I love seeing people happy and I think it’s so great when I see a community of people come together,” Tafoya said. “Valencia County is a great community. We’re all a little antisocial after Covid, so things like this are important to try and bring the community back together and also have fun without the worry of breaking the bank.” 

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Felina Martinez was born and raised in Valencia County. She graduated from the University of New Mexico in 2021. During her time at UNM, she studied interdisciplinary film, digital media and journalism. She covers the village of Los Lunas, Los Lunas Schools, the School of Dreams Academy and the town of Peralta.