Part of the Solution
If there’s a problem to be solved, a task to be completed or a need in the community, Hollie Riggin is the go-to person to find a solution.
For Riggin, being named an Unsung Hero was quite the surprise, saying she has to step out of her comfort zone to accept the honor.
“It’s not about the recognition — it’s a calling,” Riggin said of the reason she volunteers. “God has a blueprint for my life, and I’m just following His plan.”
Riggin and her family, including her husband, Terry, and two daughters, Lydia and Keilee, moved to Los Lunas in 1999 from Albuquerque, and then south to Rio Communities seven years ago. She had stepped down as a substitute nurse for Belen Consolidated Schools in 2011 because of health issues, but knew she had much more to give.
“I had been thinking what was I supposed to do — all I knew was nursing,” Riggin said. “I believe in God, and I believe (what I do now) was a calling.”
Noelle Chavez, who nominated Riggin as an Unsung Hero, said Riggins “… has a caring heart and is passionate about youth and Valencia County.”
Riggin an active member of the H2 Academic Solutions Scholarship Fund board of directors, a member of the 100 % Community Food Task Force, and is a volunteer at her church, Calvary Chapel New Harvest in Los Lunas.
“I nominate Hollie because I can count on her to show up in the community whenever there is a need,” Chavez said. “Through H2ASSF, she has passed out food and hygiene bags, runs tables at events, donates to our supply drives, hands out fliers and helps to locate new volunteers.”
With desire to help the community, she approached Holly Chavez, co-owner of H2 Academics, and asked if there was an open position on the board.
“I didn’t know what I was getting myself into because I knew nothing about sitting on a board,” Riggin said. “I knew they did scholarships for kids who need tutoring, and I was interested in that because I struggled in school.”
With the knowledge that there are a lot of children who need help, and many who can’t afford it, she decided to step up and be a part of the solution.
As a H2ASSF board member, she and the others are willing to put in the hours it takes to raise funds and other tasks needed to make the nonprofit organization a viable resource for the community.
“Sometimes I’ll talk to businesses about supporting us, and I will help with the events, especially with fundraising,” she said. “They have given me the title of hospitality representative, which means I make sure everyone is doing OK during our fundraisers.”
For Riggin, gratitude is important and necessary, so she also makes sure she writes hand-written thank-you notes to everyone who donates and everyone who volunteers.
“I like that extra written touch,” she said. “I don’t even think about it. I automatically just do it.”
The 100 % Community Food Task Force, a committee associated with the Community Wellness Council, tries to figure out how to get food resources into the community.
“We recently did a survey about what keeps people from accessing food,” Riggin explained. “Is it a language barrier, dietary issues, lack of transportation?”
Knowing there are food issues in the community, the task force members helped with providing food boxes to families.
“We also wanted to make sure there were no gaps in services with a page of resources — maps included,” she said. “We just wanted to give people the information about where food and other resources are available in the community.
“We’re trying to make sure people in the community get what they need, especially during the pandemic, when it’s been so hard on a lot of people.”
In one and a half years, the task force has been able to hand out 1,500 food boxes periodically to the community. They were also able to acquire grants to buy food and hygiene products to hand out to those in need.
For 11 years, Riggin has also dedicated her time and energy volunteering at Calvary Chapel New Harvest as a greeter and work behind the scenes with the AMPED Youth Group, which is a group designed to provide an open atmosphere where students from 7 to 12 years old can meet to worship God in an atmosphere that will help forge friendships.
“Basically, I serve Jesus, and where He calls me I go,” she said. “I’m in charge of the El Ranchitos de los Niños outreach, in which we go out and spend time with the kids. We’ve done Christmas outreaches and have helped them with their food drives.”
Her volunteer efforts, or “duties as assigned” as she calls them, also include helping with fliers, helping with the church’s Harvest Fest, as the volunteer first aid person and will help with the Vacation Bible School.
For Riggin, volunteering isn’t just something she does in her free time, it’s about giving back to her community and trying to make it better.
“I do have the free time to do it, and I do it to the best of my ability,” she said. “It’s hard work, it takes dedication, it takes patience. I’ve grown as a person from doing this.”
Riggin has learned a lot about the community in the time she has been volunteering.
“When I first moved here, I found myself complaining about this and that,” she said. “It made me realize that I needed to be part of the solution and get in there and do what I can to help. Stop complaining.
“We don’t need to be complainers. We need to love all people and help them the best way we can. Love God; love people.”
Clara Garcia is the editor and publisher of the Valencia County News-Bulletin.
She is a native of the city of Belen, beginning her journalism career at the News-Bulletin in 1998 as the crime and courts reporter. During her time at the paper, Clara has won numerous awards for her writing, photography and typography and design both from the National Newspaper Association and the New Mexico Press Association.