Sandoval Signpost


An independent monthly newspaper serving the community since 1988
  Real People

Joan and “Piki”

“Our Right to Grieve” delves into the topic of disenfranchised loss

Joan M. Hellquist will be giving a talk entitled “Our Right to Grieve,” at the Placitas Community Library, 453 Highway 165, on October 28, at 2:00 p.m. She will speak about disenfranchised grief and how her own grief process led her to write and illustrate her first book, Beyond the Stars: The Other Side, Through a Child’s Eyes.

Until Joan started looking exploring her grieving process, she thought she was part of a small group of people who had learned to keep their feelings inside while dealing with great loss. But she now feels that it is extremely common and that everyone has experienced at least one kind of disenfranchised loss.

Joan M. Hellquist has lived in Placitas for twenty-nine years and is known by many for her painting of wildlife images on Indian-made hand drums. More recently she became a Service Dog Trainer along with her own service dog, “Piki.” The most recent addition to how Joan keeps herself involved is being a Volunteer Bereavement Facilitator at the Children’s Grief Center of New Mexico.

Marion Lustig

Sandoval County volunteer honored with public service award

~Signpost Staff

Marion Lustig is a volunteer with many skills; some call her the ultimate public servant. Over the last 22 years she has helped the nonprofit Storehouse West in Rio Rancho, an agency that provides food, children's clothing, and hygiene supplies to families, seniors, and individuals experiencing short- and long-term need. There, Lusttig’s main job is to interview people seeking help and then work with them to resolve the immediate crisis.

Her volunteering doesn't stop there. Lustig also is the liaison between managers of the Sandoval County Retired Senior Volunteer Program and the network of senior citizens who donate their time working at libraries, hospitals, and nonprofit agencies across the county.

Lustig is one of those retired senior volunteers, and, in August, her good work led to her being honored with the 2017 New Mexico Conference on Aging Public Service Award. She received the award during the annual conference sponsored by the New Mexico Department of Aging and Long-Term Services.

"I wish I could share this prestigious award with every volunteer," Lustig said in her acceptance speech. "Volunteering is very rewarding to us personally… Our lives are enriched by helping other people. I accept this award on behalf of all volunteers."

Sandy Escarcida, Sandoval County’s volunteer services coordinator, said she nominated Lustig for this award because Lustig’s desire to help others—without reward or recognition—is so obvious.

"Marion’s reasons for volunteering are purely altruistic," Escarcida said. "She says that when she volunteers, she knows she’s doing something worthwhile for her community."

Escarcida also noted that Lustig started volunteering more than forty years ago when she was “class mother” and a PTA board member at her sons’ school in New York. Her other volunteer jobs included a ten-year stint at a thrift shop that raised money to purchase medical equipment that was then loaned to people who couldn’t afford to buy it for themselves.

Joining the Retired Senior Volunteer Program and working at Storehouse West were a natural fit when she and her husband moved to New Mexico.

"With her many years working at Storehouse West, she has always emphasized how vital volunteers are to the organization," Escarcida said. "That’s why she does her best to never miss her shift, and she always tells new volunteers the importance of being committed and dedicated to what they do."

Looking for volunteers

Sandoval County Senior Companion Program pairs senior volunteers with seniors who are homebound, need companionship, and help with their errands. They also manage a Foster Grandparent Mentor Program that pairs senior volunteers with students at local preschools and elementary schools who need help with their studies.

If you are interested in volunteering or would like to learn more, please call Doris at 404-5822 or Sandy at 404-5818.

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