On Stands Now
May 2024

Questa  •  Red River  •  Cerro  •  Costilla  •  Amalia  •  Lama  •  San Cristobal

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Photo by Dylan R.N. Crabb: Friendship Circle Volunteers at the newly renovated Questa VFW kitchen. From left to right: Flavio Cisneros, Janice Montoya, Katie Duran, Dorothy Duran, Roxie Barela

Shining Light on Dark Days: The Friendship Circle

Flavio Cisneros and his team of volunteers were hard at work cooking what could have been a Thanksgiving feast for some 200 people. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a feast of thanksgiving but of mourning the life of Felix Quintana Shannon, one of the many memorial dinners the Friendship Circle has prepared this year.

Cisneros and his volunteers are part of an organization known as the Friendship Circle, a group dedicated to providing meals for the families of their recently deceased loved ones.

The Friendship Circle has 400 members. The organization is divided into 12 groups, all volunteers; each group cooks together for a memorial dinner when needed. The original structure of rotating each dinner ensured that each group would cook, at the most, two to three feasts per year, so that no one group would be overburdened. This year Cisneros’ team has cooked for six funerals and they are exhausted. For Felix Quintana Shannon’s memorial dinner, five Friendship Circle volunteers were Cisneros’ main support in his efforts that morning. Many others cooked or baked at home and dropped dishes by the VFW or came to help serve. Cisneros says his group has 25 members, and only a few people show up to help.

“It’s a big undertaking, we’re doing the Lord’s work,” Cisneros said. “The problem is … we need volunteers.” The Friendship Circle has had three head cooks resign last year and no replacements have been found. “If the Circle is going to survive, we need help from the membership,” said Cisneros. “Members need to commit!”

The mission statement of the Friendship Circle reads “a paid membership per household ensures that the Friendship Circle can provide a large meal in a safe place for families to gather during their times of grief. It’s a rewarding program but we must ask that more members step forward and help. A good crew of 10-15 can easily prepare a large meal and clean up the Questa VFW. Our senior and consistent members are limited and need more support. More hands means less work.”

If anyone would like to volunteer with the Friendship Circle, contact Flavio Cisneros at (575) 779-4609 or email flaviocisneros71@yahoo.com. To become a member of the Friendship Circle contact Laveida Cisneros at (575) 586-1112. Membership cost is $25 per year.