The Vida Del Norte Coalition’s purpose is to help our northern New Mexico community celebrate LIFE! Our committed coalition members and staff do this by creating events, educating the public, changing policy, and creating awareness to reduce the negative impacts of misuse of alcohol and other drugs. We know, without a doubt, that we can live better with less alcohol and drug use.
Here are some of the highlights of 2021. Please join us as we create more good health and fun in 2022!
January: We started the year by hosting a virtual retreat attended by coalition members and others from our community. State Representative Kristina Ortez opened the retreat and joined us in training about vaping. All were surprised and saddened to learn that every vape contains nicotine and other harmful chemicals that pose real health threats to us and our children.
February: We met with Mayor Linda Calhoun of Red River and the former Marshal Tim Boren to discuss collaboration between Vida and the Red River community. We were invited to present information to the Red River Council as well as the Questa Village Council. (Red River has since hired a new Marshal, James Johnson, and we are looking forward to meeting with him in the near future.)
These presentations shared data about our middle and high school students’ use of alcohol and other drugs. We also announced our partnership with Taos Alive, Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, the Town of Taos, and several other organizations, to launch the “Refuse to Provide Alcohol to Minors” campaign on Memorial Day weekend.
March: Vida began a Healthy Heroes campaign by setting up a Saint Patrick’s Day scavenger hunt that got families outdoors together, exploring our roads, woods, and parks. We were happy to encourage young and older community members to interact in a fun way without drugs or alcohol.
April: Continuing our Healthy Heroes campaign, many parents and grandparents brought their little ones to a socially distanced egg hunt. We also began to discuss Community Connection days where our youth would lead cleanup days at our park and other public places. places. These Community Connection days took place monthly through October and were a collaborative effort with LEAP and other community organizations.
May: Our community suffered a tragic loss by losing one of our coalition members, Enriquetta Vigil. With this loss we took a stand and decided to say, “When is enough ENOUGH?” In response, we decided it was time to host our own Town Hall meeting to discuss and inform the community about the harsh realities of drinking and driving and the effects it has on our families and communities. We also launched our Refuse to Provide campaign with very visible banners hosted by our town’s alcohol sellers and covered barricades at both ends of Questa, the farmers market site, and the Vida office.
June & July: Vida hosted the Town Hall meeting where Mayors Mark Gallegos and Linda Calhoun, Representative Kristina Ortez, and many community members talked about their experiences with alcohol and how it has affected their lives. Vida welcomed MaKayla Martinez and Juancarlos Ramirez as the first two summer interns. We also collaborated with Localogy and Taos Behavioral Health to provide a three-week summer camp for the youth of our community, attended by a whopping 54 kids! We began our free, outdoor Family Movie Nights and our Teen Nights, both providing safe places for youth to hang out. These continued throughout the summer and early fall.
August: Vida hosted the first ever Kids Matter Music Fest—an all-day outdoor celebration, highlighted by the Questa Schools’ Mariachi students. The fancy, non-alcoholic mocktails created by the Active8 youth coalition members were a big hit. This event continued to move our environmental norms towards big fun without alcohol and drugs. At the kids backpack/school supply giveaway, co-sponsored with the faith-based community, everyone received great information about avoiding alcohol and drug use. Vida surveyed parents there and at the school welcomed our new superintendent, Mr. John Maldonado. We learned that almost everyone had noticed the Refuse to Provide banners and that about one-third of those parents had changed an alcohol-related behavior as a result.
September: Vida wrapped up our summer and ended our fiscal period for our grant, and looked at changes we will make for next summer’s Music Fest, and plans for the year to come.
October: We celebrated Red Ribbon Week with a mesmerizing guest speaker, Fabien Ramirez, as kickoff, and ended the week with the National Guard bringing a rock-climbing wall and an obstacle course for the elementary students.
December: Vida partnered with the Village of Questa to organize the Evening of Lights celebration. In addition to Santa, posole, red chile stew, lighting of the Christmas tree, and inspiring words from Mayor Mark Gallegos and community members, we were dazzled and delighted by the fabulous holiday lights parade. Big gratitude to all the float-makers for starting off this new tradition in such great style!
All year long, Vida Del Norte also continues to encourage our community to have fun without drugs and alcohol. Be a supporter by tagging us as you make holiday mocktails, with the hashtag #questalibations, for a chance to win a gift certificate.
Vida welcomes all members of our northern New Mexico community to join the fun as we become healthier and happier. Please come to our January Coalition Retreat on January 22 from 10 am to 2 pm. Please contact Maria Gonzalez at (575) 779-2260 for more information or visit our website for updates. https://vidadelnorte.com/