On April 2, 2022, the culmination of creativity and collaborative partnership blossomed at Calhoun Flower Farms, celebrating five exemplary women in honor of Women’s History Month. Nominations poured in throughout March, recognizing women in our community who “Promote Hope and Provide Healing.” The SUCCESS Partnership’s work is rooted in creating opportunities where resources are shared to accomplish the common goals of uniting and uplifting this community. The collaboration that went into this project is a beautiful example of precisely that.
The SUCCESS Partnership managed all of the nominations and formed a committee to select the five winners. It was no easy feat, as all the women nominated earned their place for their stories to be shared and their efforts proudly celebrated. Ngage New Mexico and the Doña Ana Early Childhood Education Coalition helped fund the project. NMCO Studio organized and staffed the stylized photoshoot. Calhoun Farms offered their beautiful space. Myra Rommes, the onset stylist, helped each woman complete her look, and Prados Beauty pampered the nominees with facials and full makeup with inspiring accents of color.
Prados owner Cece Meadow said, “I think it’s important to highlight women, especially in smaller communities, because women do things in the background that don’t get acknowledged. They just move in these matriarchal ways, so when you highlight women and bring their story forward, I think that is powerful.”
At the 10×25 Creativity Conference in October 2021, NMCO Studio shared some of their projects, including a previous WHM video. Sommer Mitchell, communications coordinator with SUCCESS Partnership, reflects,
“I had to know more about it, and I just wanted to be involved with the project. I connected with Tina Ballew (creative director of NMCO Studio) and started talking about ways we could partner,” Mitchell said.
Meanwhile, Michelle Simon, marketing coordinator with SUCCESS Partnership, created a campaign to nominate and celebrate “Local Heroines” in line with this year’s WHM theme of promoting hope and providing healing.
“My goal with this campaign was to recognize and celebrate the women working tirelessly to bring hope and healing to our community,” Simon said. “I think Las Cruces is a very special place in that the people here care SO genuinely for their community. Having lived in a big city, it often felt hard to gain enough traction to make impactful changes to benefit the community. In Las Cruces, it seems more doable with the united work of so many great organizations.”
Merging the social campaign with the photoshoot proved a natural coupling. It only took one meeting for all the creatives to develop a brand, mood and theme for this year’s Women’s History Month photoshoot. Simon started the social campaign with images of eucalyptus and neutral tones.
“We were immediately inspired by the idea of hope and healing and came up with an aesthetic that was earthy and subtle yet powerful in the confidence we portrayed with each model,” Mitchell said.
“Calhoun Farms was the perfect spot as they hadn’t quite had their spring growth except for a couple of rows of daffodils. It lent to the narrative of hope, growth, and mother nature,” said Tina Ballew. “It all came together almost effortlessly like it was meant to be,” adds Sommer Mitchell.
Raising awareness for these esteemed women provided an influx of appreciation and encouragement to fuel their fantastic work, nourishing this community. The women spoke to the uplifting nature of this experience in their comments.
The women who were selected for the photo shoot included:
dr Martha Morales, Ph.D., a retired School of Nursing Professor at New Mexico State University: “Well, this nomination really surprised me, I feel honored to have received the award for work that I love doing. It’s no effort for me to work with expecting families, especially the ones having their first babies, and I feel like it plants the seed early in life to help parents work together in raising their firstborn.”
Chantelle Yazzie-Martin is a local social worker, photographer, and artist who advocates for LGBTQ+ and Indigenous rights: “I feel like social workers do a lot of behind-the-scenes work, and we don’t really ever think of ourselves as having to be in the forefront for getting any credit. We can’t share a lot of the efforts that go on behind the scenes as a provider to a client; late nights and early mornings. It’s an honor to know that those efforts are recognized, especially by community members, so whoever nominated me, thank you so much.”
Jane Bloom is a yoga instructor and owner of Dwell Yoga: “I’m really honored, and also being nominated among so many other strong community leaders and women and indigenous women in this community means so much to me to be a part of this.”
Daisy Maldonado, Director of Empowerment Congress: “Wow, it’s such an honor, I wake up every day and go to work, and I am really dedicated to the mission, so I feel very honored to be recognized for that work. I feel very blessed to do this work, so being recognized for it is nice.”
Heidi Vacio-Teixeira & Angelica Vacio-Teixeira, Founders of Heidi’s Helping Hands, started when Heidi was just seven years old (now 11): “It is rewarding to know that others are watching you and looking at your work. When we do the work that we do, we aren’t really thinking about who’s watching. You don’t think about those things, so to be notified that we were nominated as local heroines is very rewarding.”
Watch the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l3BKJAAOoXg.