The Awesome Awards - Nominations

Leona Hillary

Nominated by Anastasia Maestas
July 17, 2019
I would like to nominate Leona Hillary for the Awesome Award. I met Leona back in 2009 when I was about 14 years old at the Boys and Girls Club of Del Norte. Leona was talking with a group of teenagers that were volunteering at Boys and Girls Club. She was asking if there was any type of program for teenagers like us. At the time there was not. We started talking about possibly starting a Teen Center in our small Northern New Mexico town known as Abiquiu. We started meeting at a small donated piece of land that was covered in weeds. As the summer passed and winter came, we were still meeting and jotting down our big dreams of one day having a building to call ours. As time passed, we turned our small piece of land into a small community garden with a shed, mural wall and basketball court. The teens of Abiquiu had a place to go, keep busy, and learn. Leona has dedicated a large amount of time to make dreams come true. She would drive to each house of any teen that wanted to participate to pick them up for meetings or events with Northern Youth Project. She would spend her own hard-earned money to feed us and take us on trips to see other gardens. She has turned around the graduation numbers, teen pregnancies and overall lives of the teenagers of Northern New Mexico. Northern New Mexico has a high drug rate and she is helping combat the epidemic by reaching the teens and giving them a chance to express themselves through art, music and many other outlets they want. Leona has gained the respect of the community by teaching teens traditions of different types of gardening to include, irrigating through the acequia, waffle bed and drip irrigation system. I am thankful for having this program while growing up, it has given me the inspiration to get my degree and make something of myself. The program has grown each year and it all started with Leona never giving up on the big dreams of a group of 6 teenagers sitting in weeds back in 2009. Thank you, Leona, for everything you have done and continue doing for our teens and community!