By Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer
The doors opened Tuesday to the Bonem House in Portales giving neglected and abused children, who otherwise have no place to go, a place to call home.
The facility will house four boys and four girls between the ages of 7 and 12. David William Bonem, retired 9th Judicial District judge, credited Roosevelt County, Children Family Youth and Services and TeamBuilders officials for the youth-shelter idea becoming a reality.
“My wife (Merriellen) and I had a dream, but without those entities to invest, it was just a dream and not reality,” Bonem told a crowd during the grand opening Tuesday.
Don Holden, officer for Children, Youth and Families Department in Portales, went before the Roosevelt County commissioners asking for money towards a youth shelter three years ago. Holden said he worked with Donna Mowrer, senior prosecutor for the 9th Judicial District and Delores Penrod, former Community Services Director to find a way to build a youth shelter in Portales.
“We got together because we had kids placed all over the state,” Holden said. “We (court system officials) were sending kids to Tucumcari. Everything we (Bonem and Holden) worked with dealt with children.”
Bonem said the long distances kept Portales family members from being able to visit their children. Children from Roosevelt and Curry will be the first priority for the youth shelter.
“I made it a keystone to see a shelter home to provide for these children,” Bonem said. “I had that vision and it is a vision my wife shared in.”
TeamBuilders staff will watch over the children 24 hours a day. There are four bedrooms, a dining area, kitchen and lounge area. The fenced area behind the Bonem House will have playground equipment.
Bonem said he and Merriellen live nearby the Bonem House and will take volunteer-training classes so they can be Bonem House volunteers.
“As a child, I admired and continued to admire Bill Bonem,” Matt Chandler, 9th Judicial District attorney, said. “I admired him as a father figure … TeamBuilders has guaranteed that we can continue to admire judge Bonem.”
Shannon Freedle said he and his wife, Lorraine, began TeamBuilders 10 years ago. Now, TeamBuilders has 200 employees helping more than 300 children in Curry, De Baca, Guadalupe, Harding, Lincoln, San Miguel, Santa Fe, Quay and Roosevelt counties with family services.
Tony Bustos, regional director for TeamBuilders, will work with Alfredo Lujan, program coordinator and TeamBuilders staff to take care of the children.
The Bonem House takes donations to pay for books, board games, playground equipment and other items.