Cannon airmen pitch in to help Portales Baptist Children’s Home

By Gabriel Monte, Freedom New Mexico

With a handful of staff members including house parents, there aren’t enough people to perform regular maintenance needed on about 12 buildings at the Portales Baptist Children’s Home, according to Program Director Dent McGill.

And there certainly isn’t enough time and people to convert a laundry room into a machine shop for the children, he said.

He said that’s why volunteers from Cannon Air Force Base are essential at the temporary home, which houses more than 20 children and youths.

“This is helping me quite a bit,” he said. “We don’t have maintenance personnel.”

In the last 18 months, McGill said Cannon volunteers have replaced doors, repaired roofs, rebuilt the playground and painted.

McGill said Saturday the children’s home acquired a used motorcycle, which will be a project for the children to turn into a tricycle as an exhibit for next year’s county fair.

“That’s our goal, but we need a place to bring it in and lock it up,” he said.

Aside from working on the machine shop Saturday, a work crew of eight Cannon airmen performed home improvement projects on different parts of the children’s home. The projects ranged from cleaning out spaces, repairing roofs and mowing and weeding.

Volunteer efforts through the Cannon Air Force Base Chapel at the children’s home started two years ago, said Lt. John Simmons of the Civil Engineering Squadron, who is organizing the volunteer effort.

He said the volunteer effort is organized by the Catholic and Protestant chaplains, but volunteers are accepted from the entire base.

He said airmen volunteer every other week and perform fix-up work and whatever maintenance is needed at the children’s home.

Simmons said volunteers have numbered up to 25.

“We have had a few civilians, but the volunteer groups mostly consist of airmen,” he said.