Getting to know: Retiree devotes time to Dream Center

Gail Keener, 68, is a resident of Pep who regularly drives 25 miles to Portales for work with the Dream Center.

The main task for that charitable group right now is to erect a new building for itself, at 222 N. Main. The old structure’s roof was torn off by high winds in April.

The Dream Center was the brainchild of former Victory Life pastor David Markham, who has since moved from Portales.

Married to Buster Keener for 52 years, Gail has three daughters: Vickie Cantwell of Portales, Ginger Smith of Portales and Beverly Reel of St. Louis.

How did you end up working with the Dream Center?

David came up with the idea and asked if anybody in the church was interested in volunteering. I had just retired from my job a few months before and I had always enjoyed doing things for people.

What does the Dream Center do?

We give away food, clothing, furniture and household items to people who are having a little bit of a rough time making ends meet.

Where is the stuff you had stored at the building, or did you just give it away?

We gave it all away. We opened up the doors after the roof blew off and just said, “Come and get it.” We left everybody get what they wanted and we had a lot left. We gave that to a couple of places in Clovis and a place in Artesia.

When do you hope to reopen?

As soon as we get the (construction) bids in. We’ve got the insurance money in, but we’re about $10,000 short to put up a really nice building. Probably, pretty soon, we’re going to start asking for donations. Early Fall, we’re hoping to get it back up and running.

How many people can call themselves residents of Pep?

We’ll let’s see, there’s four or five in that family, four or five in the other family and there’s three of us. So I guess that’s 12 to 15. We call ourselves the Pep Southwest Oldtimers Association. I love it out here with the peace and quiet.

Have you ever thought about moving to Portales?

Oh, we’ve thought about it a time or two, but we back out of it pretty quick.

Do you have farm animals out at your house?

Not now. We used to raise hogs; at one time we had over 700 hogs. But we’re too old for that now. we don’t even have a dog or a cat, so we can take off and go if we want to go somewhere.

— Compiled by PNT staff writer Eric Butler