Volunteer of the Year Helps People Experiencing Homelessness

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico’s (BCBSNM) annual Volunteer of the Year award celebrates a BCBSNM employee who makes a difference in their community. In 2019, Lenora Salas Blackbird, a pharmacy operations representative at BCBSNM, was recognized for her volunteer work helping people experiencing homelessness. On Saturday nights, Lenora volunteers with Hellfighters Soul Snatchers Unit, a motorcycle ministry that provides food, clothing and shelter to about 500 homeless people each weekend in Albuquerque.

“Seeing a child’s face light up when we hand out coats and toys at Christmas time, giving hot soup and a blanket to someone in 30-degree weather, watching a family move into their first apartment after being on the streets for years, and sharing these amazing stories with my family make it all worthwhile,” said Lenora.

Show Transcript

LENORA BLACKBIRD: Volunteering is important because we allow a part of us to be an influence on our community. I am part of the Hell Fighters and it is a motorcycle ministry. We have been doing Mercy After Dark here in Albuquerque, New Mexico for 7 years every Saturday night together it is something that has truly touched my heart.  A typical night we are feeding about 450 to 500 people we usually go until 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning. We try to hit every person that we see. We ask if they want food and everyone gets food. When we come up and hand someone a meal and a hot soup. We take that timeout to really show them the compassion and the love that they have for them regardless of who they are. It really brings a deep meaning to the person who is doing that.  We can talk about volunteering all we want but when you are out there, actually doing it is such a different feeling to be able to be a positive light in someone’s life. 

RAYMOND GALLEGOSLenora has her own specific route that she runs. It is actually three routes that we run here in the Albuquerque area. She takes on her route and she is the leader for that route, she is responsible for all of the volunteers for the vehicle making sure they stay on time and stay on track and making sure that all of the supplies in the van are met and staying in constant communication with the other 2 teams as well. Making sure that we all know everyone is at. Just the pure passion and caring for the homeless people that are on our streets, you can really tell. I sure that it translates to her normal job every day. 

DOUG ANAYA: She is having been amazing and that is one of the reasons why I decided to also nominate her. I know there was numerous nominations, but she does so much for our community. 

KURT SHIPLEY: I am here today to award the 2019 Volunteer of the Year award to Lenora.  

LENORA BLACKBIRD:  It has given me this amazing sense of purpose to be able to go and help and try to be a positive change in someone’s life and I love that.