Penny and Sandy Davis started Seed2Need in 2008 and now grow and distribute 25 tons of produce annually. Photograph by Gabriella Marks. 

WITH SO MUCH ABOUT OUR LIVES disrupted over the past year, it would be easy to focus on what we’ve lost. And we’ve lost plenty—the simple comforts of our daily routines are disrupted, the economy is suffering, and many have faced the unfathomable loss of family, friends, and neighbors.

None of it has been easy. Yet as we were putting this issue together, I found plenty of encouragement as well. One of the first projects we launched after I started in March was New Mexico Magazine True Heroes, a weekly online recognition of regular folks stepping up in this time of crisis. School employees delivering lessons and food to students, businesses donating lunches to essential workers, neighbors gathering supplies for those in need. 

When we decided to extend the program into an annual award, the response was tremendous. From the more than 100 nominations, a panel of judges helped to select the 10 True Heroes featured in this issue and in a New Mexico Magazine Facebook Live tribute, hosted by KOB4, at 7 p.m. on November 12.

It’s humbling to consider the sacrifices of Dr. Francisco Crespin, who spent a career caring for underserved communities. Or the dedication of Hobbs’s Wilma Brooks, the second-longest-serving teacher in the state, whose lessons go well beyond the classroom. 

I’m inspired by all of this year’s honorees. But I also keep thinking about a quote from Barbara Kim, who co-founded the mask-making Blue Mask Group in Las Cruces and has long served homeless individuals and refugees. 

“For much of my life, there hasn’t been much I could do to help,” she says. “But I could show up with fruit. I could blow bubbles for kids. And then I could make masks.”  

To me, her words are a reminder: Even in the face of world-altering events, the efforts of a single individual can have a major impact. Sometimes it’s the smallest of things that creates major change. 

As devastating as the pandemic’s spread has been, it also confirms just how connected we really are to our next-door neighbors and to people all over the world.

In the face of so much loss and uncertainty, I hope that we can also recognize what we have gained and know that there are plenty of New Mexicans we can count on when we need them most.