ENRIQUE MACIAS MORENO CAN’T FORGET THE HELP his family received from the community’s food bank when he was growing up on a ranch in Hagerman, on the outskirts of Roswell. As an adult, he’s turned his life’s work into giving back to those around him.
Moreno founded Roswell Community Disaster Relief to assist people who need immediate help. While large, national relief and charitable organizations can take days to get the gears moving, Moreno arrives in a flash. “My time frame to show up to an emergency is about 15 minutes,” he says.
Serving Roswell and Chaves County, Moreno works with volunteers to distribute food, supplies, and first aid to those experiencing homelessness or displaced by disasters. In the winter, he patrols at night to hand out gloves, jackets, warm meals, and hot drinks. In addition, he gives school supplies to students and checks in on the elderly to ensure they have blankets, firewood, and heating or air conditioning. In the past year alone, Roswell Community Disaster Relief, which uses 100 percent of its funding for charitable work, has given food and supplies to more than 240 low-income seniors and families.
Moreno’s parents immigrated from Mexico. “My dad worked on a farm where he was making $4.25 an hour, with five kids and a wife,” he recalls.
As a high school senior, Moreno organized a group of students to repair the deteriorating Hagerman Historical Museum. Soon the community got involved, and when renovations were complete, the Hagerman High School reunion was held there.
After a stint in Missouri as a boat-lift builder, Moreno returned to the Roswell area, began working as a security guard, and served as a Hagerman volunteer firefighter before becoming a government investigator. He also began working out of his Ford Explorer to help people in need. After receiving donations, he founded Chaves County Disaster Relief in 2017; he renamed it Roswell Community Disaster Relief two years later.
As the charity grew, Moreno needed a bigger vehicle. In 2020, he raised money to purchase a prison transport bus for $1,000 and transform it into a mobile food bank. “I’ve spent the better part of two years working on it,” he says. Since January, the organization has assisted 32 households affected by the summer’s devastating Chaves County floods, helped with cleanup after the McBride Fire in Ruidoso, distributed 25 tons of food, and handed out supplies to almost 1,000 people without homes.
Roswell resident Christina Lucero heard about Moreno’s work through her cousins, who had been impacted by the August floods. Lucero approached Moreno to help find a motorized wheelchair for her 17-year-old daughter, who lives with disabilities. As fate would have it, Moreno had a wheelchair he’d planned to raffle off for fundraising, and it fit her needs. “He said, ‘She needs it more than anything,’ ” Lucero says. “And he gave it to her.”
“I’ve made many sacrifices in my personal life to be able to do this,” says Moreno. But the impact he’s had on his community is more than worth it.