Local individuals work to make positive impact amid COVID-19

A bin of food left next to a mailbox stand in Corrales. Residents are watching out for one another and helping those in need. (Photo courtesy of Siobhan Hadley)

By Eduardo Naranjo / NM News Port 

As COVID-19 continues to spread in New Mexico and residents try to adjust to a new way of life, community members are doing what they can to help others.

“Everyone should have a mask, it’s what we have to reduce the spread,” Jenny Nguyen, owner and manager of Princess Spa and Nails, said. “I want to do something for someone, that’s just how I am.”  

Since closing her salon shortly before Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham issued a stay at home order on March 23, Nguyen has been making and distributing free homemade masks.   

Nyugen set up a cart in front of Comanche Elementary School. People can drive by and pick up bags that include masks, gloves and other goods. (Photo courtesy of Jenny Nguyen)

With money and material donations coming from the community, Nguyen has been able to provide masks to everyone who needs one. She spends countless hours working on them, finding herself working until 2 a.m. some days. 

“Seeing how much people appreciate what I’m able to give to them makes me happy,” Nguyen said. “I try to help out with all the essential workers, elderly people and whoever needs it.”

Face masks have been hard to come by due to the urgent need from healthcare workers, as hospitals across the country face personal protective equipment shortages. 

Nguyen has constantly been finding new ways to make her masks, despite a lack of material such as elastic bands, and to improve the quality of the masks. 

Nguyen is planning to make protective face masks, which she’ll donate to local hospitals. 

Retired special force operator William Collins has been helping people who have lost their homes by giving them shelter on his property. Collins has a piece of land just outside of Albuquerque where he takes people in to camp out if they are left homeless.   

“I’m in a position where I can help others, so I use that to my advantage by helping others,” Collins said.

In addition, he is offering meals and essential supplies, all in which is coming from his own pocket. 

“I want to help those who become homeless until this virus thing is over, with a place to sleep and food the best I can do,” Collins said. 

Communities like the village of Corrales are coming together and making small gestures to improve people’s moods. 

An example of the rainbow art being made in Corrales. (Photo courtesy of The Rainbow Trail Corrales, NM on Facebook)

Throughout Corrales, colorful rainbow art appears on the side of the road and in windows. Corrales Mayor Jo Anne Roake noticed this trend happening in places like Italy and New York City.   

“The hope is that as you go around you will see a rainbow to lift people’s spirits, put a smile on people’s faces…When you smile your mood picks up,” Roake said.  

Roake told one community member about the rainbows she saw people putting up in different parts of the world, and explained how she wanted the community to take part in it to demonstrate that they are all in this together. From there, the community took action and started to create rainbow art with words of encouragement. 

A bin of food left next to a mailbox stand in Corrales. Residents are watching out for one another and helping those in need. (Photo courtesy of Siobhan Hadley)

This trend has been dubbed “The Rainbow Trail” and can be found on Facebook.

At a mailbox stand in Corrales, an unknown individual left a bin with food and a label reading “Take what you need. Leave the rest. Donate what you can. Stay healthy.” 

We can’t underestimate the acts of random kindness,” Roake said. 

Eduardo Naranjo is a reporter for the New Mexico News Port. He can be contacted on Twitter @Eduardonaranjo or at nmnewsport@gmail.com.