By Karl Terry, PNT Managing Editor
A gift from a Portales couple could end up providing a transition home for struggling single mothers and their families.
Through a gift annuity arrangement, Bill and Shirley Wahlman of Portales donated a complete six-apartment complex to the New Mexico Christian Children’s Home last summer. The couple are both retired Portales Municipal School educators. When they made the donation they hoped it could be used in some way to benefit the home’s Single Parent Program in some way.
“We’ve been interested in the home for a long time,” Bill Wahlman said. “We sponsored a boy at the home at one time and we’ve had a close relationship with the people at the home. We were aware of the Single Parent Program and thought they might be able to lodge mothers in the apartments.”
The Wahlmans bought the apartments on 18th Street years ago and used the rental income to supplement their teaching salaries. In recent years the maintenance and upkeep has become more than they wanted to handle, prompting the donation.
NMCCH executive director Charles Anderson said the home recently made the committment to move ahead with refurbishing the apartments to provide housing for single mothers and their families. They currently have five units for the program at the home, located west of Portales.
Besides doubling the capacity of a program that is in high demand, Anderson says having the apartments in town will be more convenient for mothers in the program.
“Right now, because of living so far out, we tell our mothers they have to have transportation (to enter the program),” Anderson said. “We’ve had to turn down a few because of that (requirement).”
Anderson said a majority of the mothers in the program come from eastern New Mexico but placements through contacts with churches and other professionals bring families from all over the country into Portales to get their lives back on track.
Anderson says putting those family’s lives in order often entails a mother working on a college degree or other job training, a transition which can take up to four years depending on the plan worked out with their case worker.
“We’ve had a lot of successes with it and we’re proud of our parents who’ve been in the program,” Anderson said. “They’re successful and out there contributing to society now.”
Currently the program is serving five familes. Anderson says while the home has offered assistance to mothers for more than the 36 years he’s been at NMCCH, the program was formally organized in 1985. Since that time he figures close to 70 familes have come through the program.
Anderson says the plan is to remodel the units slowly as they come available and begin utilizing them in the program as they’re renovated.
He acknowledges that NMCCH is taking a leap of faith with the expansion. He said money to start the remodels has been secured but more funding to complete the remodeling and for the recurring expense of utilities and maintenance of the new apartments is being sought. He estimates an additional $3,000 a month will be needed.
New Mexico Christian Children’s Home Single Parent Program
What: Serves single mothers and their families with support for getting back on their feet with job and home life.
Help needed: One-time or continuining donations to support utility and maintenance cost of providing housing for families in the program
Contact: Charles Anderson 356-5372 or online: