By Argen Duncan: PNT Senior Writer
Altrusa, the New Mexico Christian Children’s Home, Portales Women’s Club, Habitat for Humanity, the Roosevelt County Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors — Portales volunteer Gaynelle Thomas has participated in them all, and Tuesday, she was recognized for it.
Thomas was named Workhorse of the Year for her community service and Ambassador of the Year for her participation in the Ambassadors program at chamber of commerce’s annual banquet in the Eastern New Mexico University Campus Union Building.
“I can’t imagine even why such an honor was even bestowed on me,” Thomas said after receiving the Workhorse award.
She added she enjoyed the Ambassadors award, earned by gaining points for participation in the Chamber Ambassadors program, but others were more deserving of the Workhorse honor.
Outgoing chamber board President Sheryl Borden politely disagreed.
“That’s just long overdue,” Borden said of the Workhorse award.
In the many things Thomas does, Borden said, she works in the background.
“She’s not one to be out front in the spotlight; she’s kind of a behind-the-scenes hard worker,” Borden said.
Chamber Executive Director Sharon King said Thomas had worked hard to get the Ambassador program up and going. Borden said Thomas was president and instrumental in starting the group.
The Ambassadors attend and help run events related to the chamber.
Also at the banquet, four local businesses received the Harley and Fay Borden Award for improving the appearance of their buildings’ exteriors.
Dawg Houze Sportz Bar and Package Store, Creighton’s Town and Country, Portales Home Medical Equipment Inc. and Shorty’s Cleaners and Laundry won the recognition.
“We’re just really thankful businesses have invested in their buildings and are trying to make the community more pleasing to customers,” King said.
Borden said all the businesses were deserving and she hoped the honor would inspire other businesses to improve their exteriors as well.
Borden also said last year’s highlights included the formation of the Ambassadors program, the Wolf at the Door marketing workshops and the new Christmas lights on the Roosevelt County Courthouse.
As keynote speaker, cowboy poet Baxter Black told stories and gave a dramatic delivery of several of his poems.
Black also said a small percentage of people do the majority of the work in any community and recognized value of volunteers.
“From the Greek ‘vol,’ meaning ‘to kill oneself,’ and ‘teer,’ meaning ‘without pay,” he joked of the word “volunteer.”
After several poems that left the audience laughing, Black ended with a patriotic poem that honored the American flag and the troops who served the country.