New Mexico Distinguished Public Service Awards 2012
Recognizing Those Committed to Making a Difference
Leo Mendoza
Leo Mendoza has lived his entire life in the northern corner of Socorro County, taking on the unofficial role of steward for the rural community, particularly in watching out for its eldest and youngest residents. Mr. Mendoza has spent countless hours as a volunteer on various projects associated with children as a 42-year member of the board of directors for New Mexico Boys and Girls Ranches, Inc. He has proven to be a tireless and effective advocate for the local area. In the late 1990s, Mr. Mendoza helped the county obtain land for the Las Nutrias Senior Center, the Veguita Fire Substation, and for the future site of a health clinic, by convincing the ranches to donate 40 acres of land on Hwy. 34 on the north edge of the property; he continues to serve as a liaison between the organization and community residents.”

It was Leo Mendoza who over the decades has faithfully attended meetings of the Socorro County Commission to articulate to members the unique issues facing “the north.” He lobbied for a new senior citizens center and helped secure funding for La Promesa, an elementary school, working with State Rep. Don Tripp on funding for a computer room and equipment. Las Nutrias had been without a school for 36 years before Leo got involved. He’s now working on finding funding for the proposed health clinic, which would be a boon to the residents of the isolated villages in that corner of the county.

Mr. Mendoza was instrumental, with the pastor of Las Nutrias Church, to acquire the school property in Las Nutrias and convert it into a Parish Community Center – and he was able to get all the materials and landscaping donated. His volunteer work began with the elderly, then the children; and now, the sick and those that cannot afford health insurance. For Leo, it’s always been about lending a helping hand to the disenfranchised, the needy, and those unable to speak for themselves.

“Leo has proven to be an amazing person,” wrote Michael H. Kull, president of New Mexico Boys and Girls Ranches. “He loves his state and his community, and has worked relentlessly to make things better for everyone. … Leo has always been the force that kept things going, and that refused to ever give up. New Mexico and the quality of life in northern Socorro County are immeasurably better because of him.