We will turn around this threatened community.

Here’s why.

Just now. I’m lecturing. The kids are interacting. A man walks in, and he looks official.

I used “shit” a few times in the previous classes. He opens a laptop and sits on a chair beside my desk. I think I might be in trouble. But that’s my normal hypervigilance. I read the intro to Catcher, including the swear words figuring it’s okay because they’re in the book.

I conclude my 15-minute lecture. One kid thanks me for teaching them and “getting us to think” The class claps. I put my right hand on my heart as a way of thanks.

I sit at the desk next to the man. He says he’s the special ed teacher and comes in for students needing help. I tell the students, “You have free help here, guys, take advantage of it.”

We get to talking. I tell my story about why I’m in Espanola. That I care.

“Weren’t you at The Rock church yesterday?”

Yesterday I visited the famous El Santuario de Chimayó — the world reknown site with the holy dirt. On the drive back to Abiquiu had to pass thorugh Espanola. Saw a bunch of cars parked on the main street. Wondered what was going on. And wondered what a chruch in this city would be like. Walked in for attended the remainder of the service.

We talk about their work in this troubled place. I share about my work in nonprofit, why I’m teaching here, that I want to help if I can. He says he’s on the nonprofit board discussed in the LA Times piece, Can this town save itself from fentanyl addiction? The race to turn around a threatened community.

He says they are the first homeless shelter (ever) in Espanola. “How could this city of known for its crime and drug use have no homeless shelter until now?

He says he was the former County Commissioner of Rio Arriba.

He wants to introduce me to the shelter director.

He wants me to meet with the church pastor, which has a program for addicts, a shelter, a pantry, etc.

He sat just two feet from me. I didn’t have to go to him. He came to me.

We will turn around this threatened community.