Amarah's Corner: Roger Montoya, a CNN Hero

Jesus said in Matthew 25:40 (KJV), “Whatever you’ve done unto the least of these (kids),

you’ve done it unto me.”

I was honored to meet Roger Montoya, and Salvador Ruiz, at Moving Arts Espanola, about two weeks ago. What an amazing experience. Montoya is a true Hero (they’re both Heroes)! I listed a link at the end of this column for you to witness the life-changing difference Montoya makes in the lives of children who are Blessed to enroll in, Moving Arts Espanola.

Roger Montoya, CNN Hero, 2019:

I am honored and humbled by my selection as a 2019 CNN Hero, particularly in that it highlights Moving Arts Española (MAE) and the complexity of my beautiful community.

However, this recognition is not about me, but those that have preceded me and that will follow, and especially those that rise up every day and take action with courageous dedication, against great obstacles, to improve the world. I am surrounded by heroes, and if I shine it is only because of the brilliance of the ‘we’ that reflects onto ‘me.’

I think of all of my ancestors that came before me, of people like my grandmother, Demetria Roybal, who nourished her Native-Hispano village of Peñasco against the backdrop of the great depression and ongoing economic distress. I think of all those men and women whose everyday work, though invisible, nurtured their environment, cultivated the land, and raised children with the core values of their ancestors.

I think of my family, individuals like my mother, Dorotea (“Dottie”) Montoya, who nurtured four generations of young people at the Española Valley High School, becoming the mother of “School Based Wellness” in New Mexico.

I am grateful for all of the people of the Española Valley. When I see 600 of them turn out for a student performance, I know that the entire community is united in our love for our children. They are Native, Sikh, Hispanic, Mexican, Anglo, and come from diverse cultures, and spiritual beliefs. They represent all ages and cross multiple generations. They may appear different, but every day we work together to support our children, regardless of the color of their skin, their country of origin, their religious and spiritual beliefs, their politics, their gender or gender identity, or their sexuality or sexual orientation.

We are privileged to work in and upon the ancient lands that have been stewarded by tribal communities, including the Pueblo of Ohkay Owingeh, which has allowed us to lease a space and reimagine it for the health and vibrancy of all those that move beautifully in it.

Just as no single individual creates alone, MAE is successful because of our community partners. We work with government, businesses, foundations, schools and universities because we must. Our work is catalyzed by donations, large and small, allowing every child to participate regardless of income.

My gratitude extends to my partner, Sal Ruiz, Executive Director, and the Staff of MAE, whose unwavering dedication moves the organization forward. I think especially of our teaching artists, who are the backbone of the work we do, even though they struggle to make ends meet. I think of our Board of Directors who resource time, energy and finances, to insure we succeed.

I think of all the parents who believe in the potential of their children to rise, no matter how many times they fall, who selflessly take on any task we need.

Above all, I think of the youth. Every one of them has a story worth telling. I think of Alandra, who came to us with a serious disability at 4 years old, unable to walk or even communicate fully. Through her hard work, she is now an accomplished Folklorico and Flamenco dancer at 16, and a very vocal MC when handed a microphone.

These are MY heroes and every single day they inspire me to try to spark a little compassion for one another. The challenges we face are great, but I truly believe that when we come together, our love, compassion, and creativity can spread to all of humanity. ~Roger Montoya, Moving Arts Espanola.

Mr. Montoya, You are a HERO to me and Kids Like Me.

Example # 1: Alandra

Alandra’s story is the perfect example of what happens when a Hero supports/encourages a child’s passion! Thank God Alandra found her way to You/Moving Arts Espanola. I can just imagine her spirit coming to life in the beauty of Moving Arts Espanola.

Example # 2: Than Povi

CNN Heroes: Pueblo Ballerina

Few Native Americans reach elite levels of ballet. Meet, Than Povi, who got her start at CNN Hero Roger Montoya’s center and is now following her passion from the Pueblo to one of the country’s top ballet programs (in Chicago)! CNN.

Copy/paste the link below into your browser:

Remember, Jesus Loves You and JESUS IS LORD!