If you don’t want to experience growth and new blessings in your life you would be wise to avoid Gale Landrum. Landrum has a way of stepping back just enough to see the big picture, and then making a difference in the world around her. Roswell has benefited from her dynamic gifts for years now.
“I moved to Roswell in August of 2003,” Landrum said. “My husband had served in the Coast Guard for 23 years and his last station of duty was in Las Cruces. It was close to my parents in Roswell and that was as close as he could get to finish his career. We had been visiting them when my mom called and said there was an advertisement in the Sunday paper that Family Resource and Referral was looking for an administrative director to run Working Mother’s Day Nursery.”
It was as though the position was tailored for her.
“I was the director of a child development center in Las Cruces at the time,” Landrum said. “I contacted them and found out that Del Jurney was the executive director. We had a very nice conversation by phone. I came to Roswell and had a four hour interview with the board of directors. I started in August of 2003.”
Once in place, Landrum started working her magic.
“I made a lot of changes,” she said. “I remember sitting at a picnic table with Mr. Jurney talking about my vision for the future of Working Mother’s Day Nursery. My vision became his vision and we worked side-by-side for five years.”
Family needs took Landrum away from Working Mother’s Day Nursery, however.
“After five years,” she said, “because my mom and dad were getting up in years I decided to resign to spend more time with family.”
The rest was short. Landrum’s drive could not be stopped.
“My husband was serving on the board of the United Way,” she said, “so I got recruited to help with area United Way golf tournaments. I was familiar with it because when we lived in Hawaii I worked for the Army and ran their golf course.”
It would seem that fate took a hand from there.
“At one of the meetings I met the executive director and the CEO of the Red Cross,” Landrum said. “We formed a nice friendship. The second year at the golf tournament she approached me. They wanted me to be the office manager for The Chaves County office. I started working there. In a short time they asked me to become the communications manager for southeastern New Mexico.
“I took that position and was able to get the Roswell office established, with an advisory board made up of community leaders. We were able to start lifeguard classes again. We were able to recruit volunteers. I knew there was some bad blood in the community toward the Red Cross, so my job was to mend that. That worked out really well, I ended up getting a lot of support from past Red Crossers and volunteers.”
When Landrum found out Roswell was the only community in the area without a Real Heroes program, she saw an opportunity to anchor her mending effort.
“I planned it for the following year,” she said. “I got sponsorships. I got out nomination forms. We had a committee that read over all the nominations and one person from each category was chosen to be honored. It was amazing, so we did it again the next year, in between responding to disasters.”
Change is always afoot, and it didn’t take long for Landrum to see whose hand was in this change.
“In October The Red Cross in New Mexico became part of a region based out of Phoenix, Arizona,” she said. “So our main office was out of Phoenix and I’d heard cutbacks were coming. I felt confident with my position and we had acquired a disaster programs specialist that year. We had great working rapport.
“Then, on a Monday morning the CEO told me that they were eliminating all of the community relations positions throughout the state of New Mexico. That was me. They highly suggested that I apply for a Major Giving Officer position. It would have been a major increase in pay, but it would have been a lot of traveling.”
Landrum quickly realized that the hand in that change had been God’s.
“I opted to take the severance package so that I could spend my father’s last months helping my mother take care of him,” she said. “I spent those last months helping care for my father as his health diminished. In June of 2015 my father passed away. I took some time for myself and to be with my mom and help her. My husband was a great help then.”
It didn’t take long before Landrum felt that old familiar stirring.
“In August I was getting restless,” she said. “I had cleaned my closet one too many times.”
An informal family tradition was the conduit for her next opportunity.
“The first thing my husband does every single day is read the Roswell Daily Record,” Landrum said. “He usually ends up reading half of it to me while I’m drinking coffee. He told me the Assurance Home was looking for a child care worker.
“I was familiar with The Assurance Home because when I was administrative director at Working Mother’s Day Nursery, during the summer, the Assurance Home places their residents in jobs. When I was at the Red Cross I was able to get a young lady from the Assurance Home work for me through the summer as my assistant. She was one of the major players in helping me to get the Red Cross Real Heroes program off the ground.”
Landrum knew Ron Malone and many staff members already, she loved the place and what it does for children.
“In the back of my mind I think I’ve always thought ‘I’d love to be at the Assurance Home,’” she said. “When my husband told me that, I ran to the computer and updated my resume, got in my car and flew to the Assurance Home to apply for the job.”
After a year as a child care provider, Landrum saw a chance to make a bigger difference. Then, true to her pattern, a bigger opportunity arose for her.
“In June of 2016 the volunteers that worked at the thrift shop were no longer able to run it,” she said. “I ran upstairs and told Mr. Malone that I wanted to do that. So I worked at the thrift shop during the week and with the kids on weekends. Then in December of last year, Mr. Malone approached me and asked if I would consider becoming the Community Relations Coordinator for the Assurance Home.”
Landrum can be found working at the Assurance Home Thrift Shop at 916 E. McGaffey St., or connecting with people all over Roswell telling them about the organization. In 14 years Landrum has brought about much needed change in Roswell. At this point there is no end in sight.
Features reporter Curtis M. Michaels can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.