In keeping with its motto SERvice TO MAnkind, the Roswell Sertoma Club presents an award annually to a non-Sertoman who has made a significant contribution to the betterment of mankind in the community. This year, the 2018 Service to Mankind Award recipient is Missy Holman.
A Roswell native, Holman is the mother of a little girl, Addie, who was born with Down syndrome. Prior to Addie’s birth, Holman knew very little about Down syndrome. She had no idea what life would be like for those with Down syndrome or their families. She knew only one child with Down syndrome.
So, after learning of the diagnosis, the first call Holman made was to her friend, the mother of a 10-year-old boy with Down syndrome. Going to this source to learn all she could from a mother who had walked this road would give her life a new purpose.
In 2007, a year after Addie’s birth, these two mothers founded the Down Syndrome Foundation of Southeastern New Mexico (DSFSENM) the first nonprofit in New Mexico to advocate and support those with Down syndrome and their families. To finance the foundation, they began the annual Buddy Walk, a nationwide advocacy for Down syndrome, and started a parent support group at the Roswell Library.
Ninety-eight participants entered the first year the Buddy Walk was held in Roswell. Three years later, over 500 people had participated in the event and by 2016 the SENM Buddy Walk had gained national recognition and had over 1,000 walkers from all over New Mexico and west Texas.
The walk has generated more than $50,000 to continue the work of the DSFSENM. Within its first three years, Holman was named the executive director of the DSFSENM. As such, she established programs and secured funding through donations, grants and fundraising events. These included a reading program created by the Down Syndrome Foundation of Orange County in California, cooking classes for young adults with Down syndrome in Roswell and Artesia, a medical outreach program, mentor small groups in Albuquerque and Las Cruces to help establish foundations in those areas, and served on the board of the ARC of New Mexico. Under Holman’s leadership, the DSFSENM began offering scholarships for families to attend disability workshops and conferences, and hosting annual educational workshops for teachers and therapists in southeastern New Mexico.
The educational workshop reached 29 school districts in SENM and brought nationally known specialists and self-advocates (those with Down syndrome) in as keynote speakers. The DSFSENM was awarded the CHISPA* award by the New Mexico Community Foundation and was the first Down syndrome organization to receive the Globe Down Syndrome grant of $10,000 twice.
In 2016, Holman retired as the executive director of the DSFSENM and is now alongside her husband running their architecture and interior design business. She also is busy with church and volunteering where needed. Her efforts in bringing attention to — and means of coping with — Down syndrome have had a profound and lasting impact on the Roswell community and all of southeast New Mexico.
*CHISPA Foundation is an Arizona organization dedicated to educating and instilling an appreciation, understanding and pride of the Latino cultural heritage.