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Honoree McVay Tellez seeks to instill hope

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The Leadership Roswell Alumni Association presents awards to outstanding community members each year, with recipients nominated by area residents and chosen by a selection committee. The Roswell Daily Record will run an article on each of the four award winners in the coming days.

Amy McVay Tellez, 2021 Commitment to Youth award recipient (Submitted Photo)

Roswell native Amy McVay Tellez believes that her mission each day is build a brighter future for others.

Whether working to preserve the legacies of the past as the executive director of the Historical Society for Southeast New Mexico, or helping to direct Character Counts! of Chaves County as a member of its board of directors, or volunteering for other community projects, she said that she believes in connecting community members so that they can improve their own lives and the lives of others.

McVay Tellez has received the Commitment to Youth Award from the Leadership Roswell Alumni Association, an honor that has been won previously by judges, educators, youth organization leaders and pastors, including some people she considers mentors and friends, including the late Judge Alvin Jones.

She was nominated by Troy Hays, the representative of a fund created in memory of his wife, the Linda Hays Trust. The trust has provided money since 2018 that has been used by the Historical Society to provide annual college scholarships to southeastern New Mexico students. The program, which began in 2015, has provided 31 scholarships of various amounts to students.

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McVay Tellez said she and Hays agree about the importance of giving students the tools to succeed.

“We agree on one thing — we work together regularly — we want to bring hope and, in my word, sunshine to people lives,” she said. “It is important to me, out of Romans 15:13, ‘Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, in the power of the Holy Spirit.’”

However, she stressed that even more importantly, the Historical Society leaders and donors are teaching students about the value of relationships because they stay in contact with the students throughout their educational paths and make sure they know that the local community cares about them.

“These kids now realize the impact they could have on our community and that it doesn’t matter where you come from or where you’ve gone to school, you are part of the Historical Society,” she said.

Hays said, “Not only her, but everyone over there has really done a terrific job of developing a plan and implementing” the scholarship program.

In his nomination letter, he complimented McVay Tellez’s concern, hard work and effectiveness. “The results confirm that the innovation, extension and inclusion that Amy has employed is successful beyond expectation,” he wrote.

McVay Tellez said that her work in life was informed by her parents, Charlie and Elizabeth, both of whom have passed away. She said they taught her and her two brothers, through example and through word, that serving others was an integral part of life, to continue beyond professional endeavors.

McVay Tellez remembers that her father, a baseball and softball coach, sought out some of the struggling players because he wanted them to recognize their good attributes and learn to succeed. Not surprisingly, she was a softball player herself during her youth, as well as a softball coach later.

After graduating from Roswell High School in 1989, she worked in interior design and event planning for local companies before joining the Historical Society in 2013. She also raised two sons, Alec and Bryce, as a single mom. While juggling career and family, she volunteered for church, school events, youth camps and various community organizations.

In July she married Ralph Tellez, a Roswell High School counselor. Among the many gifts that has brought her is additional grandchildren to join the two from her sons, who call her “Foofie.”

“There is nothing greater in this world than embracing family and, of course, my husband,” she said.

Now her work with youth includes coordinating with educators and students through Character Counts, which teaches youth about the six pillars of character, and volunteering with youth at Grace Community Church, as well as helping cadets at the National Youth Challenge Academy, including encouraging them to apply for college scholarships. She also works with teenagers participating in the Teen Leadership Institute of Leadership Roswell.

“This is a golden opportunity for me to honor my family and my parents’ legacy,” she said. “If there is any way I can be a part of being able to pivot beyond all division to pull together. That is very, very, important to me and my husband believes that also. I can’t think of anything that drives me more than to try to help to bring this community together.”

She added that she thinks the community will thrive when it gets beyond seeing itself as individual sectors or groups.

“I really don’t think that Roswell has scratched the surface of our great potential,” McVay Tellez said. “If we can find that, I know one thing, our kids will have the honor of experiencing that themselves.”

Character Counts Executive Director Tim Fuller, McVay Tellez’s friend since high school, said her work is impressive and noticed by many.

“She has always had a heart to give back to the community, and by giving back to the young people, she is giving a seed for the future of the community,” he said. “She has done it in a lot of different ways, and she has reached thousands of people through the years.”

Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.