Mayor Alice Lucero and DNCU’s CEO Chuck Valenti unveil the new sign at Valdez Park. Valley Daily Post photo
Del Norte CU Adopts Valdez Park
By ROBERT A. NARANJO
On a brisk but sunny day, Dec. 14, the Del Norte Credit Union (DNCU) formally adopted Española’s Valdez Park with a ceremony and an unveiling of a new sign with “Valdez Park” and DNCU’s logo alongside of the park name. When asked how the adoption of the park came about, DNCU’s CEO Chuck Valenti, said, “It really came from our employees…and in speaking with them we have developed ‘Del Norteño’ pride…taking pride in our communities and ourselves. They really wanted to do something to improve the lives of the people in the community in addition to what we already do. We heard about the opportunity–to adopt the park–and we thought it was a good first step in helping the community take pride in itself.”
DNCU’s Vince Setnar, vice president of Lending added to what Valenti said, “Obviously, we have our Operations Center right up here and we are thrilled to be there as well. Really our employees became aware about the opportunity to come on down and clean the park up and we did. And we were amazed that we had 3O or 4O of our employees come on down here on that day. And we all got this feeling…we ought to do this more.” Setnar added, “Before you know it, we took it to John (Molenda, Exec. VP) and Chuck (Valenti, CEO) and they indicated that possibly we have to get more involved with the community and lo and behold, here we are.” Asked what is planned for the park, Setnar said, “It depends on what the community wants. For sure we will be out here at least twice a year, maybe three or four times to help with the cleanup of the park. Quite honestly, we will see what the community needs, what the park needs and we can all do it together.”
DNCU’s John Molenda at park adoption ceremony. Valley Daily Post image
Before the unveiling of the park sign, Mayor Alice Lucero told the assembled audience, “This is a very special occasion for us. We certainly appreciate what Del Norte Credit Union has done for our community. You have taken a lead and others have followed and we are so very proud of you for that.” The Mayor then introduced DNCU’s Executive VP John Molenda.
Mayor Alice Lucero. Valley Daily Post image
“Del Norte Credit Union is delighted to partner with the City and help with the park renovation here. It’s one of the many ways that we, as a not-for-profit financial cooperative, give back to the community.” He said that DNCU built its Operations Center here “five or six years ago” in a “conscious decision” despite calls by folks to place it in Santa Fe. “We have a lot of excellent employees here in Española and the surrounding communities and we didn’t want to risk losing them. And we wanted to just really solidify our commitment to the community. In fact, we almost have almost 1O,OOO member owners of Del Norte Credit Union here in the Española area and we are very much committed to the community. This is a small step but you never know what these sorts of things this may lead to,” Molenda said.
Molenda was respectfully adamant that Dixon military hero, Phil I. Valdez, a Navy Cross recipient whom saved the lives of two Marines in Vietnam giving up his own life in exchange, and for whom the park is named, must become more visible to citizens and for future generations of young people as a focal point of pride in this local hero. He said, “…we must not forget that he helped preserve their freedom and gave his life to do so.”
Mayor Pro Tem, Peter Valdez and City Councilors Peggy Martinez, Cory Lewis and City Manager, Kelly Duran, and city staff were present at the park adoption and sign unveiling ceremony. City crews that were on hand were singled out and recognized for their work. City Councilor Cory Lewis said, “We are very happy with Del Norte Credit Union’s contribution to the City.” Lewis complimented City staff with good maintenance of the City parks saying, “Our Parks guys do a phenomenal job keeping up with it and now with Del Norte assisting us, it’s a win-win situation all-around for the community.”
When asked what he thought about DNCU adopting the park and helping maintain it, Parks and recreation supervisor Ben Martinez said, “I’ll take all the help I can get, as we are a two man department for City parks. This will help us out tremendously giving us more time to work on the other parks. We appreciate Del Norte’s help.”
Newly refurbished lights at the park are turned on during the ceremony. Valley Daily Post image
Two young city residents that frequent Valdez Park were delighted that the lights are repaired. Carlos Trujillo and Bobby Lopez said that they are at the park every day and are looking forward to skateboarding, throwing the football and doing other activities now that the lights at the skateboard area are working. Trujillo said that they intend to keep an eye out for vandalism by youth or anyone else at Valdez Park.
Trujillo, when asked, said he would be more inclined to open an account with DNCU for what they have done for the community. “I was thinking about doing just that,” he said.