Pitching In: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico to open resource center in South Valley

Nov. 19—Blue Cross and Blue Shield to open center in South Valley

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico plans to bring the first Blue Door Neighborhood Center to Albuquerque's South Valley, a spot the insurer says can improve the health and wellness outcomes of those residents.

The center, which will offer in-person resources, is expected to open next summer at 3925 Las Estancias SW in the Las Estancias Shopping Center.

It will offer members and the community access to in-person resources to improve their health and wellness at no cost.

"We believe that health care is local," BCBSNM President Janice Torrez said in a statement. "It's important for us to be in the neighborhoods where resources are needed. We've been serving people across New Mexico for more than 80 years, and we're committed to improving the overall health of our communities."

According to Blue Cross and Blue Shield, the center will partner with community organizations and health care providers to offer resources on maternal health, diabetes, behavioral health and heart disease. Officials said there will also be no-cost wellness classes, connections to social services, among other resources.

The health insurer said in a news release that hiring for the center will focus on "the multilingual needs of our members and the community, especially our Spanish-speaking population," while adding that the center will include a manager, health educator, community outreach specialist, community affairs concierge and customer service personnel.

The first Blue Door Neighborhood Center opened in 20198 in Chicago and has since expanded to two other locations in the Chicago area, Blue Cross and Blue Shield said.

Steve Maestas, the CEO of Maestas Development Group, the developer behind Las Estancias, said he is "thrilled to see BCBSNM make a significant investment into the South Valley community."

"This will have a measurable impact toward improving the lives of those that live in the area," he added.

Weatherization project funded by NMFA highlighted at local event

A weatherization project on a Mescalero home was highlighted at an event in October, according to a news release.

Energy efficient upgrades were performed on the home by Southwestern Regional Housing and Community Development Corp., a partner of the New Mexico Finance Authority, which is the organization that helped fund the upgrades through the NM Energy$mart Weatherization Program.

"Many homes in New Mexico are in dire need of upgrades that will improve their energy efficiency, and we are pleased that our Energy$mart program is able to make a tangible difference in the lives of our community members," MFA Executive Director and CEO Isidoro Hernandez said in a statement. "There is nothing like witnessing firsthand how this program positively impacts people's lives, whether they are able to enjoy the warmth inside their homes when it's cold outside, or they express gratitude because their utility bills have decreased."

The home, according to a news release, received a new water heater, pipe insulation, energy-efficient LED lighting, air sealing for drafts, low-flow showerheads, carbon monoxide detectors, among other upgrades.

The goal of the NM Energy$mart Weatherization Program "is to lower energy costs for low-income households by reducing their energy consumption, while improving their health and safety. MFA administers the program through community-based nonprofit organizations offering statewide services," according to the news release.

It is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy's Low-Income Energy Assistance Program, the New Mexico Gas Co., Public Service Company of New Mexico, New Mexico Housing Trust Fund and El Paso Electric.

Credit union to match up to $25,000 for hungry families

Sandia Area Federal Credit Union pledged to match up to $25,000 during the Feeding Area Children Everyday campaign, which runs from Nov. 20 through Jan. 5.

Donations can be made online at Sandia.org or at any branch location. The branches are also collecting non-perishable food items to benefit Storehouse New Mexico. Storehouse is one of the state's largest food pantries.

"These are challenging times, with groceries costs rising and more families than ever needing help this holiday," said CEO Kevin Todd. "Last year's FACE campaign brought in $119,000, including our $25,000 match. This year, we're asking the community to help us set another record donation for hungry families."

Donations are also accepted by phone at (505) 292-6343.