~ George Montoya
Montoya builds community pride
George and Beryl Montoya are avid community volunteers.
By Laurie Mellas Ramirez
George Montoya, a plumber who has put his expertise to work for UNM the past 14 years, keeps his South Valley neighborhood in good running order, too.
With nerves of galvanized steel and a heart of gold, Montoya helped build one of the largest and most successful neighborhood groups in Albuquerque.
Montoya is vice president of Vecinos del Bosque Neighborhood Association and an active member for eight years. Much of the South Valley community looks forward to the popular National Night Out event hosted at his home the first Tuesday of each August.
Designed to keep crime down and help people meet their neighbors, the event was attended by a mere 20 folks a decade ago. But where Montoya used to flip burgers on one grill, he now juggles six. At the turn of the century, Montoya was honored by the city and PNM as host of the largest local gathering – boasting 480 in attendance.
Sheriff, police and fire officials were invited to attend after the first year. Participation has grown to include a two-mile procession of squads and engines to Montoya’s home, he said. A successful blood drive has also been incorporated.
Married for 25 years to wife Beryl, neither spouse clowns around when it comes to community volunteerism.
Well, maybe a little.
The couple attended clown school through the Optimists Club. Both are certified jokers – George is “Klick” and Beryl “Klack” – regularly visiting hospitals, including UNM’s Carrie Tingley, retirement homes and schools.
“We just call up and offer to put a smile on some kid’s or elderly person’s face,” Montoya said."
The two participate in annual paint outs – graffiti removal – and South Valley Pride Day “clean outs.” Four years ago, the neighborhood association adopted eight miles of the bosque from around Central to Bridge. The couple pitches in to help keep the area pristine.
Montoya said their association and two others received a $300,000 grant to create city bike trails and sidewalks. One-third of the funds will go to make improvements around the South Valley, known for its winding, narrow roads.
George is also a member of the Southwest Alliance of Neighborhoods. The group will spiff up Central and build community pride, securing bright new banners featuring the alliance’s code of honor and family names to the street’s light poles. Two dozen have been sold to locals.
Montoya, nominated for this column, asks only one thing in return from communities he serves.
“No matter what part of town they live in, I’d like to see more people get involved with their communities and get interested in issues that have to do with their properties.”