Athletes Join Forces With Area Students To Beautify Riverwalk

Students removing litter from Las Vegas' riverwalk

Paula Hafoka, left, and Jude Finaunjuh pick up trash from the Gallinas River Park Oct. 3.

Las Vegas, NM – Approximately 100 Highlands athletes joined forces Oct. 3 with students from Las Vegas’ other educational institutions to clean the Gallinas River Park and paint its historic bridge.

The project was part of Las Vegas’ new community-based volunteer organization, Vecinos Juntos. Vecinos Juntos, meaning, “neighbors together,” is a partnership between the City of Las Vegas, Highlands University, Luna Community College, the United World College, and the city’s two school districts to promote volunteer opportunities for the area’s students.

“Community service is a great opportunity to break up the routine of the daily grind of being a student-athlete,” said Highlands Athletic Director Andrew Ehling. “With all the COVID policies we’ve put in place to protect campus and community, student-athletes haven’t had many opportunities to explore Las Vegas. Saturday’s event not only helped our town, it helped our student-athletes socially engage off-campus in a safe manner.”

Ehling he feels it’s important for the athletes and their coaches to be involved in the community.

“Part of our initiatives in Highlands athletics is to provide value to the community,” Ehling said. “This was a great opportunity for our student-athletes to experience this firsthand on how they can impact and serve others.”

Highlands President Sam Minner said he is proud the university is part of the partnership and is excited to see students’ enthusiasm for volunteer projects.

“There’s a certain satisfaction that comes with making your community a better place,” Minner said. “Every day, I hear others say the same thing I believe: Las Vegas is a great community. Natives and newcomers alike share a pride for this town, and to see it expressed by Las Vegas’ student population should make everyone feel good.”