The “Success Club” completed a 5-week series at Northern New Mexico College (NNMC). Francisco Gonzalez, director of Motion Pix Ent, LLC, was asked by leadership of NNMC to lead a group for students and local community residents on various topics: Overcoming fear, stress management, fostering community, define “Success”, relationships, and health topics. The purpose of the group was to offer a place of encouragement and a loving environment to share experiences, “best practices”, tips, and a place to make friends as we’re “all in the same boat.”

The big idea was this … when we’re going through life experiencing obstacles alone it can be even more challenging, lonely, and the struggles can seem insurmountable causing unnecessary stress on our mind, body, and spirit through fear & worry. As a result, we can create health problems that exacerbate the situation.  The Success Club philosophy was that life is a lot less challenging when we share our challenges and gain support in togetherness. When we can share our story’s of struggle with each other we can gain a new perspective from another and know when not “in this alone” but instead “in the same boat.”

The feeling of being understood and knowing someone “cares about me” is vital to our emotional wellness and feeling of self-worth. And we were very pleased about the participation received from the student body + local community. Twenty participants on average.

The format of the group meeting was very interactive. First, a warm inviting atmosphere was created with music, candles, music, decorations and someone assigned as a welcome greeter. Next, we brought in accomplished guests to “pick their brain” on certain topics and to see their “perspective.”  Afterwards, groups analyzed these concepts and decided on a topic. They broke out into groups of 4 and discussed the topic freely. A designated scribe from each table wrote down key takeaways for posting on a white board. Afterwards, we analyzed our findings.

Francisco V. Gonzalez III., was primary facilitator. He ensured the meeting moved along at a balanced pace regarding meeting agenda / structure yet managed enough time flexibility for 100% interaction with members. He said, “I didn’t want to just be a talking head pontificating about my worldviews and everyone simply listens to me.” Instead, “I wanted all ages, cultures, to be vocally interactive sharing their opinions and perspectives.” In this manner, the group benefited from the collective wisdom, controversies, and opinions of all which made for engaging conversations.

Francisco reflected, “One of the most generative moments was when we had a dynamic conversation that included: 2 high school cheerleaders, an 81 year old senior lady, a 34 year old retail store manager (male), 2 woman mid 40’s, and several engineering students. The topic the overall group voted to discuss was “how to foster a sense of community” in their lives.” This was an energized conversation that yielded many shared stories and concluded on the mental health benefits of feeling a sense of “belongingness” and “ownership” in the communities we live in. As the bible says, “who is your neighbor?”

After each meeting, Francisco passed around a survey to evaluate the overall effectiveness of the meeting. The average rating was 9.0 out of possible 10 with 10 being best rating. However, this may be due to the quality & quantity of hot meals we ate ;). One of the important aspects of the Success Club was to have high quality “hot” meals. It would have been easy to obtain free food from the local pizzeria. But the group wanted to aim for excellence and strive for better quality not only in our meals but as an orientation and expectation in everything the members do, say, and believe; our lifestyle.

The fall 2016 initiative was a success which the new NNMC incoming President, Dr. Bailey, said, “I’m very proud of Francisco Gonzalez or doing this as this will bring the community together.” Everyone agreed the forum to openly share feelings, leave encouraged, and to explore what is life success, was something needed in the community.

One of the purposes of the Success Club was to identify leaders in the Fall that could undergo a leadership program Francisco would develop for the Spring 2017. However, Chris Madrid, Economic Development Officer, for the Rio Arriba County invited Francisco to apply for the Northern Heritage Leadership Institute to be a team member of a civic / county community leadership team. He did apply and was accepted onto the business development team due the the success and leadership displayed with the “Success Club” and graduate of the Rio Arriba sponsored 18 week business academy. He will begin training Jan 20, 2017.

Therefore, although the Success Club 5-week series is officially closed, we’d like to thank the sponsors who helped bring high quality delicious meals or support to our group: Ricardo Garcia + girlfriend, Aaron Lopez, Amy Ortiz, Dr. Bailey, and Jose Jireh, owner of Carniceria (Meat Market), Francisco V. Gonzalez III, et. al.