|Dr. Gary Baker Wins Award|
Giving back to the community: A rewarding experience
Top photo, Jerry Romero of Physical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy (C-PCS) fastens metal joists on a Habitat for Humanity steel frame home he helped build in Los Lunas in 2004. In the middle photos, Romero is on the roof of the home fastening an interior wall to an exterior wall.
Photos by Norm Daviess, Habitat for Humanity
by Ed Kellum
Jerry J. Romero of Physical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy (C-PCS) spends his free time changing lives. After work when most Laboratory employees are at home, Romero donates his time and energy to give back to his community. Devoting 600 plus hours last year alone, Romero works in his home town of Chimayo with the Española Valley/Los Alamos Habitat for Humanity, Chimayo Crime Prevention Organization and the Chimayo Boys and Girls Club.
Despite his many responsibilities and activities, Romero manages to balance his involvement with the volunteer organizations and his other commitments. “I am [involved] almost everyday of the week,” said Romero. “Five to six days a week, after work and on weekends are the only times I have available.” Romero serves as the vice president for the Chimayo Boys and Girls Club and the Chimayo Crime Prevention Organization, and he sits on three committees for the Habitat for Humanity, and the Building and Family Selection committees. Romero has worked at the Laboratory since 1975 and is senior technologist working on semiconductor and metal nanostructure projects, as well as on experiments involving the ignition and detonation of solid explosives. He attributes his philanthropic passions to his childhood. “It goes back to my mother. She raised my two sisters and me as a single parent, because my father died of a heart attack when I was only five,” Romero said. “To be at this level where I am able to help people living in hard situations like my mom really motivates me,” he said. “Habitat for Humanity gives families that chance and opportunity to get over that hump and finally buy their home.”
Romero and other Habitat for Humanity volunteers are currently building a three-bedroom house in Arroyo Seco — he also has worked on three other houses and done renovations on other homes — and occasionally works with other Habitat for Humanity chapters around the state. “We trade ideas and get to meet other people,” Romero said.
And in between his Lab job and his work with these organizations, Romero also finds time to do woodworking, tinwork, landscaping, working on cars, riding his Harley Davidson motorcycle and coaching his two sons’ basketball and baseball teams. Romero is quick to credit the Lab with his ability to give. “I feel I owe so much to the Lab, because without it I would not be able to help the way I do,” he stated. “Working at the Lab has given me on-the-job experience that I have taken and used to benefit the Valley, and what I have learned in the community has benefited the Lab.”
Romero noted the difference volunteering has made in his community.“We see an immediate impact from these organizations; it is just hard to find volunteers,” he said. “We have a hard time getting people involved. Many people think volunteering is a lifetime commitment when really it only has to be a few hours on a Saturday.”
Charitable organizations are always looking for help and Romero is working to get the word out about the need. “I think the lack of volunteers is our major weakness right now,” he said. For more information about volunteering, Romero recommends calling the Espanola Valley/Los Alamos Habitat for Humanity Re-store at (505) 747-2690. Donations can be made for the Chimayo Boys and Girls Club through the United Way of Los Alamos/Northern New Mexico, or by calling (505) 351-1515.“I think you will find volunteering a rewarding experience. I cannot really explain it, but the feeling you get when you give back to the community is great. It brings so many good things into your life,” Romero stated. “There are a million things that are good in my life, but my two sons, Joshua and Jeremy; my mother, Adelina; my great job with such supporting supervisors; and my health are the things I hold dear.”
Reprinted from the June 6th Los Alamos Newsletter.