Community Asset Awards: Pride In A Pandemic

Executive Director
Champions of Youth Ambitions

Super supportive and helping each other in any department, was how White Rock Operations Manager, Mary Dinnell described employees. The Smith’s grocery stores in White Rock and Los Alamos and four employees were nominated for the Community Asset Awards.

Anna Collis, a cashier at Smith’s Marketplace in Los Alamos, was nominated for a Community Asset Award. Courtesy photo

Anna Collis is a cashier who is more important than ever in these challenging times. She can be a constant in your life and that means a lot to shoppers that seek out her line, when it is time to pay. She is reliable, pleasant and always tries to make you feel special. Prior to COVID-19, she could even be known for a hug, to make you feel special.

Brandon Kennard works at Smith’s in White Rock. He works even harder to make everyone smile because he cares. He has two girls that attend Chamisa Elementary and is dedicated to his job. He works overtime on the front lines at the grocery store so residents of White Rock have the food they need for their families. He takes pride in his work and is known for going above and beyond to help his customers.

Elsie Thomsen, a cashier at Smith’s Marketplace in Los Alamos was nominated for a Community Asset Award. Courtesy photo

Elsie Thomsen is a really nice and sweet person who is an excellent cashier at Smith’s, in Los Alamos. She is really fun to talk to and spends time discussing fishing in the Jemez when I am checking out. Her professionalism, and nice, gentle spirit make her an ideal candidate for an award.

Benji Valdez seems to be on duty every morning when you shop at Smith’s Marketplace. Year after year and in every type of weather he can be found gathering shopping carts in Smiths parking lot. One customer is impressed that he always waves and says hi. He never complains and is a true asset to have working in our community.

We asked Dinnell to elaborate on something that has been amazing to see throughout the last 10 months.

“The Pick-Up team and their growth as a team,” said Dinnell.  “With a lot of items not being available still from our warehouses, they have worked hard to fill what they can and have been learning what else would be a good substitute.”

Dinnell commended the new younger employees, who have gained new interests in home cooking.

“So, it is nice to see them take an interest so that our customers can enjoy their home cooked meals,” she said.

Dinnell thanks community members and local businesses, that have supported them over the course of many months.

You can learn more about Champions of Youth Ambitions at http://www.cya-nm,org. Learn more about the Community Asset Awards at or on Facebook.

The 2020 Community Asset Awards Winners are:

Spirit of the West

  • Interact Club

LAHS Interact Club


  • Keith Lewis
  • Sandy Tobin
  • Alison Pannell
  • Margo Batha
  • Lynn Ovaska


  • Philippe Fung
  • Malia Hanawalt
  • Taylor Kanzleiter
  • Yunseo Kim  
  • Tommy Oldham
  • Elise Ovaska

Director’s Choice

  • Don Gerheart
  • Sam Wolfsberg


Smith’s Food & Drug Store

  • Brandon Kennard
  • Anna Collis
  • Elsie Thomsen
  • Benjie Valdez

Los Alamos Medical Center

  • Connie Carruthers
  • Dr. Patricia Mahoney

Pet Pangea

  • Cindy Wells

SEW Many Masks

  • Lisa Gonzales
  • Diane Hammon
  • Pam Hundley
  • Sue Souza
  • Lorraine Roman-Vasilik
  • Clara Vigil


  • Brett Doughty
  • Steven Sanderson

Additional Nominees

  • Christopher Adams
  • Shannon CdeBaca
  • Minsung Chae
  • Jordan DuRose
  • Heather Elliott
  • Ryn Herrmann
  • Chris Judson
  • Joanne Kozuchowski
  • Lisabeth Lueninghoener
  • Kenyon Mackey
  • Melissa Mackey
  • Herman Manzanares
  • George Marsden
  • Maire O’Neill
  • Catherine Ozment
  • Laura Parkison
  • Linda Sanders
  • David Sanders
  • Sarah Sanders
  • Emily Sanders
  • Scott Smith
  • Alison Ticknor
  • Christina Wadlington
  • Cyndi Wells
  • Chris Cude-Woods