Newman Project gets off ground

By Karl Terry: Freedom Newspapers

PORTALES — Richard and Louise Smith value their independence, however, health problems and a string of attempted break-ins have left them worried about their safety.

Peace of mind arrived for the retired Portales couple Thursday via the Newman Project, a senior safety program instituted by District Attorney Matt Chandler’s office.

“I hated to answer the door, even in the daytime,” Louise Smith said. “It’s a godsend to senior citizens because everyone is on a limited income.”

Employees from Lowe’s Home Improvement’s community volunteer program donated their time to install a peephole, deadbolts, fire extinguisher, smoke and carbon dioxide detectors and outdoor motion lighting at the Smith home at no cost.

Lowe’s provided the items at cost to the program, which was funded through a legislative bill sponsored by Rep. Keith Gardner, R-Roswell.

Louise Smith said she and her husband used to be able to make home repairs and improvements but those chores have become difficult since he lost his eyesight. She’s had problems herself with several bad falls recently.

“Without them this wouldn’t be happening,” Louise Smith said, motioning to the Lowe’s crew packing their vehicle to go to the next of several stops they made Thursday in Portales.

The Smiths said they learned about the program from a newspaper article and at the Portales Senior Citizens Center.

It was at the center where they became friends with the project’s namesakes, Odis and Doris Newman, a retired Portales couple who were abducted and killed in 2005.

Molly Ortega, a Portales senior who lives on her own since her husband died a few years ago, received deadbolts and peepholes Thursday.

Ortega learned about the program from her granddaughter, Andrea Ontiveros, a student at Valencia Elementary. The school had participated in a design contest for the project and learned more about it when the district attorney’s office gave a program on the Newman Project.

Ortega said her neighborhood has changed over the 40 years she’s lived in her home.

“So many things are happening to the elderly and not only the elderly, you know,” Ortega said. “There are a lot of people now that you don’t know.”

Fast facts
The Newman Project:

Provides a variety of security items along with installation free of charge to senior citizens in the Portales/Clovis area.

Carried out through the District Attorney’s office.

Named for Odis and Doris Newman, a retired Portales couple murdered in 2005.

Information: 769-2246