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Champions of Solace
With the start of spring, we're honoring two leaders in our community who have made an impact both on Solace and on our New Mexican communities as a whole.
They are: Destiny Allison and Ray Lopez.
Read their stories below.
Honoring Ray Lopez
I became a staff member at the Santa Fe Rape Crisis Center (now Solace Crisis Treatment Center) May 10, 2002. I was an advocate and forensic interviewer in 2004 when Ray Lopez began volunteering at the Center. I knew right away we were in the presence of a very special man. I learned that he was taking the training that advocates take to provide crisis response via the 24/7 hotline. However, his main interest was to be part of a men’s group of some kind. I witnessed the process over the following three plus years as the Men’s Group welcomed in new members and evolved. As a professional woman, in an agency that was lacking support from men to stand up for women survivors of sexual violence, my gratitude couldn’t be explained with words.
Ray became an asset to Solace. We were fortunate to count on his many specialized skills in the world of local and state government and relations at the legislative level. At the time, I was still unaware of many of the ramifications of his investment in our agency. I know now that it created the first footprint for the robust relations Solace has with our legislators today. He helped the mission of the agency to be a part of the legislative agenda and fosters some of the strongest alliances we currently have with Senators and Representatives. He educated our staff to navigate the Capitol Building and how to make effective use of our testimony to promote legislative change so our laws pertaining to sexual violence could better meet the needs of survivors. The ever-changing world of trauma and sexual violence became an opportunity rather than a barrier under his leadership through his over 30 years of experience as a legislative analyst.
In June 2011, Ray and I had what was one of the most important conversations in my entire career. Ray was, at the time, the Board President and he approached me to see if I was interested in becoming the Interim Executive Director. I didn’t have too much time to think about it. Solace had under $100 in the bank and 20 employees. I didn’t know for sure if I was going to love the job since I had never thought about it before. I was certain I couldn’t miss the opportunity to work with Ray at that level. I was also clear that we didn’t have many options, so I said yes.
Ray created an office for himself in our library room at Solace and from his cell phone and his own laptop he worked just like our original three founders did: from the kitchen phone line of one of their homes. Ray called every single person he knew who he thought could help Solace. He provided me with guidance. He helped me calm down when I could not see though our financial problems and when I was literally “pacing the room.” He monitored my despair and frustration with grace. He let me be afraid and allowed me to pick myself up or gave me a hand if he didn’t think I was going to be able to do it alone.
To this day, I know that there is no way I could have made it without him. I can close my eyes and remember the arguments he would give me to defeat my fear, to tap into my strength and to make me believe that Solace was going to be OK.
Ray’s leadership and teachings are those of a true coach. He doesn’t want to be seen and does not wait or expect acknowledgment. He makes you believe in yourself and gives you what you may need to overcome the unthinkable. He is a mentor; I called him Maestro. He makes this world a better place.
María José Rodríguez Cádiz
Destiny Allison is a sculptor, author, and businesswoman.
Her work is collected by individuals, civic entities, and corporations worldwide.
Destiny was nominated by the Santa Fe Professional Business Women Association, and received the award of 2011 Santa Fe Business Woman of the Year.
Destiny’s books have taken numerous awards. Her book titled “Romance Diet: Body Image and the Wars we Wage on Ourselves” describes a series of events that eventually – after a domestic violence arrest, a dislocated shoulder, and a night in the suicide watch portion of the county jail -- led her to Solace. Destiny reached out to Solace when the book was published to let us know how Solace had impacted her life. In turn, she offered her support to Solace.
In Destiny’s words “Solace saved me, my marriage, and my life. Like so many others, I had spent decades suffering from undiagnosed PTSD. It controlled me, dictated my actions, impaired my relationships, and let me hate myself. Through Solace, I learned to manage it, found ways to let some of the trauma go, and began the process of healing the wounds from so long ago.
Allison believes that one’s life is one’s greatest work of art. Hence, she flows freely between mediums. Unafraid to make mistakes and always passionate, she lives in Santa Fe, NM with her husband and dogs.