Assurance Home’s Ron “Pop” Malone holds a plaque honoring his “Three Decades of Service” while surrounded by his wife, Brenda Malone (white blouse, dark skirt), child care worker Bobby Witchley (cowboy hat) and the kids at Assurance Home at its fundraiser Sunday, sponsored by Peas ‘N’ Pod Catering, Sunday. (Amy Vogelsang Photo)
“Act Naturally” played in the background as [auth] people socialized and gathered under a large white canopy. The white table-clothed round tables were accented with teal cowboy boots and bright sunflowers, the perfect way to remind everyone that it was a beautiful Sunday afternoon. And it was also a special occasion: The fundraiser for Assurance Home and James Ranch Youth Shelter, an event sponsored by Peas ‘N’ Pod Catering from Santa Fe.
Although the delicious meal was a “simple” barbecue, the cause was much greater. Complete with an art show featuring the artists Malcolm Hughes, Tashia Ramage and Curtis Fort, the entire event was to remind the kids of Assurance Home how much people care about them.
Assurance Home is a safe house for abused, neglected, homeless and at-risk kids. And thanks to Peas ‘N’ Pod, this fundraiser helps raise money to give the kids more opportunities.
“It just kind of came about basically just because we thought this is such a great cause,” commented co-owner of Peas ‘N’ Pod Catering, Glenda Griswold. “It’s (about) meeting the kids. Talking to them and understanding we can contribute to making their lives better.”
Since 2000, Peas ‘N’ Pod has tried to come to Roswell every year, or at least every other year, to help promote and raise money for Assurance Home.
All the chefs and cooks volunteered to travel from Santa Fe for this event, said chef and owner Catherine O’Brien.
“It’s to give back to people who appreciate the simple things in life,” she said. “There are things in life that we take for granted (…) it’s important to recognize that there are people who need, not want.” The importance to O’Brien in helping Assurance Home shows in the tears she struggled to hold back. It’s evident that she gives completely from her heart.
This is the case for everyone involved with Assurance Home. It is especially true for Executive Director Ron Malone and his wife Brenda Malone. He has been with Assurance Home since 1979, and as child care worker Bobby Witchley said simply, Malone is a “very special person.”
“In 35 years, I have never not seen him tell a child every day how much he loves them,” Witchley said, choking back tears of his own. This is a trait Malone does consistently, without a break, even on his days off or while on vacation, Witchley continued.
The kids at Assurance Home honored Malone’s years of service with a plaque and also dedicated two trees. Upon the trees, tied around branches between the leaves, were a bunch of small yellow ribbons, each one representing a child whose life was changed because of Malone.
But there was one other person who was recognized, honored and credited by everyone for having had a hand in starting Assurance Home, and that was Martha Murphy.
Having spent 35 years on the board before passing the torch, including being president for some of those, Murphy was part of the Assurance Home foundation.
“Next to my family, this is the most important thing in my life,” she said.
For her, the opportunities kids at Assurance Home have are truly life changing.
“Children who grow up around books, art, paintings and flowers (…) it changes them,” she explained.
She said she “stacked the board with good members,” but everyone at Assurance Home misses her dearly. She was like a celebrity at the fundraiser as one after another person came up to hug her.
“We wouldn’t be to this point in our lives without Martha Murphy,” Malone summed up. “She has always believed in us.”