Find your community and giving back:
Rick and Kathy Abeles
When Rick Abeles first visited New Mexico, it was for his honeymoon nearly forty-five years ago. A Chicago native, Rick and his wife Kathy fell in love with the mountains and people of Northern New Mexico, visiting roughly twelve times before deciding to relocate to Santa Fe.
“There were more interesting people per square foot than anywhere we had ever been,” says Rick. “It was very open for us in terms of meeting people. It worked out really well for us.”
Not content on being a resident living in solitude, Rick and Kathy wanted to be contributing community members. They wanted to be involved. The Abeles are highly educated individuals with a diverse background in academics. They believe in the power of education, so contributing to those navigating the complexities of obtaining a degree made sense.
“Both my wife and I were products of the elite college experience. I went to a small private school on the East Coast, then Harvard Law School. My wife went to Cornell and Michigan. But I went out and looked at the college (Santa Fe Community College), and I was blown away. It was an amazing place with amazing facilities with far more qualified faculty than comparable colleges.”
Rick and Kathy had already found themselves in the philanthropic circles in Santa Fe before they turned their eye to helping the Santa Fe Community College Foundation: Kathy, a board chairman for St. Vincent and La Familia. Rick was the first president of the Santa Fe Children’s Museum after helping create the space to give kids from the area a place to explore and have fun.
“I was very impressed and the more time I spent with the college and the Foundation people, the more I was impressed. They are the most motivated students you’ve ever met. The college has a lot of nontraditional students but they want to be there. SFCCF was addressing issues like homelessness, food insecurity, and I wanted to help.”
Ricky helped in a big way. He served for seven years as a board member for SFCCF and four years as board chair. Rick and Kathy not only volunteered their time but also created an endowment to help students. They have since left Santa Fe, but their legacy of contribution continues to resonate in the hearts and minds of the community, serving as an enduring inspiration for future generations of students.
“I just had a really great time doing it. I felt I was doing good for students.”