MAKING OF A HELPING HEART
April 29, 2004, when Mike’s wife, Lynn, forced him to see Michael Harding, a Cardiologist in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to have his aortic aneurysm checked. He’d first been diagnosed with a heart problem several years before. May 7th, the day of his doctor's appointment, would change Mike’s life forever. After several X-ray’s and CT’s, and finally an angiogram, he was informed that the aneurism had dissected. They were going to hold him in the hospital until an O.R. was available — a precaution in case the situation became an emergency. As it was, the first available O.R. was not until that Monday, May 10th. Not wanting to go into a very serious surgery on his son Michael I. Jr.’s birthday, he opted to hold off until the next day.
The surgery lasted several hours, much longer than was expected. After the final closing, the surgeon and Dr. Harington entered the waiting room to inform the family of the surgery outcome. At that time Lynn was informed that prior to the surgery, the aneurysm had dissected twice and that upon opening Michael up they found two dissections in the Y section on the aorta. It wasn’t until much later that they found out just how serious this could have been when a dentist treating Michael told him that it was a miracle that he made it off the table. Both Dr. Harding and Dr. Weir made it seem like an everyday occurrence, and we were just glad that it was over. At the next check-up with Dr. Harding, they did verify the dentist’s statement and were told that yes indeed he was lucky to make it off the table.
It was at that time that Mike decided that he was kept alive because he had something that he needed to do. From that point on, he searched for his calling. He pledged to help those in need.
CARING FOR THE NEST
Once they moved back to Ruidoso, in July of 2008, he pushed to become involved in the community which he loved — trying to make sure that all aspects of the village were taken care of, to the benefit of the residence, and not just for the local government. To say the least, he did ruffle many feathers.
In the Spring of 2009, he became aware of a women’s shelter located in Ruidoso Downs, appropriately called The Nest. Mike thought it was a good place where they could help. Lynn agreed, and for the next year they made sure that each holiday was met with some type of surprise for the ladies and children living in The Nest. He volunteered to do any necessary repairs, at his cost. When he learned that one of the refrigerators had died and that they also needed a microwave, he headed to Lowes in Alamogordo, NM to purchase new replacements. He arranged for the shelter resident ladies to go on outings to a local dinner and theater show; and arranged a trip to a local amusement center for all the kids. The generosity of costs were donated by the two businesses.
His good works led to his being asked to sit on the board that manages the Nest, also appropriately named acronym: HEAL (Help End Abuse for Life). His wife, Lynn, joined the board also, and she still holds her position as Board member today with HEAL (at the time of this blog). They continued their support for The Nest, even taking that support to the capital in Santa Fe. There they lobbied for more funds and law changes from the legislature and governor of New Mexico. Although Mike left the board in 20012, the Nest continued to hold a soft spot in his heart.
QUENCHING THE FIREFIGHTERS
Arthur Hoops, a retired first responder, started caring for the Ruidoso firefighter’s in 1996, as a volunteer through the Ruidoso Fire department. In helping the NEST, Mike met many community volunteers and he and Arthur became quick associates. Soon Mike became Vice President (and Co-Founder) of the Ruidoso Fire Auxiliary Board. Mike stayed on the board and lead through good example. It wasn’t long after leaving the RFA board, In June of 2017, when Arthur asked if Mike would take over the OSS organization he’d recently formed. Mike felt this was his calling. Giving aid to first responders is like caring for one of his own. Mike has a brother-in-law and two nephews who are firefighters, plus another nephew who is a police officer in California. Mike joined forces with Arthur Hoops.
He followed his heart and his interest. He felt that he was able to make a difference. And with the help of Lynn, he took on that responsibility and started to mold OSS into the organization he thought it could be. His phone, pagers, and scanners are now kept on 24/7. All emergency events lasting more than a couple of hours are responded to with vigor, toting a ton of supplies. His goal is to always make sure that all first responders, not just firefighters, receive hydration and nutrition so they can carry on with their job.
His experiences lead to increasing the supply stock he carries in his personal truck that now has over 200,000 miles. In addition to the cases of water bottles and snacks, space blankets and ponchos for victims to use during inclement weather have been added. Every time he sees another area that needs attention, he write notes and hands them over to Lynn to research the best solution to solve the situation. His latest project goal, the purchase of an ambulance, is no small feat. It is his goal to renovate an out of commission ambulance into a place where first responders will be able to get out of the weather for a short breather, bottle of water, and something to eat.
As of November 2018, OSS became both a nonprofit for the state of New Mexico and a 501 C3 registered US corporation. Those wanting to donate may now be able to claim the deduction. Mike does not let lack of donations stop him. When the funds are low in the On-Scene Support account, he dips into his own funds to make sure that the first responders are never without.
ALWAYS READY TO RESPOND
He also makes sure that not only the first responders of Lincoln County, New Mexico, are covered but even those that arise in his travels. The latest response both he and his wife took on was the Saturday before Easter of 2019. They were on their way to Hatch, NM, when they arrived at the scene of a rollover in Otero County, just outside of Tularosa. As it turned out, it was a fatality accident that stopped traffic on HWY 70 in both directions for several hours. Not only water and snacks were needed, but traffic assistance was also required so that the first responders could carry on with the job at hand. Mike effortlessly rolled out his tailgating, gratuitous service, always stocked for these types of emergency events. His dedication anywhere he is when a situation arises exemplifies how committed Mike is, always ready to make sure that first responders have what they need when they need it.
THE WORLD NEEDS MORE MIKE MYERS
If you are interested in helping, whether be as a volunteer OR sending a donation, please check us out on Facebook, or through our web site, oss-lcnm.org. Donations can also be deposited with Pioneer Bank in Ruidoso, where OSS has an account.