Monsimers have big hearts for community, pets
Bill and Hannah Monsimer are a part of the fabric of life in Las Cruces. So chances are, if you grew up here, you know them. Bill’s dad owned Monsimer Bakery back when Bill and Hannah were students, and they both worked there. They both attended Las Cruces public schools and NMSU, then grew up to become teachers, first in Las Cruces public schools, and later taught ballroom dance at NMSU.
They’ve earned multiple degrees at NMSU and won ballroom dance competitions all over the country. He was the top graduate at the U.S. Army Southeastern Signal School at Ft. Gordon, Ga., and was later part of the Lunar Module Program of Project Apollo at White Sands.
But what sets these two over-achievers apart from the others is their love for celebrations and love for their community and pets. And they’ve figured out how to meld all three.
For their 25th anniversary celebration in 1993, they decided to throw a big party at Dickerson’s Barn and invite everyone they knew. It was catered, with an open bar, engraved invitations and the whole nine yards. But they weren’t asking for presents. What they requested was that attendees bring something for the pets housed at the municipal animal shelter. More than 300 people showed up, and they ended up with a half-ton of pet food and supplies for the shelter. News about the event was picked up by the Associated Press, Paul Harvey and CNN.
Their love for pets runs deep. Bill says they “take care of whatever comes through our yard,” including making sure that community cats are spayed and neutered.
But it didn’t end with the 25th anniversary bash. For their 34th anniversary, they were chosen by author Lara Rios as the winning couple for her international “Romantic Cruise” contest. For their 48th anniversary, Bill surprised Hannah with a “room donor” commendation, where Bill selected a room at the historic Amador Hotel and made a contribution for the restoration of that room. Ironically, Hannah and her family used to stay at the Amador when her father, a doctor, came to town to see patients.
They also have special interest in the “Run for the Fallen,” ever since their nephew, Cpl. Christopher John-Lee “C.J.” West was killed in action in 2008 in Iraq. Hannah has logged more than 1,200 miles in his memory, and Bill has supported her efforts by using his photography and computer skills to document each event.
And this year, for their 51st anniversary, the Monsimers decided to make a donation to the two animal welfare organizations that have endowed funds with the Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico. The Dona Ana County Humane Society and the Spay and Neuter Action Program each received $23,333 from the Monsimers that was added to their existing endowed funds. They increased their donation by making it during CFSNM’s match grant period, and
CFSNM matched that donation 150 percent, so each group ended up with approximately $58,000 in new money in their accounts.
These funds stay in the accounts and the groups can use the dividends to run programs and for other expenses, thus providing them with long-term security.
“This investment by the Monsimers and CFSNM means that we have a pool of funds that will provide dividends for a long, long time,” said DACHS Executive Director Kathy Lawitz. “Our community will be a better place for both pets and people because of the Monsimers’ generosity.”
Donating through the Community Foundation allows potential donors to research endowed organizations and agencies and set up either donor-advised funds, or field-of-interest, designated, scholarship and/or unrestricted endowments.