Love of Zuni Homes residents keeps former employee connected

Published 11:24 am Saturday, April 26, 2014

ZUNI—Even though Dawn Womble has found a career calling elsewhere, her heart is still with the people of the Zuni Presbyterian Homes and Family Services. Her connection is such that the former campus nurse is leading the Kuwaye Steering Committee, which is responsible for organizing the annual Day in the Country.

“The Kuwayes,” said Womble, “is an Indian name for Friends of Zuni.”

This year’s fundraiser is the 40th and it takes place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 26 at the Zuni campus. There is no admission fee.

“It is an opportunity for the community to visit the campus and meet the residents,” she said, and explained that the people there are mildly mentally challenged adults.

“They [the public] can tour the campus, the homes and enjoy a day of fellowship and fun. I think a lot of people don’t know just what’s out there. They don’t realize how nice it is.”

In the past, the residents would sell vegetables and plants that were grown on the campus, which Womble said is how the fundraiser got started. Then it became an event where vendors would come, but got away from residents growing the produce and flowers.

Later, the facility got into cooking and packaging peanuts, Womble added. Just in the last year this was sized down and Zuni Homes began to partner with Hubs peanuts.

“We still sell peanuts, but they do our cooking for us. Our residents still do packaging and distributing,” she said.

There will be entertainment, plenty of food, including the many churches that will contribute baked goods.

An auction that begins at approximately noon will feature three quilts from Amish people. Jim Dubinksy, former Kuwayes president, travels and gets these crafts donated.

“I have a signed card from David Wright, third baseman for the Mets,” said Womble. “A die-cast card signed by Elliot Sadler, a race car driver, and a Speed Channel shirt signed by commentator Hermie Sadler.”

Her personal investment in Zuni Homes dates to the start of her career with the residency.

“I did a consulting job for them and they ended up offering me a full-time position,” she said. Womble recently left to start her own business at the Franklin Incubator, Personal Integrity. She teaches medication aide and does consultations.

As mentioned above, Womble maintains a link to the people living and working at Zuni Homes.

“I fell in love with the residents,” she said. “When I left, I couldn’t leave. They became a part of my life, and I wanted to continue to be a part of their lives by volunteering.”

Her recent election as committee president and the Day in the Country event have kept her running around, as she laughingly put it, “like a chicken with its head cut off.

“This is one of the biggest fundraisers for the Kuwayes to provide special things for the residents in addition to what the home does,” added Womble.

An in-ground pool, a Christmas party and gifts are some examples of how the organization works to enhance the residents; lives.

“We welcome people who are interested in being members,” she said. “People can contact me if they are interested in being a member.”

The Zuni campus is located at 5279 Homegrown Lane, Zuni. Call Womble at 242-6131 for details about becoming a member of the Kuwayes.