Community Newsletter – January 2022

Hello and Happy 2022 from Vida Del Norte! We hope that everyone is having a great start to the new year. We wanted to send out a quick community newsletter to invite everyone to our annual retreat and give a brief update of some of the activities that Vida was involved in during the fall and before the new year. 


We want to invite all of you to attend our annual retreat which will be on Saturday, January 22 from 10am-2pm. The annual retreat is a time for people to get to know more about the goals of the Vida Del Norte coalition. The retreat is also a time to build capacity within the coalition, plan how we can work together to increase our impact preventing youth substance misuse in our community and get to know one another better. The retreat will be at the Vida Del Norte office in Questa which is #62 Highway 38, across from the Granite company's building. You can also attend the retreat online using Zoom. You can download the agenda by clicking here. We will be having a simple lunch and there will be coffee and snacks. We hope very much that you can attend and we also encourage you to
The Zoom info is:
Meeting ID: 831 4411 5176


Please visit the links below to read more and see photos.

Red Ribbon Week 2021 in Questa

This year Vida Del Norte partnered up with other groups and helped to organize a truly memorable Red Ribbon Week in Questa. Through out the week the individuals involved in organizing Red Ribbon Week in Questa kept remarking that this was the best Red Ribbon Week yet. READ MORE and SEE PHOTOS

Evening of Lights 2021 Recap

This holiday season, the Village of Questa partnered with the Vida Del Norte community coalition to organize the Evening of Lights which was held on December 4 in the village town center. During the Evening of Lights there was a tree lighting, a Christmas Tree tour, music, food, local craft sellers, a light parade and Santa even made a jolly appearance. READ MORE and SEE PHOTOS

Cool New Links

We have recently published a page with a list of interesting webinars about substance misuse, recovery and wellbeing. We also recently created a page to showcase videos, articles and webpages about youth leadership. We encourage you to visit the links below for some interesting and informative content when you have spare time. These are evolving resources and new links will be added to them in the future.  If you happen to come across any videos or websites that should be added to any of our resource pages please send the links to Rachel Kuc' at:

Webinars, Videos and Trainings Relating to Substance Misuse and Wellbeing

Youth Leadership Webinars, Videos and Resources

Upcoming Kids Matter Music Fest, end of summer update and other ongoing events

Hello from Vida Del Norte

We wanted to send everyone a quick end of the summer update to make sure that you all know about the Kids Matter Music Fest that is happening on Saturday August 21 from 2-7pm at 64 Gallegos Rd in Questa. There will be two local music groups playing: Mariachi Cielo and the UZ band. There will also be food and beverages for sale and free outdoor games. The National Guard is even coming with some activities like a totally awesome, inflatable obstacle course!
This music fest is going to be a fundraiser to help build a skate park for the youth in the Municipal Park in Questa. Tickets are $7 and KIDS GET IN FREE! The festival is also an opportunity to kick off Phase II of the Refuse to Provide Campaign that Vida has been working on with other local community organizations. The Refuse to Provide Campaign is an awareness campaign to stop people from providing alcohol to minors. Phase I of this campaign included putting up banners around Taos County and inviting people to sign a pledge to agree to not provide alcohol to minors. Phase II of this campaign is to “redefine the word party” and promote the idea that we do not need alcohol and drugs to have a good time. The Kids Matter Music Fest is going to be an alcohol and drug free event and Vida is asking that people do not bring in outside food or beverages.

To find out more about the bands playing at the music fest or to purchase tickets online please visit:

Please help us to promote this event online by sharing the Facebook event link:

To find out more about the Refuse to Provide campaign and to sign the pledge please visit:

Donate Baked Goods to Help with the Kids Matter Fundraiser

If anyone would like to donate any baked goods to sell at the music fest you can contact Maria the Coalition Coordinator at: (575) 779-2260 . Baking goods at home that are going to be sold is now legal thanks to the Homemade Food Act that went into effect in July. If you are able to donate baked goods please read and follow the simple guidelines of the Homemade Food Act that can be found here:

Other Ongoing Events at Vida

We also want to make sure that you all know that we are having Family Movie Night every Thursday outside of the Vida Del Norte space at 62 Highway 38 in Questa.  Screen time is at dusk which is a little after 8. Popcorn, Soda and Water will be available. You can visit to see what the upcoming show will be.  Please be aware that movies may be pg-13.

Teen Night, Fridays at Vida

Vida is now also hosting Teen Night, Fridays from 7-10:30. Teen Night is also at the Vida space, 62 Highway 38 in Questa. Youth ages 11-18 are welcome. Vida has Vollyball and Corn hole. Other activities include having a bonfire and making smores, dj our sound system, socializing with friends and other games.
WE ARE ACCEPTING DONATIONS OF GAMES OR ARTS AND CRAFT SUPPLIES to help make Teen Night more fun and engaging. If you have anything to donate you can bring it by the Vida space or call Maria @ (575) 779-2260. Thanks!

Join Vida Del Norte!

You can get more involved in the work that Vida does and in helping to prevent youth substance misuse in northern Taos County by joining the Vida Del Norte Coalition. One way to join Vida is to attend the monthly coalition meetings on the last Monday of every month at 6 pm. If you can not attend the monthly meetings you can still join our efforts and show support in other ways. Contact the Coalition Coordinator Maria Gonzalez at (575) 779-2260 to find out more.

This month the Coalition Meeting will be on Monday, August 30th at 6 pm. This meeting will be held in person at the Vida space, 62 Highway 38 in Questa and also on Zoom.
Here is the Zoom link and ID for the meeting:
or the Meeting ID: 857 862 0293

Donate to Vida Del Norte Today!

If you would like to help prevent youth substance misuse in northern Taos County by giving a tax deductible donation to Vida Del Norte today then click the button below. Thank You All and enjoy the rest of your summer!

June 2021 – Vida Summer Calendar

Vida Del Norte wants to share some of the events that they are helping to organize in Questa this summer. Put these dates on your calendar today to stay involved this summer and to have some safe alcohol and drug free fun.

Vida Town Hall Meeting
June 23 at 6pm at Vida Del Norte
– 62 Highway 38
When is Enough Enough?
Show up with your ideas of how we can:
- change the ways we use alcohol
- stop the negative consequences of overdrinking
- show our kids we can enjoy ourselves without alcohol
Let's protect our people!
Guest Speakers State Representative Kristina Ortez and Paster Peter Martinez from Living Word Ministries

Community Connections Days
You may have already read about the Community Connection Days in the June Issue of the Questa Del Rio News. These are monthly days of service and celebration where community members of all ages work together on a project that helps to make Questa special. Collaborators helping to organize these events include: LEAP (Localogy), Vida del Norte Coalition, Taos Behavioral Health’s SUCCESS youth program, Village of Questa, Trout Unlimited, and QEDF. Community Connection Days meet at 9 am with lunch served at 12:30.

  • On July 16 meet at Questa Municipal Park for a summer tree planting celebration and also a dedication ceremony where memorial plaques are placed by the newly planted trees. You can still dedicate a tree to a loved one for a donation of 100$. For more information visit:
  • On August 20 meet at Eagle Rock Lake
  • On September 17 meet at the Questa Farmer's Market location by the Visitor's Center

Family Movie Nights
Vida Del Norte is hosting a family movie night every other Thursday starting on June 24th and continuing through the summer. These movie nights are going to be held outside of Vida Del Norte, 62 highway 38. Movies will start at dusk. To find out what movie will be playing visit Vida movie night dates are as follows:
June 24, July 8, July 22, August 5, August 19, September 2, September 16

Back To School Supply Giveaway – July 31
Packets of back to school supplies will be handed out from 10 am – 1 pm at Vida Del Norte, 62 Highway 38

Summer Music Fest Fundraiser for Skate park
Outdoor Music Fest to raise money for building a Skate park for the youth in the Questa Area.
Featuring live performances by local musicians the UZ Band and Mariachi Cielo. Tickets will be pre sold online at or look for the Active8 youth selling paper tickets around town and at the gate on the day of the event. This event will be held at 64 Gallegos Rd across from the old La Cienega School and Gym. Gates open at 1:30, live music from 2-7. This is an all ages, alcohol free event. Kids get in free!

Police Appreciation Luncheon
Vida Del Norte has decided to host another Police Appreciation Luncheon this Fall to show gratitude to our local law enforcement and invite community members and officers to come together to share a meal and some conversation. This year Vida will be hosting the police appreciation luncheon on Friday October 29. This date falls during Red Ribbon Week which is a Drug, Alcohol and Tobacco prevention awareness campaign that happens annually in the United States. Red Ribbon Week is a perfect time to be thankful for the help that our local law enforcement does everyday to try and prevent substance misuse in our community.

Monthly Vida Del Norte Coalition Meetings
The monthly Vida Del Norte Coalition Meetings are open to the public and are a great time to find out what the coalition is up to and work with the community to come up with ways to prevent youth substance misuse. These meetings are at 6pm on the last Monday of the month and will now be held in person at Vida Del Norte, 62 Highway 38. People can also attend online via zoom at:

Be on the lookout for fliers around town for these events and visit to see if any other events come up during the summer. Also please visit us at Vida Del Norte or call Maria Gonzalez, the Coalition Coordinator at (575) 779-2260.

Fall and Winter 2020 Edition

Vida Del Norte wishes everyone a (slightly belated) Happy 2021!

We have not published a Newsletter since last summer so there is a lot to include in this issue. Amidst all of the difficulties of this past year, Vida Del Norte has kept moving forward with the effort of preventing substance misuse in the youth and our communities. Together with the help and support of our coalition and community members we have accomplished very good work during this difficult time.

Botvin LifeSkills Curriculum

Botvin Life Skills Training Logo
This school year, starting in August, Vida Del Norte was invited to participate in teaching a Life Skills class in the Questa Schools. Our coalition coordinatior, Maria Gonzalez has been trained to teach Botvin LifeSkills and has been volunteering her time to incorporate that into the curriculum in Questa.

The Botvin LifeSkills Training program is a groundbreaking substance abuse and violence prevention program based on more than 35 years of rigorous scientific research. Proven to be the most effective evidence-based program used in schools today, LifeSkills Training is comprehensive, dynamic, and developmentally designed to promote mental health and positive youth development. In addition to helping kids resist drug, alcohol, and tobacco use, the LifeSkills Training program also effectively supports the reduction of violence and other high-risk behaviors. 1

Vida Del Norte has been excited to be able to collaborate with the Questa Schools to bring the Botvin LifeSkills Curriculum to the students. Vida is currently seeking an intern to receive the Botvin LifeSkills Training and funding to eventually turn this into a full-time position so that we can reach more students with this prevention program. If you or someone you know might be a good fit for this internship position please call Maria at: 575) 779-2260 or email her at:

Reference Source:

Movie Night Under the Stars

As the summer came to a close and social distancing became a very real part of all of our lives, Vida Del Norte wanted to do some things to bring the community together in a safe way outdoors in an alcohol, drug free environment. We decided to start hosting a weekly, outdoor movie night. We hoped people would enjoy some time out of the house. We were able to host a number of movie nights before it got too cold. It was great to see all of the families and community members that got bundled up to come out and watch movies under the moon and the stars. We want to give a special thanks to the Village Stop and Go for letting us borrow their popcorn machine and giving us popcorn bags and butter, the Montecarlo for giving us popcorn and all of the local businesses who continually let us put up flyers for our events.
Active8 Youth at Movie Night in Questa

Outdoor Vida Town Hall

On September 17th, before one of our movie nights, Vida hosted an outdoor Town Hall meeting to discuss the data that was reported in the Youth Risk and Resiliency Survey that was conducted in the Questa schools. This survey assesses the number of students who use tobacco, alcohol, marijuana and prescription drugs without a prescription. The survey also assesses the perception of risk and perception of parental disapproval in students in regards to using these substances. The Vida coalition thinks that it is important to share this data with the community. The number of kids using these substances is higher in Questa then in the rest of Taos County and it is also higher then in the rest of the country.

You can see the entire results of this survey by visiting .

Police Appreciation Luncheon

On October 7th, Vida hosted a Police Appreciation Luncheon to show out support to our Law Enforcement Officers. Party On Rentals in Questa provided the tent, tables and chairs for this event and had their staff drop them off and set everything up. Tia's Cafe in Cerro provided the delicious food and Rael's Market donated coffee. Members of the Coalition and Active8 helped to set everything up, decorate and serve food. It was a fun afternoon for everyone who attended. Just about the entire Taos County Sheriff Department dropped by as well as some other officers. At the luncheon the youth members of Active8 presented the officers with a brochure that included some of the data about substance use with the youth in the Questa community. The officers commented that they were surprised at how high the numbers are and agreed that this something that they would like to help the community address. The luncheon gave the community and the members of Vida Del Norte an opportunity to thank our local law enforcement for their support as well as discuss concerns with them. The officers who attended were reassuring of their continued support in our area.

Red Ribbon Week

Vida kicked off Red Ribbon Week this October by collaborating with Harvest Questa and the Questa Independent School District to mail out red ribbons to all of the students. A distribution site was also set up on October 23 at Rael’s Market to distribute Prevention bags and Red Ribbons, while the Active 8 youth painted the town red with drug free messaging.


For Halloween Vida held a Virtual Pumpkin Carving Contest to encourage youth and and families to do something fun while spreading the #carveoutdrugs hashtag on social media. In the evening, Rachel and Maria handed out treat bags with prevention messaging to people doing drive by trick-or-treating. So many people still dressed up to have fun on Halloween.


Active8 members putting together prevention trick-or-treat bags
Members of Active8 putting together Trick-or-Treat bags with prevention messages and treats inside

Coffee and Conversation

In November, Maria launched the Coffee and Conversation series. These are virtual conversations hosted on both Zoom and Facebook Live that Maria opens up to the community to discuss important issues relating to prevention, recovery and well-being. Maria has been hosting these conversations twice a week on Monday and Friday at 9:30 a.m. She tries to bring on a special guest in as many of these conversations as she can. Coffee and Conversation continues to be a great opportunity for the community to engage with each other in dialogue about these important issues and we hope that you all will get a chance to tune in to participate in the conversation. You can view the past videos on Vida's Facebook feed: An archive of the videos is also being compiled on the Vida website:

Vida Online Auction

Vida also started hosting their first Online Fundraising Auction in the fall to raise money to turn the Vida space into a safe and fun environment for youth and the community. Lots of people donated items for the Auction and bidding took place until right before Christmas. Vida is so grateful to everyone who made a donation, placed a bid and helped spread the word to help make this fundraiser a success. Soon we will be able to gather again in safe ways and have some fun activities for the community at the Vida space with the money that was raised.

Meetings to Plan a Mentorship Program

In November some members of the coalition and the community started meeting on Zoom to discuss how to start a mentorship program and also provide more activities for the youth in the area. These meetings are still happening and these ideas are still developing. Vida would like to encourage everyone in the community to join in on this conversation. If you want to find out when the next mentorship planning meeting is happening please call Maria at: (575) 779-2260 or email her at:

Sharing our Space

For a few months this fall Vida was able to share the Vida space with Taos Behavioral Health who started offering a tutoring and support program to the youth in Northern Taos County. This program had to move onto a virtual platform because of social-distancing precautions. If you want to find out more about the services that Taos Behavioral Health offers to Youth and Families in Taos County you can visit or call them at 575-758-4297.


Yoga Sala

Yoga Sala offers moving arts classes – kids ballet and dance, yoga, qigong, tai chi, zumba and also hosts fun and creative workshops and activities.
Visit the Yoga Sala Website to see the schedule of classes, events and workshops. You can sign up for just one class or for many. Yoga Sala is also currently offering free classes for youth.

Holiday Lights !

In December Vida joined together with the Village of Questa and community volunteers to decorate the center of the village for the holidays. Some of the Active8 youth showed up to help and we were blessed with wonderful weather to be out there. Thank you to everyone who came together to help make the village more festive for the community during the holiday. It looked beautiful!

Questa Christmas Tree

That brought us to the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021! It was not an easy year but the community still came together and that made things easier.


March – June Edition

Congratulations Questa 2020 Senior Class!


On May 30th there was an honorary Parade for our 2020 Graduating class. When the idea transpired, Maria Gonzalez and Mary Flores began to lead the way to make this day possible. This was a community event in collaboration with Questa Class of 2020 senior parents, Vida Del Norte Drug Free Coalition, The Village of Questa, Questa and Cerro EMS, Taos County Sheriffs office, Harvest Questa,Living Word Ministries and other community members. The Vida Del Norte Coalition wants to thank all that helped to make this event possible.

The Vida Del Norte Coalition live streamed a video of this event on and also on our website for those who could not make it out to see it in person.  Here are a few photos taken from that video. More of these photos and an edited version of the video stream can be viewed online on our website at and also on our facebook and instagram pages (,

Active8 is staying busy this Spring!


The members of Active8 have been staying busy lending a helping hand in our community this spring.  They have been helping out at our local food bank and the other day they gave out close to 200 boxes of food! Also, some of the members of Active8 have been working as youth interns at the Questa Farmers Market. Here are some pictures of what they have been up to.

Active 8 has also conducted an environmental scan of our local alcohol establishments to determine the amount of alcohol advertising that the youth are seeing on a daily basis.

The scan showed us that
a great number of alcohol logos and images are present on our main highway.  Of the three alcohol-selling businesses, one had 9 advertisements , another had 19, and the third had 11. One business owner told us that all of these signs, neon lights and banners are provided free by the alcohol companies. It's interesting that other companies are not nearly as "generous" with free advertising! 

We were pleased that we did not see alcohol advertising anywhere other than at these businesses.  The scan showed us that, as a culture, we have become desensitized to the extent that alcohol is present in our lives.
We know that our brains are not fully developed until age 25, including the part that helps us make good decisions. Drinking alcohol at any age affects our ability to assess risk and make good judgments.
  Alcohol marketers have made alcohol look glamorous, fun and entertaining. This gives out the message that we need alcohol to have fun.
Vida Del Norte's focus is to shift that mindset in our community.  Starting with the youth, we hope to re-sensitize our children and adults to the effects that all the alcohol messaging that our kids are receiving can have a negative effect their health and safety.  Vida Del Norte will be placing positive messages throughout the community that portray ways to have fun and enjoy life without alcohol or drugs.  We will also be working with the local establishments to address the amount of advertising that we see daily, creating a more positive community for each of us to enjoy.
Environmental Scan Article by Janie Corinne and Maria Gonzalez


Here are some photos that were taken  during this environmental scan of alcohol advertising around town.


December 2019 / January 2020

Thanks to the Rio Del Questa News for publishing a great article in their February Edition. Here is an image of the article followed by the full text.


Vida Del Norte Coalition is a group of dedicated individuals working to prevent drug and alcohol misuse among the youth in our community. By breaking the generational cycles of addiction and though teaching and educating our community on healthier ways of living and interacting, the Coalition is making a big difference. Vida Del Norte uses an environmental prevention approach as opposed to the traditional individual model. Vida Del Norte has begun the implementation of policies and enforcement to ensure that this model is developed correctly.

Vida has collaborated with other local entities to host events that promote healthy and fun ways of living in our community. Vida’s first annual New Year’s Eve Masquerade event was one of them. Growing up in the Questa Community, I can always recall being at New Year’s Eve parties with my parents, with the adults drinking while us kids played and had fun. The risks were great... it was winter, adults were impaired and most times they drove home with us after a night of drinking. Through the years not much has changed, just new parents and kids, but the cycle is still present. Thinking how we can change this norm, we decided to begin a new tradition and host a New Year’s Eve event where the entire community could come and bring in the New Year in a fun drug  and alcohol-free way.

A 1920s-themed party where dinner was served to kick off the event enticed people to interact and engage with
one another. Adults, youth, and families joined in the fun of playing board games, engaging in conversation, and dancing. Several masks were made by adults and children alike that were worn throughout the night. The first bottle of sparkling cider was opened around 8:30 pm as some of the kids enjoyed their games of Monopoly and Uno, toasting to one another. There were intense games of chess with an adult and some kids. “That boy whipped my butt in one move!” William Borges said, speaking about a young man who had a good strategy. We celebrated the New Year with the east coast and the midwest time zones so those who wanted to make
it home early could still celebrate and bring in the New Year. Overall it was a successful event and we hope to continue with collaborative efforts to show our community a healthier way of living.

The Vida Coalition gathered two weeks later for our annual retreat at My Tias Café in Cerro, where we brain- stormed and planned strategically how we will continue to grow as a coalition and community in 2020. Many great ideas and actions were put into place at the retreat, motivating and exciting all the participants. The Coalition members had the opportunity to talk and ask our young Active 8 questions about the issues they are seeing and how adults can help. It was another successful re- treat for our Coalition! Stay tuned as we continue to implement our third year of prevention in Questa and surrounding communities. Vida Del Norte continues to seek active individuals who are willing and ready to help our community decrease substance misuse. To find out more about ways you can be involved please contact me!

Maria Gonzalez, Program Coordinator Vida Del Norte Coalition (575) 779-2260

Remember, if you want to make progress on the path and ascend to the places you have longed for, the important thing is not to think much but to love much, and so to do whatever awakens you to love. — St. Teresa of Avila

Submit Your Story

Your story can make an impact.
Sharing your story is a way of connecting and inspiring others who may be struggling. When you share stories about your journey in recovery you show people that they are not alone and that recovery is possible.

Stories will be published on the Vida Del Norte Coalition Blog and
may also be featured in our Newsletter, on our Facebook page or used for other promotional purposes.  Your story can be anonymous if you chose.
We thank you!

Quick tips:

  • Be as brief or write as much as you like. You can write directly into the message box provided below or write your story in a text editing program and copy and paste it into the text box if that you want to save a copy for yourself.
  • Don't worry about grammar, it is your story is important.
  • Don't be afraid to tell your truth and be authentic. If you have been through it someone else probably has too.

Telling your story can help you and others to heal.

Access resources to help you share personal stories about recovering from mental or substance use disorders.

October / November 2019


Join the Vida Del Norte Coalition this New Years Eve for our "Roaring into 2020 Masquerade!" This event is sure to be a great time for the whole family with music, food and all sorts of fun. Come and enjoy a fun night free from alcohol while we party down and bring in the New Year with style!


Our love for life and the the things that we do can help to keep us sober and give us a reason to stay that way. We want to know what you love to do. Please send us a picture and a description of you doing what you love. You can also send us a picture and description or a story about someone who inspires you. We will be posting these entries in our New Years Edition of our Newsletter. Help motivate your community by showing the world the great things that you you love to do.  Inspire your community by sharing stories and photos about the people and things that inspire you.
Please email photos and stories to our Newsletter Editor,

Vida Del Norte Coalition