This profile about one of our steadfast volunteers, Nathan Padilla of Roswell, is the second in a series recognizing our volunteers and staff to show appreciation for the work they do and their commitment to improving health in New Mexico.
Two monumental events in Nathan Padilla’s life– his struggles with a cocaine addiction and the birth of his son 24 years ago — led him to his purpose as founder, director and clinician of a substance abuse treatment center in Roswell.
“I get back by helping others, by teaching them different ways to make change happen,” he said. “I do believe this is what I’m supposed to be doing.”
The Roswell native is celebrating the 15th year of the nonprofit he founded, Embrace, which offers family parenting support and mental and behavioral health therapy to ages four and older. Services include the largest outpatient program and the only teen recovery program in a town of almost 50,000 residents in southeastern New Mexico.
And his son – the reason Nathan got sober – is finishing his bachelor’s degree in psychology with the plan of achieving his master’s in social work so he can eventually take over Embrace.
“When I had my son, that’s what told me I needed to change,” said Nathan, a LCSW and president of Con Alma Health Foundation’s Board of Trustees.
Nathan raised his son, Nathan Anastacio Padilla, as a single father, devoting his life to family, behavioral health and community service. He gives back through his nonprofit and his volunteer work, supporting the Chaves County Health Council and Chaves County Behavioral Health Committee and as president of the New Mexico Addiction Education Network.
Helping people overcome addictions is personal work for Nathan who struggled to find stability after his dad died when he was 14. He started working a year later to help support his mom but, in his grief, gravitated toward unhealthy choices and drug use. When his son’s mother was arrested in the first month of baby Nathan’s life, he pledged to become a sober father.
Today he has earned a master’s in social work, a bachelor’s in psychology and pre-med biology, and an associate degree in chemistry. In addition to behavioral health treatment, Embrace partners with the Roadrunner Food Bank to host a mobile food pantry, provides ongoing suicide awareness and training, offers free medical and psychiatric clinics, operates an outreach center for youth, and has worked with the GRADS program for expectant and parenting teens. He received a mentor award from GRADS in 2016.
“I don’t think I can ever go to a store without seeing someone who says, ‘Hi and thank you.’” he said.
His volunteer work with Con Alma has given him opportunities to reach New Mexicans in a broader way, helping choose grants that support people with issues that affect their quality of life, such as stable housing, domestic violence programs, suicide awareness and healthcare legislation for people exposed to radiation in New Mexico.
“I saw the different needs of New Mexico and approaches for addressing those needs,” Nathan said.
He believes Con Alma has made an impact with small and multi-year grants in all corners of the state. This year, the statewide foundation will distribute $1,000,000 ranging from $15,000 to $25,000 grants to support nonprofits in improving health in New Mexico. Nathan is working with board members and staff to plan a bigger impact with the $5 million Mackenzie Scott gift awarded to Con Alma.
In the meantime, he and other family members are caring for his mom who has cancer and is living with him. He’s keeping up with the demand for behavioral health services in Roswell, noting that his work pressures him to be a role model in his community.
“You got to walk a certain way, and it helps me be the best person I can be for my son and for my family and community,” he said.
Congratulations to Nathan Padilla for embracing health and family and community. It’s our pleasure to work with him!