BENSON — Najayyah Many Horses, a Benson resident known for her community service work and support for those in need, has been inducted into Les Gemmes, Inc. a national organization with a focus on promoting positive influences within local communities.
“This organization started in 1955 as a club of four women in Virginia who wanted to do good things for their community,” said Many Horses, who went to Washington, D.C. from June 24-27 for the induction ceremony.
Les Gemmes, a French word meaning the jewels and pronounced “lay gem,” became a national organization in the 1960s.
“It grew from a club of four women who worked together doing community outreach projects, to hundreds of Les Gemmes organizations across the country,” Many Horses said. “I’m part of the chapter out of Washington, D.C., but my dream is to start a chapter in this area.”
Open to women 21 years of age and older who subscribe to the organization’s mission of community outreach, volunteerism and military support, chapters across the country come together and network for different nonprofits to help fulfill specific needs identified in communities.
“For example, I helped put together emergency assistance supply kits for individuals in abusive situations through the group I was working with in D.C.,” Many Horses said.
Many Horses was one of 11 women inducted into Les Gemmes in June.
“Eight of us worked together creating the supply kits to help victims of domestic violence,”she said. “We were from different states and met on Zoom and emailed each other to complete the project by a deadline set by Les Gemmes.”
When it all came together, more than 100 kits containing a wide range of supplies were submitted.
“It was an amazing experience,” Many Horses said. “Some of these women work regular jobs, while others work for charities they’ve established. The women I was inducted with came up with a project and we worked together to make the project happen.”
When it comes to community service, Many Horses has made a for herself in Cochise County.
She serves as president of the Community Food Pantry of Benson and has worked behind the scenes to expand the pantry’s reach through her volunteer work. She and a core group of volunteers organize fundraisers, hold free cooking classes and work tirelessly on food distributions for those in need.
In September 2020, Many Horses organized a tribute to veterans — “A Heroes Welcome” — to honor American veterans of all wars dating back to World War 1 in 1914 through the current conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Veterans from all over the state attended the first event, held at the San Pedro Golf Course.
While serving as office manager for the Benson Chamber of Commerce, Many Horses created ways of bringing businesses and the city together to benefit the Benson community.
“Through my work at the chamber, we organized such family-oriented events as Christmas Off Main and we brought the history of Benson to the forefront through Butterfield Days.”
Constance Davis, a Les Gemmes chapter president out of Washington, D.C, and Maryland, saw the work Many Horses was doing in the Benson area and extended her an invitation to be part of the organization.
“Her invitation is what led to the induction in June,” Many Horses said. “It’s really an honor to be a part of a group of women that do much more than charitable work. We’re like-minded women and are passionate about making a difference. We’re like a family, or a sisterhood where we encourage and lift each other up.”