Local legend Dr. Joe Schiel Jr. is Santy Claus at Christmas for the Artesia Public Library, retired science teacher for the Artesia Public School district, and epic cookie baker. From the traditional chocolate chip to the weird and wonderful foreign types like Welsh cookies, Dr. Joe makes them all and gives them all away. Seriously, he enjoys only one or two of his creations each week. The rest of his bakes go to his church family at First United Methodist Church, the staff at Kith + Kin, and to special projects or events around town like the muralists of “Under a Sky of Azure ” and participants of Boy Scout Troop reunions.
In addition to his regulars, Joe has taken up the challenge to bake 1,800 cookies for the staff of Artesia General Hospital. Every member on staff of Artesia General (that’s 400 individuals) will receive 6 cookies baked by the cookie master himself. Joe began Homecoming week, and as he was interviewed, he was another 18 dozen in of cherry and almond cookies. 18 dozen equates to 218 cookies. The massive baking project is underway to spread joy around the hospital as an initiative through the Artesia General Hospital Foundation which Joe helped to found back in 2006. He served on the board for seven years.
The hospital foundation has three main emphases besides general morale: the scholarship fund, the emergency fund, and the capital fund. The capital fund supports capital projects. The scholarship fund is for all hospital employees from custodians to doctors looking to further their education. The Foundation gave in excess of $100,000 in scholarships. Employees have used funds to become Certified Nursing Practitioners, Registered Nurses, or business degree holders. If you’d like to read more about the foundation or about the scholarship fund read more here.