Two charities united may be the only way

By Mike Linn

Roosevelt County United Way board members will meet at noon today to discuss joining forces with the Curry County United Way. Many RCUW officials are enthusiastic about the merger. Others are concerned.
Board member Leo Lovett of the RCUW said he is for the merger and hopes the board will make a decision today to pursue the venture.
“I feel that for use of resources the merger is the right thing to do for Roosevelt County,” Lovett said. “I think our main concern as board members as a whole is what is going to be best for our Portales agencies.”
RCUW Vice President Sharon King, who has a been on the board for eight years, is concerned the merger could negatively impact financial allotments to Roosevelt County agencies.
“My concern is: Have we really done everything we can before talking about a merger with another county?” King said.
King said no member of the board has received formal training from the United Way’s national office, something she would like board members to pursue.
“I feel like we can make a lot of improvements and certainly feel better about what we’re doing if we would just better organize our own board,” King said.
The merger would benefit Portales because it would allow two full-time employees in Curry County to conduct some campaigning in Roosevelt County as well, said Curry County United Way Executive Director Erinn Burch.
“I think most people are willing to give it a try,” Burch said. “They’re positive about it. We’re too close together to expend so much energy doing the same thing.”
However, Burch said some people are “nervous about the realities” of how the merger is going to work out.
Without a full- or part-time campaigner in Roosevelt County, the RCUW fell $8,000 short of its $70,000 goal in 2003 and $10,000 short of that same goal in 2002. By contrast, the CCUW raised over $350,000 in 2003.
RCUW board member Everett Frost said he will make a decision today on whether he will support the merger after hearing comments from other board members.
“We need to make sure the agencies of Roosevelt County get the kind of support they need,” Frost said.
Of the 12 agencies supported by the RCUW, eight of those agencies are also supported by the CCUW.
If the merger goes through, an office for a full-time campaign employee in Roosevelt County could be slated for the future, Burch said.
RCUW officials said an informal survey from about a dozen people proved that for the most part Roosevelt County residents were for the merger.
Likewise, Burch said a survey of Curry County donors yielded positive responses about the merger.
Both non-profit United Way branches help fund various agencies in their respective counties. The RCUW helps fund the Boy Scouts, Habitat for Humanity and the Community Services Center, among others.