United Way campaign winding down

Benna Sayyed

United Way of Eastern New Mexico has surpassed last year’s pledges by more than $10,000 as it nears the end of its annual fundraising campaign. But it’s only slightly more than halfway toward meeting its ambitious $1 million goal with just 13 days left.

Executive Director Erinn Burch said United Way has raised $533,108 in pledges. Last year pledges totaled $522,599. The pledge campaign ends Feb. 10, said Burch.

Burch said money raised by United Way stays in Curry and Roosevelt counties.

“It’s about people helping their neighbors. As a community we’re going to see the impact of these donations every day all year long,” Burch said.

Burch said United Way is now moving into its grant-making process and has 37 applications submitted by 15 organizations.

United Way is seeking volunteers to participate in the process of deciding how grants should be allotted, which projects should receive funding and how much funding the projects should receive.

Burch said this grant process will wrap up in a February board meeting.

“We think that it’s important for us to get kind of a wider segment of the population, who sees community needs maybe differently than just my board members,” Burch said.

“I have 15 board members. We could all get together and make these decisions but we prefer that the community think about the need, think about the services being provided, and try to match our community priority. We want to hear from our donors in our community what is important.”

During the grant recommendation process, United Way uses community volunteers to review and ask questions regarding each proposal and work as a team to make recommendations. Volunteers help set the funding amount.

Thirty volunteers are used in Curry County and 20 volunteers are used in Roosevelt County.

Lois Bowman, a member of the Women’s Initiative Network of the United Way of Eastern New Mexico, relishes her work on the United Way funding panel.

“I think the pledge drive should accomplish involvement in the community. That’s why I like the drive and working on the funding panel. It’s not just made up of board members. It’s made up of anybody who wants to come and serve,” Bowman said.

Bowman said the panel provides citizens excellent insight to where their money is going in supporting the community through United Way.

Burch said all projects supported by United Way focus on education, income and health. In the area of education, projects aim to improve the ability of children to excel in school and graduate from high school. Other projects focus on helping families be financially stable and meet their essential needs. Projects also focus on programs that affect health and public safety and support victims of domestic violence and sexual and child abuse.

Burch said donations can still be made.

“We just ask people to be part of United Way and be part of supporting local families through local programs,” Burch said.

Questions about donations can be directed to Erinn Burch at 575-769-2103 or staff@unitedwayenm.org.