United Way scales back goal

By Gabriel Monte: Freedom New Mexico

The United Way of eastern New Mexico is scaling back its fund-raising goal with a target it was able to meet the previous year.

This year’s campaign chairman, Todd Morris, announced the organization’s $580,000 fund raising goal during Thursday’s United Way annual banquet at the Clovis Civic Center.

The organization also honored its volunteers and officers with awards.

The United Way raised $580,000 during its 2007-2008 fund raising campaign.

Organization officials said a tough economy was to blame for missing the 2008-2009 goal. The organization collected $530,000 or 84 percent of its $627,000 goal.

But an optimistic Morris said he believes they will be able to raise more money in the upcoming campaign, which starts in September.

“I still think we can challenge people in our region to push harder and deeper,” he told the more than 200 people attending the banquet.

Clovis Municipal Schools Superintendent Rhonda Seidenwurm was the first speaker of the night. She spoke about the importance of annual company meetings promoting United Way.

Oasis Child Advocacy Center Executive Director Hank Baskett also spoke about United Way’s role in funding agencies such as his.

Clovis resident Keri Crawford shared her story about how the United Way’s Day of Caring Committee helped her raise money for a playground for children in her neighborhood. The committee is also recruiting volunteers to build the playground.

“They’re willing to help me advocate for the children in my neighborhood,” she said. “When this is done, the (children are) going to love it.”

Executive Director Erinn Burch presented an award to the Allsup family for their support of United Way’s 211 help directory.

Leo Lovett, who served as United Way President for two years received an award for his service. Burch said presidents usually serve a one-year term.

Lovett said he decided to take on another term because he wanted to begin new initiatives the national organization was implementing, which included reducing the number of high school dropouts.

“Truly, United Way is changing from a money-collecting (agency) to being an advocate in our community.”