United Dairy Women charity-driven

By Michael Harrell: Freedom Newspapers

Founded as a charity that aids charities, the United Dairy Women of the Portales and Clovis area has been an avid promoter of the dairy industry in supporting children and nutrition.

The group is involved in educational programs, public relations and supporting local charities such as the food bank, children’s homes and church missions, according to the organization’s founder, Michelle Heavyside.

Their newest fund-raising undertaking is today’s Dairy Fest, which celebrates Dairy Month and the organization’s one-year anniversary.

“Since 1939, June has been National Dairy Month,” Heavyside said. “It’s a reason to celebrate dairy and educate the community.”

The celebrations include plenty of dairy-oriented festivities. For $1 people are opened to a field of activities and free food.

The event also features plenty of booths set up by dairy producers to act as an educational tour for visitors.

Musical guests, including the Bellamy Brothers and Allie Brooks, will be performing throughout the event, said Heavyside.

The United Dairy Women was founded a year ago when a group of women embarked on a “Milk Mission” for children’s homes after they found out that one of the homes only allowed children to receive one glass of milk each day, according to Heavyside.

“We changed that,” she said. “In a couple of weeks we raised money for a whole year’s supply of milk for that home.”

The organization knew there were two other children’s homes in the area and wanted to aid them as well. They held the “Milk Lover’s Ball” in Clovis that raised more than $10,000. The money was donated to the homes to ensure that the children receive three dairy products each day, according to Heavyside.

“We have been very grateful for their graciousness,” said Geraldine Dooley, director of the Baptist Children’s Home. “For the most part they have paid for our milk every month.”

The women support the homes with almost anything in dire need, especially clothes and food, Dooley said.

“The main goal is to see that this generation of children receives enough calcium and to help the lives of adults in need,” Heavyside said.

The Dairy Women frequent the Lighthouse Mission where they donate things such as clothing, food and household items, according to Richard Gomez, the administrator of Lighthouse Mission in Clovis.

“In December, the women brought us all kinds of gifts to give to children during our Christmas program,” he said.

Lighthouse Mission serves about 100 people a day who need food, shelter or clothing, according to Gomez.

“Everything the Dairy Women give us, we use,” he said.

The United Dairy Women also consistently aids the food bank, which serves nonprofit organizations such as the children’s homes, by re-stocking its supply with dairy products and other food.