United Way recognizes tornado recovery effort

By Helena Rodriguez: Freedom New Mexico

PORTALES — The anniversary of the March 23, 2007, tornado that ripped through the Clovis area, is a little more than a week away. However, the storm was fresh on people’s minds Thursday night at the United Way of Eastern New Mexico’s annual banquet.

United Way officials and area residents celebrated tornado recovery efforts, recognized individuals who helped with the tornado recovery effort, and also recognized donors to its 2007 campaign and volunteers. United Way announced last week that it has collected $580,000 for Curry and Roosevelt counties during its 2007-2008 campaign. The money will be used to fund 16 non-profit groups in Curry County and nine in Roosevelt County.

The banquet in the began by first recognizing the Eastern New Mexico Disaster Recovery Council, which was formed to help fill the needs of tornado victims. Through the council, Ken De Los Santos, the Curry County/Clovis Emergency Management Director said, “We were able to assist with 200 cases of unmet needs from the disaster.”

The tornado left a trail of destruction, damaging more than 500 homes and buildings in the area and was blamed for two deaths.

In recognizing the agencies that played a central part in the recovery effort, United Way Executive Director Erinn Burch, said, “Everyone in the community has played a part.”

During the banquet, United Way also celebrated serving, giving and leading. In celebrating giving, Jamie Ingle, who was honored with the President’s Award, said, “Tonight we pay tribute to the corporations, workplaces and individuals who invest tremendous resources to make real and lasting change possible for the people of Curry and Roosevelt counties.”

United Way of Eastern New Mexico funded 47 agencies this year with Roosevelt and Curry counties. Roosevelt County raised more than $90,000, which was a 30 percent increase over last year. In the process, the county added several new campaigns and Corporate Cornerstone donors.

As for Curry County, the county met and exceeded its 2007-2008 goal, even with the tornado recovery and the base population at its lowest level, according to a United Way news release.

The fundraising goal for next year is 627,000, according to Bond.