United Way kicks off yearly campaign

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Bill and Lois Bowman, United Way volunteers, left, take cover from the rain while talking to Rusty Miller, a volunteer with the Eastern New Mexico Food Bank Thursday during the United Way Kickoff Block Party.

By Gabriel Monte: CNJ staff writer

The rain didn’t keep United Way of Eastern New Mexico officials from celebrating during Thursday’s block party, which kicked off the organization’s fundraising campaign.

Officials are also optimistic they will meet the organization’s fundraising campaign goal of $627,000, which is 10 percent more than last year’s. The campaign ends in January.

About 30 people attended the event held in a closed off section on Main Street in front of the United Way office. Volunteers served hamburgers and refreshments. A food drive for the Food Bank of Eastern New Mexico was also held at the event.

“Rain or shine, the United Way’s here,” said food bank Executive Director Nancy Taylor.

Last year’s goal was $565,000, but the organization managed to raise $583,000.

“I don’t know how the economy will affect it, but a lot of times, when things are tough it inspires people to make sure there’s help for people who really can’t do it alone,” said United Way Executive Director Erinn Burch. “It’s sometimes when times are tough that people are inspired to dig a little deeper because they are sharing in their blessings.”

The money the organization raises funds 44 programs from 17 community organizations in Roosevelt and Curry Counties, Burch said.

Steve Reshetar, Matt 25 executive director, said while United Way doesn’t help fund his organization, it does organize collaborative efforts between organizations, including Matt 25, to facilitate relief efforts.

“They’re invaluable to the community,” he said. “It goes beyond what they just fund.”