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Live United this holiday season

How many times have you read a story in the newspaper or heard a news segment about someone in dire need?

It might be a battered wife, an abused child, a neglected elderly person, a young boy or girl without any guidance or family support, or a family without shelter.

You probably hoped that someone would do something to help those people out. Through United Way funding, you could be that person.

United Way is a devoted advocate for the community in which you live. Pagosa Springs is full of helping hands, warm hearts, and compassionate souls. As the needs of the human service organizations who specifically serve those living in Archuleta County have continued to increase, United Way volunteers have sought ways to make informed funding decisions that recognize need and how to best utilize available resources in our community.

Through this conscientious effort in identifying the best programs that have the largest impact on the well being of our community, the United Way has designated the following five impact areas in need of support: helping children and youth succeed; responding to those in crisis; supporting vulnerable and aging populations; developing self-sufficiency and independence, and fostering health and welfare. Agencies that are ultimately selected must fall under at least one of the five impact areas. Before United Way sends out any funds or asks any donor to consider giving, hundreds of hours are spent reviewing nonprofits to find the best of the best and does an extensive review of the following areas: audits; financial statements; budgets; IRS Form 99; the board of directors and how they govern; measurable statistics the program must supply for its clients that show how the program is working; how the program collaborates with other programs; the organization’s goals; how the program uses their volunteers, and plans for the future. As you can see, this review is VERY comprehensive and truly succeeds in identifying the best nonprofit organizations for your dollars.

This year, 15 local agencies will benefit from the campaign and include: American Red Cross, Archuleta Education Center, Archuleta County Victim Assistance Program, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Colorado, Colorado Housing Inc., Girl Scouts of Colorado, Habitat for Humanity of Archuleta County, Pagosa Outreach Connection, Pagosa Pregnancy Center, San Juan Basin Area Agency of Aging, Southwest Smile Makers Dental Program, Seeds of Learning, Southwest Colorado Mental Health Center, Southwest Conservation Corps, and Volunteers of America.

The funds and additional support from United Way through its dedicated volunteers will help enable these organizations to have a far greater impact on the community.

One in five people living in southwest Colorado turn to United Way partner agencies when they need a helping hand. Anyone’s life can change in a heartbeat and United Way partner organizations provide an important safety net of services for people in our community who need help. While the local organization is part of United Way of Southwest Colorado, what matters in this community may be quite different from what matters in other communities in the region. For this reason, the local organization operates with one part-time employee and many dedicated volunteers, who live and work in Archuleta County and are familiar with local needs and challenges. United Way is unique in that it supports the broad community rather than just one cause.

Many people tend to think that their charitable donations just end up paying for overhead. The United Way has an extremely low overhead of 12 percent (one of the lowest of non-profit organizations) and most of that is expended locally. The money raised in our county stays in our county!

Aside from funding for the local organizations, the United Way also provides the following:

• Qualification of partner agencies to be eligible to receive donations from federal and state employees.

• Trainings for our partners that help them to operate even better.

• Access to volunteers to help them fulfill their mission.

• Networking and collaboration opportunities by bringing these organizations together under one umbrella.

• Access to in-kind donations to help reduce their overhead costs.

• An incredible amount of PR opportunities to help get the word out to the community about their services. This happens through the employee meetings done with local employees, public service announcements secured from local radio and programs on Community Access TV, a monthly column in the Durango Herald, and many other media opportunities.

While the resource investment process helps United Way volunteers who are considering the agency’s funding requests, it also helps each agency as they seek grants from other sources. By rewarding funds based on how well programs demonstrate their effectiveness in addressing community needs, United Way’s process encourages more effective grant writing which ultimately means more dollars coming into the community to serve local needs.

You can be that person who “does something” for the less fortunate and those in dire need. ”This holiday season, please consider a one stop shop by supporting 15 local charitable organizations through one donation to the United Way.

Like to eat out?

There are many reasons to frequent the wonderful restaurants in our town this winter.

First of all, you don’t have to cook.

Second, you support local establishments with your hard earned dollars.

Third, you can make a free, no strings attached, $5 donation to United Way to help those in need in your community.

United Way wants you to leave the cooking to the professionals, and take part in the “Party Around Pagosa — Make Your Own Party” program.

From now until April 30, you can purchase United Way $25 gift certificates directly from the United Way, use them at any of the restaurants listed below, receive full face value, and $5 from each certificate will stay with the United Way.

The concept is simple: go to one of the restaurants and order your food (some restaurants will allow the certificate to be used towards alcoholic beverages as well) and then pay with the certificate. (Certificates cannot be used for taxes, tips, or prior balances and cannot be combined with other restaurants certificates, third-party certificates, coupons, or promotions.) Certificate payment is made to United Way, and $20 will be issued back to the restaurant upon use of the certificate.

The United Way hopes that you will support this program in that if you are going to eat out anyway, why not keep a few certificates in your car and have them available the next time you stop to eat at one of the following participating restaurants: Alley House Grille, Bacci Italian Restaurant, Bear Creek Saloon and Grill, Boss Hogg’s Restaurant and Saloon, Buffalo Inn Restaurant and Bar, Cafe Colorado, Dogwood Cafe, Dorothy’s Restaurant, Elk Horn Restaurant, Farrago Market Cafe, Higher Grounds Coffee Company, JJ’s Riverwalk Restaurant, Junction Restaurant, Kip’s Grill and Cantina, Nello’s Espresso Bar and Cafe, Ole Miner’s Steakhouse, Pagosa Baking Company, The Rose Restaurant, The Floured Apron and Bakery, and Victoria’s Cafe.

Certificates make wonderful and easy stocking stuffers, employee gifts, hostess gifts, or just as an incentive for eating out. Please support United Way, and the participating restaurants, in this endeavor to provide additional funding for the 15 local charitable organizations covered by United Way this year. Certificates are available for purchase from the Chamber of Commerce, United Way board members and volunteers, and from representatives of the 15 charitable organizations listed above.

For those of you who still long for the party atmosphere don’t miss the “Raider Hater Tailgater Party” starting at noon Sunday, Dec 20, at the Pagosa Pub Works Brew Pub. A $30 admission at the door, all of which goes to United Way, gets you tailgater appetizers and well drinks with various activities and games throughout the afternoon. It will be the party to remember this holiday season!

For further information about the United Way, contact Teddy Adler Finney, community relations coordinator, at 731-0484.