Community generosity recognized by United Way

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By Carol A. Clark

Key individuals and organizations received praise and appreciation during a special recognition banquet Monday evening at De Colores Restaurant.


The collective generosity of contributors this year raised more than $2 million for United Way of Northern New Mexico during the “People Matter” Campaign, which ran from Aug. 20 through Oct. 31.


“I feel very blessed to have done the campaign at this time,” Campaign Chairman Ralph Damiani said. “We have raised more than $2 million and that’s more than $200,000 more than last year and the big thanks has to go out to all the good folks at LANL.”


United Way Executive Director Donna Schroeder agreed saying, “this has been an amazing year for the lab.”  


Los Alamos National Laboratory employees contributed more than $1 million and Los Alamos National Security LLC matched all monies raised throughout the campaign to bring the total to more than $2 million.


“We’re really proud of our employees – I didn't think we'd make the million but we were committed to it and it really felt good all across the lab,” said LANL Deputy Director Jan Van Prooyen.


United Way Board of Trustees President Jerry Ethridge addressed the crowd of more than 100.


“You are a very special group of people,” he said. “Last year, 327 of you gave at the leadership level and this year 350 of you gave at the leadership level ... that’s almost a 7 percent increase.”


Ethridge also praised the group for increasing its giving by some 30 percent from $620,000 in 2007 to more than $820,000 this year. He encouraged the group to keep spreading the message about the importance of giving to United Way.


Executive Director Susan Mack of Family Strengths Network spoke about how lives are changed by United Way contributions and the measurable impact receiving agencies make on area families in need.


This year’s donations go to support improving health and healing, enriching the lives of seniors, strengthening families, and nurturing children and youth in Los Alamos and Rio Arriba counties.


Board member John Hofmann first initiated the organization’s annual youth campaign.


“Four years ago, when I was president of United Way, one of the first things I wanted to do was start a youth campaign,” he said. Hofmann recalled that Hill Diner co-owner Denise Lane and LANL’s Martha Waters co-chaired the United Way campaign that year and teens Quinn Girrens and Savannah Waters were the first youth co-chairs.


They raised $3,000. The program has continued to grow and Hofmann thanked all the people who have stepped up to help the youth volunteers each year.


Morris Pongratz chaired this year’s youth campaign, which raised some $10,000. He has agreed to chair the youth campaign again next year.


“One of the reasons we all re-up for this is the incredible staff at United Way,” Pongratz said. “Donna, Marie (Marroquin) and Carla (Gray Weiser) do a fantastic job.”


Damiani has agreed to a second stint as United Way chair.


“I remember standing here last year ... wondering if we could do even better this year ... and Ralph has done a wonderful job,” said Jill Cook of Los Alamos National Bank, who will become president of the United Way Board of Trustees in March.


LANB was praised throughout the evening for its generosity to the organization. The bank sponsored Monday's recognition banquet in conjunction with Los Alamos Medical Center.


“LANB ... in 2007 in February offered us office space and we have a wonderful suite of offices on the fourth floor,” Schroeder said.


The 2008 United Way board includes Ethridge, Cook, Hofmann, Gary Blauert, Don Cobb, Lauren Hull Earles, Ken Freeman, Guy Gaffney, Laurie Koontz, Ron Lovato, Carolyn Mangeng, Dara McKinney, Cedric Page, Sandy Podley, Lauren Reichelt,  Marcella Romero and Donn Wiese.


For information, call 662-0800, access www.LosAlamos.com/UnitedWay or stop by 1200 Trinity Drive, Suites 418 and 419.