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United Way campaign surpasses goal, sets new record

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By Carol A. Clark

Amid appreciative praise and enthusiastic applause, United Way officials thanked many organizations and individuals whose efforts contributed to this year’s record-breaking campaign success. Los Alamos National Security LLC (LANS) and Los Alamos National Laboratory Director Michael Anastasio received the highest praise during Monday evening’s annual Recognition Banquet at De Colores. For the second year in a row, LANS has matched campaign contributions dollar for dollar and helped the organization reach new financial heights.Last fall, United Way of Northern New Mexico, serving Los Alamos and Rio Arriba counties, set a $1.5 million goal. The final tally announced Monday was more than $1,750,000.Campaign Chair Jill Cook of Los Alamos National Bank praised LANS for putting the campaign over the top. “Their generosity has meant so much,” Cook said. “I want to thank them for matching the contributions we receive.”LANL Director Michael Anastasio attended the banquet with Johnnie Martinez, acting director of LANL’s Community Programs Office. They sat with Los Alamos County Administrator Max Baker and his wife Kathryn. “I’d like to thank the organizations that take our money and do really good things with it,” Anastasio told the large crowd that filled the dining room despite the evening’s snowy weather.United Way Board of Trustees Vice President Jerry Ethridge said because of LANS match, the organization was able to initiate a grants program, which goes well beyond funding member agencies. Ethridge will move up to board president in March and laid out a few of his plans. “The grants program allows us to fund special requests and I’d like to continue that,” he said. “I also plan to hold a strategy meeting to map out next year. We’ve been at a steady state for awhile and part of the strategy plan is to determine what special needs might be out there.”Ethridge praised LANL employees for their generosity toward United Way. While a lesser percentage donated this year, he said the total dollars contributed exceeded last year’s donations.“If we continue that trend and get that balance of people who are not giving, then there’s no telling what we could give to our grants program,” he said. “Carolyn (Mangeng) and the board have done a good job in strengthening relations with the lab and I’d like us to build on that to see an even larger number of employees give. Even a modest amount can make a big difference.”Cook thanked LANL employees, community members, corporate givers and all the volunteers who participated in the campaign, including the youth community for their efforts and generosity.Under Cook’s leadership, this year’s campaign included a number of new events. “It was an exciting year,” she said. “We hosted a tea party and a bowling event in Española, which were very well received and supported by the community. I felt honored to help coordinate this year’s campaign effort.”Area corporations donated some $375,000, said United Way Finance and Campaign Director Marie Marroquin.This year’s top Workplace Financial Givers in the $50,000 category are LANB and KSL. For many years, LANB has consistently been one of United Way’s largest contributors and biggest suppliers of employee volunteers. PTLA employees contributed at the $10,000 level. Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corporation, Los Alamos Medical Center, REMAX of Los Alamos, Shaw Environmental & Infrastructure Inc. and Smith’s Food & Drug Centers Inc. contributed at the $5,000 level. Many other organizations contributed $2,500 and below.“I’m thrilled that the campaign did as well as it did during this time of stress, particularly the laboratory population with the budget uncertainties,” said United Way Board of Trustees President Carolyn Mangeng. “In times of stress and uncertainty, it’s really important to have these agencies for support.”United Way Executive Director Donna Schroeder said the campaign’s top individual contributor was Mike Strevell and his wife Nancy, who asked their contribution  go to Crossroads Bible Church and Hope Pregnancy Center.“I was just thrilled to hear that LANS would match our donations to the non-profit organizations we support,” Strevell said. “I encourage everyone to take advantage of LANS’ matching funds and give to United Way.”Strevell, who has worked in LANL’s project management directorate for five years, explained Hope Pregnancy Center is close to his heart because “they support women who are in a crisis pregnancy and their babies.”Hope Pregnancy Center Executive Director Sarah Taylor was clearly appreciative of the Strevell’s generous donation. “As a nonprofit, we work entirely on a donation basis and this allows us to offer services to the community such as free pregnancy testing, peer counseling and parenting classes,” Taylor said. “We offer an ‘earn while you learn’ program in which mothers earn points to exchange for baby formula, diapers and other needs. It’s a way to assist women with their practical needs while also helping with their emotional needs.”Taylor said Hope Pregnancy Center offers women options. She spoke of her own crisis pregnancy at 19 and said in looking back she feels she might have made other decisions had she been made aware of the options available to her. Taylor expressed great satisfaction in having the opportunity to help others in similar circumstances.“A lot of times women think they don’t have options and what we do is provide them with hope.” YMCA Executive Director Linda Daly and Los Alamos Visiting Nurses Executive Director Sarah Rochester each shared heartwarming stories about people served by their organizations through United Way funding.