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United Way kicks off campaign

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By Carol A. Clark

“Live United” is the slogan for this year’s United Way of Northern New Mexico giving campaign, which kicked off Monday at Central Avenue Grill.
“Give, advocate, volunteer,” was the mantra of the evening event attended by community members and campaign volunteers from Los Alamos National Laboratory. The laboratory’s 2011 employee giving campaign also kicked off Monday.
“We opened the campaign today at the laboratory and we already have 30 pledges,” said Kurt Steinhaus, director of LANL’s Community Programs Office.
Board of Trustees President Jill Cook has been working to reverse the trend of increased contributions designated to non-profit organizations outside northern New Mexico.
“This year we want to encourage people to donate to the Community Action Fund,” Cook said. “We are educating donors about the needs in our local communities and the value of their contributions when they stay in northern New Mexico.”
Jerry Ethridge is executive staff director for Los Alamos National Security, LLC (LANS) and United Way’s past president. He is the chair of United Way’s Cornerstone Program.
“Last year, the Board of Trustees challenged itself to create a Cornerstone Program designed to cover the administrative costs of United Way of Northern New Mexico with corporate donations rather than assessing individual donations,” Ethridge said. “Currently, we have seven Cornerstone Companies including Los Alamos National Bank, SOC Los Alamos, Los Alamos Medical  Center, Netuschil Development Corporation, RE/MAX of Los Alamos, Neptune and Company, Inc., and our newest member, Tsay Construction & Services, LLC.”
The Cornerstone Companies’ contributions for 2010 enabled United Way to invest all of the donations given to the Community Action Fund into the local community, he said. SOC Los Alamos donated a $10,000 check during Monday’s event. Morrie Pongratz heads up the United Way Youth Campaign. He introduced Soumyo Lahiri-Gupta, 14, and Kayla Suazo, 16, both of Los Alamos High School. The 2009 donations enabled United Way to fund 31 community partners,18 agencies and 13 grant program recipients.
The next United Way event is the Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce Golf Tournament to benefit United Way at 9 a.m. Friday at the Los Alamos County Golf Course. For information, visit www.UnitedWayNNM.org.