United Way Sets Ambitious Goal

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Fundraising: Youth Team is key part of strategy

By Tris DeRoma

Each year, the United Way of Northern New Mexico just kept getting closer and closer. Last year, its Community Action Fund was able to fund 24 of its 31 grant requests. This year, the UWNNM is going all out and is going to try and fund the full 31.

“Twenty four were funded and 31 people asked,” UWNNM Executive Director Kristy Ortega said to the large crowd of business people and potential donors packed into the lobby of the Los Alamos National Bank last Wednesday night. “This year, we’d like to fund them all; and in the future, we’d like to fund them all, too.”

This year, she said, that’s going to take $1.6 million.

“This is what our community is asking for and I encourage you all to help us get there,” she said to the crowd after unveiling the goal on a big blue board for everyone to see.

To help meet the goal of funding every grant, the UWNNM’s strategy will be to encourage donors to give to the general fund instead of designating it to a specific cause.

“The amount we’ve been able to give out through the Community Action Fund has been decreasing because more people have been designating where they want their funds to go,” Ortega said. “That’s great, but this year we are encouraging people to give generally to the Community Action Fund as well.”

To help them along, UWNNM’s volunteers will be making donors aware that all donations will be going toward local causes and organizations.

They also have quite a few events planned throughout the year to help move the marker on the tracking board toward the $1.6 million goal.

The “Taste the Sky” event at the airport Sunday was just the first of many planned between now and October. “Atomic City’s Got Talent” will be at the Duane Smith Auditorium at 7 p.m. Sept. 30/; “High Tea on the Hill” will be from 1-3 p.m. Oct. 14 in the Los Alamos High School lobby and Hamburger Nite at the Hill Diner will be at 5 p.m. Oct. 29.

The UWNNM’s “Youth Team” organized the events.

“All of the funds we make go into United Way Fund and help make funding all of the grants possible,” said Youth Team Chair Jordan Ahlers. The Youth Team is a critical part of UWNNM’s fundraising efforts. Ahlers also said the events have been a great way to get the youth of Los Alamos involved in helping their community. “We’re trying to instill the values of volunteer work and everything that’s good about our community through these events,” she said.
Ahlers added that the Youth Team has added two new events to the roster as well as new members, so the message seems to be spreading.

“I really like the message that United Way has of supporting everybody in the community,” Ahlers said. My sister volunteered for United Way before me and my brother is going to volunteer for United Way after me. Volunteering is very important in my family and United Way is a very good way to do it,” she said.

Soumyo Lahiri-Gupta chaired the “Atomic City’s Got Talent” event, and he hopes to get a large turnout at Duane Smith Auditorium for the event. “We got music, we got singing, we got dancing, musicians, orchestras, everything that’s about talent that our generation has to offer,” he said.

To order tickets for the events, call 662-0800 or visit unitedwaynnm.org to learn more or donate directly to the UWNNM’s Community Action Fund.