United Way seeing greater needs

Kevin Wilson

United Way of Eastern New Mexico figures there’s plenty of need in Curry and Roosevelt counties, and they’re thinking six figures might be what it takes to provide for it.

The charitable organization is in the first stages of its annual fundraising campaign. This year’s goal: $1 million.

That’s almost twice the charity’s 2010 haul of $522,599, but, “We know we’re capable of it,” said campaign chairman Thom Moore.

“We’ve got 24,000 employed folks in the Clovis/Portales area,” Moore continued. “Of those 24,000, we have 2,000 givers. They give a little more than half a million dollars each year.”

In a situation repeated by Moore and UWENM Director Erinn Burch, the same donation from those 2,000 givers, and 50 cents a week each from the 22,000 other workers, would generate nearly $1.1 million.

“We know there’s no 100 percent,” Burch said. “We’re not saying everybody needs to fork over. But the idea is, it’s so doable.”

The campaign has already started at Clovis Municipal Schools, which has raised $59,593 — 20 percent more than last year. The fundraising drive concludes at the end of January, and the allocation process starts in February.

Moore said any employee can help, whether they give everything at once or give via payroll deduction, and whether they work at a national chain or a tiny mom-and-pop business.

“We’re blessed communities,” said Moore, a lifetime Clovis resident with the exception of his college years at Texas Tech and Eastern New Mexico University. “I think we’re sitting around 5 percent unemployment. We’ve been able to dodge this national recession to a certain extent. Given the national picture, I understand they’re a little more reluctant to give. That’s a natural response to a recession.”

But the signs of recession are still out there, Burch said, and a recession creates the greatest need for new services or expansion of services where the United Way is currently just scratching the surface.

“Our community needs it,” Burch said. “Our agencies and families could use help that’s a little deeper, help that’s a little more proactive and works towards long-term change in a situation and not just a fix.”

Burch thinks of those additional services when she gets calls from people who are living out of their vehicles, or struggling to pay for a weekly hotel room because they can’t save up for a rental deposit.

“Five years ago at United Way, we didn’t get those kind of calls very much,’ Burch said. “Now that’s a very common occurrence.”

In past years, the charity has announced different fundraising goals for Curry and Roosevelt counties. This year, Burch said the focus is on the total number, with the caveat that dollars raised in each county stay in that county.