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United Way kicks off annual fund-raising campaign

Photo courtesy Lisa Jensen
Liz Alley holds Layla Forrest, Mike Alley holds Maxx Ricker at Seeds of Learning. In front, from left, are Gavin Houston, Bella Werby and Jackson Kerth. The Alleys are this year’s United Way campaign chairs and Seeds of Learning is one of the many local organizations supported by United Way. United Way’s annual fund-raising campaign kicks off Sept. 24-30.

By Lisa Jensen

Special to The SUN

United Way’s annual fund-raising campaign kicks off Sept. 24-30.

Watch for our banner over Hot Springs Boulevard next week, and for our brochures to appear around town.

This year’s campaign chairs are Liz and Mike Alley, both of whom have long been involved in local community programs.

Mike moved to Pagosa Springs in 1995 and began working for La Plata Electric Association, which gives its employees their birthdays off if they donate a day’s pay to United Way.

Mike says, “I know my money is going where I planned for it to go. I’ve always been very pleased with United Way in Archuleta County for all their work to make this a better community; not only for adults, but children alike.”

Liz moved to Pagosa Springs in 1994 and immediately began to be involved in early childhood education and to advocate on behalf of families and youth.

“I was given so much by this community when I first moved here. It was a natural progression for me to desire to give back. To be a campaign chair, in my mind, is the ‘top of the line’ way in which I can be involved.”

This year marks the 40th anniversary of United Way of Southwest Colorado. In Archuleta County, our goal is to raise $83,000 this year. All funds raised in Archuleta County stay in Archuleta County, benefiting United Way’s 18 local partner agencies. A committee of local volunteers thoroughly reviews every funding application and interviews the agency to ensure it is operating efficiently, and that it effectively meets local needs in the areas of education, self-reliance and health.

You might think United Way is a large national organization; however every United Way operates independently and makes its own decisions. United Way of Southwest Colorado serves five counties in southwest Colorado, including Archuleta County. In Archuleta County, we have our own advisory council — a hands-on, hard-working and thoughtful team of volunteers who contribute their talents to meet our goal and are sensitive to the needs of our community.

United Way raises funds by asking employees to contribute through payroll deductions, by asking individual donors to mail a check or donate online, and through special events. We ask everyone to consider making a donation in an amount he or she can afford. Whether one person donates a dollar or thousands of dollars, every contribution is part of reaching our goal.

“Living United” also means volunteering your time and talents, and advocating to improve the condition of everyone in our community. “United, we stand. United, we elevate. United, we can change what we see in our world.”

United Way funds education programs that help youth or young adults be prepared for school, stay in school, make better grades, graduate from high school and attend higher education. Local programs are operated by Archuleta County Education Center, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Colorado, Girl Scouts of Colorado, Pagosa Waldorf Initiative, Seeds of Learning and Tri-County Head Start.

Self-reliance programs help families and individuals live within their means, become self-sufficient, earn a livable wage and save money. Funded partner agencies are American Red Cross Southwest Colorado Chapter, Archuleta County Senior Services, Archuleta County Victim Assistance Program, Habitat for Humanity of Archuleta County, Housing Solutions for the Southwest, Pagosa Outreach Connection, Pagosa Pregnancy Support Center, Southwest Conservation Corps and Volunteers of America Colorado Branch.

Health programs help people access affordable, quality physical and mental health care, and help people make healthy choices. Agencies operating these programs are Axis Health System, Pagosa Springs Youth Center and San Juan Basin Health Department’s Southwest Smilemakers Dental Program.

For more information about your local United Way, or about how to donate or get involved, contact the local office, generously donated by Jann C. Pitcher Real Estate, at 2261 Eagle Drive. Our mailing address is P.O. Box 4274, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147. You can also visit us online at www.unitedway-swco.org, e-mail lisaj@unitedway-swco.org or call 731 0484.

Mike and Liz Alley would like to encourage others to contribute to the Archuleta County United Way Campaign and experience the benefits of what we can all accomplish by giving and to be part of improving the lives of people in Archuleta County.

This story was posted on September 26, 2012.