This article is one in a series of stories focusing on local agencies that receive support from the United Way of Chaves County, which is currently conducting its annual fundraising campaign.
The 2013 United Way campaign benefits five affiliate agencies providing legal aid, mentoring for youth, support with groceries and other services.
Affiliates differ from member agencies in that they have been involved with United Way for shorter periods of time. They receive only United Way funds specifically designated for them by donors.
This year, affiliate organizations include New Mexico Legal Aid, Down Syndrome Foundation of Southeastern New Mexico, Big Brothers Big Sisters, The First Tee of the Pecos Valley and food bank Loaves and Fishes Community Development Corporation.
United Way of Chaves County Executive Director Sherry Mumford said affiliates make important contributions to the region.
She said youth mentoring program Big Brothers Big Sisters and Loaves and Fishes stand out to her for services they provide.
Loaves and Fishes provides food boxes for Pecos Valley residents who can’t afford groceries. Mumford said the organization provides food for many elderly residents, some of whom care for their grandchildren.
“So many people these days have hard times making ends meet,” said Mumford.
Stacy Heacox, who supervises matching of mentors with children for Big Brothers Big Sisters, said BBBS is one of few free mentoring programs in the Chaves County area.
“I don’t really believe people can get fully ahead in life unless they have a role model that encourages them,” she said.
BBBS focuses its services on children from low-income families. Heacox said there are about 30 children enrolled in the program.
She said United Way donations “keep us afloat because we’re a non-profit foundation and because we don’t charge for our services.”
NMLA Executive Director Ed Marks also said United Way funds are vital for his organization.
He said some of the funds go toward retaining two full-time lawyers at its Roswell office. These lawyers provide free legal counseling and services in the areas of family law, housing law, consumer law and public benefits.
Agencies must spend two years as United Way affiliates before applying for membership. Once an organization has achieved membership, it is eligible for United Way donations not earmarked for specific organizations.
Mumford said roughly 80 percent of United Way funds are undesignated.
You may donate to United Way of Chaves County by phone at (575) 622-4150 or online at unitedwayccnm.org. The 2013 campaign runs from Aug. 15 to Nov. 15, but donations are accepted after the campaign officially ends. For donations to be tax deductible for this year, donate by Dec. 31. Last year, the campaign raised $522,547. This year, the organization aims to raise $525,000. Mumford said that thus far, the organization has raised approximately $210,000. “I think we’ll meet our goal,” she said.