UWENM ~ Locally Organized and Locally Led
In 1960, the Curry County United Fund was organized to consolidate the fundraising efforts of local human service agencies. The Fund was established on the belief that a concentrated effort to reach out to the community annually would ultimately produce better results than each agency repeatedly asking local individuals for funding throughout the year. In 1973, the Community Fund became Curry County United Way.
In 2005, the Roosevelt County United Way and the Curry County United Way officially merged to form a combined dual-county United Way. The new dual-county United Way was named United Way of Eastern New Mexico (UWENM) in March of 2005. Over our history, United Way of Eastern New Mexico has invested over $13,250,000 into our communities, providing vital services to our neighbors in-need in both counties.
UWENM is focused on changing the conditions that exist in our community which impact education, income and health. One powerful tool for community for change is the Day of Caring. Since 2006, UWENM has held a Day of Caring to mobilize volunteers in improving our community. From cleaning up parks, to building a playground, to preparing the lot of a Habitat for Humanity house, to helping reconstruct the damaged Dream Center in Portales. Day of Caring projects bring many different people and organizations together to transform neighborhoods.
In 2007, 2-1-1 was introduced to Curry and Roosevelt counties after the F5 tornado hit Clovis earlier that year. 2-1-1 is a free information and referral service provided by United Way. 2-1-1 is an easy to remember phone number that connects people to the help they need. Currently, 2-1-1 averages over 130 calls per month (total 1533 callers in 2012) and the volume keeps growing as awareness of the program expands. In addition, 2-1-1 allows UWENM to provide fans in the summer and heaters in the winter to families in need. Over 40 fans and over 80 heaters were distributed in 2013.
United Way played a significant role in the response and recovery of the community after the 2007 Tornado. Immediately following the disaster UWENM called the churches and community organizations together to focus on reducing duplication of efforts and to tackle the long-term recovery of affected families. UWENM was the fiscal agent for the community-wide (and statewide) fundraising effort and managed those funds on behalf of the ENM Disaster Recovery Committee made up of many church leaders and community groups who directed the work of a case-worker. In the end over 88 families were aided with the $105,000 in donated funds.
Created in 2009, Zenith Youth Leadership Academy— a research based program developed by Christina Martinez-Guajardo to encourage our young people to reach their potential by focusing on their strengths and developing diverse peer relationships. This program has worked with over 50 -6th, 7th and 8th graders over the years. As a reward for completing the 8 month program, this year the teens will be participating in the NM Youth Alliance Conference in Albuquerque and conclude with a tour of the campus of University of New Mexico.
Many people in our communities can’t afford their long-term medications because they lack insurance and finances are tight, so for the second year United Way has partnered with MedBank New Mexico to help individuals in our Curry and Roosevelt Counties find prescription assistance. While anyone can apply for these services, the paperwork and documentation are daunting, even with our assistance the process to compile a complete application can take weeks and many phone calls with doctor offices and other difficulties. UWENM’s assistance is vital to making that occur. In 2012, 17 individuals were approved to receive free medications through the help of UW and MedBank saving their families over $63,000 for twelve months of medications.
Again responding to the needs of 2-1-1 clients, in 2012 United Way partnered with New Mexico Legal Aid and the Clovis/Portales Board of Realtors to offer free educational Tenant Rights Seminars to increase awareness of laws and responsibilities of all parties regarding renting and leasing homes and apartments.
2012 was the first full year that United Way and 12 local churches and charities shared client information through a secure database called Charity Tracker forming our local network ENM Helping Hearts & Hands. ENMHH provides open communication between organizations that help struggling families. By sharing client data and communicating about unmet needs, ENMHHH members can make better decisions when rendering assistance and have the chance to see that assistance make a bigger impact through collaboration. United Way is the network administrator, technical support and #1 cheerleader for ENMHH’s use of Charity Tracker: recruiting and training churches and non-profits in the uses and benefits of the system.
After the Feb. 2012 Clovis Apartment Fire, numerous local organizations pulled together to respond to the disaster: 12 families (29 adults and children) were made homeless in one afternoon. By working together, centralizing fundraising with United Way again as the fiscal agent and utilizing each organization’s expertise, the coalition worked with families for five months until all were back in permanent housing situations. Charity Tracker played an important role in that event as well.
Game Changers. In 2013, UWENM partnered with other local helping organizations like Salvation Army, Lighthouse Mission and Hartley House to fill gaps and “finish the job” of helping someone in need with our Game Changer Fund. Together we helped 20 families avoid homelessness and helped 21 people get the ID and birth certificates they needed to apply for jobs & housing. We are looking forward to utilizing Game Changer funds to grow our partnerships with Life Skills at Matt 25, Wheels of Love, and various ENM Helping Hearts & Hands organizations.
Another new project at United Way is Winning at the Game of Life a family financial stability program. Partnering with High Plains Federal and financial well-being consultant Lisa Kia a six month program was created to help working adults gain new skills and perspectives on managing their money. 25 families began their financial well-being journey in January 2014 and will celebrate their new found confidence and knowledge at the end of the course in June. All the participants have shown great enthusiasm and made great progress so far.