2020 began with an amazing addition to UWENM's focus on #YouthSUCCESS, when we became a Dolly Parton Imagination Library affiliate for Roosevelt and DeBaca Counties. Allowing children under 5 in those counties to receive FREE monthly books -just for them- for the first time. Currently 422 kiddos are getting these precious gifts every month.
Then COVID19 shifted everything. As you read in the 211 and VAC section, we put all our energy into supporting the vital services that local families depend on daily.
Of course we kept our committments to our 13 local grant partners and 40 other charities receiving designated funds. Together those investments totaled over $270,000 for maintaining programs and assistance across our area. Key to smoothly meeting 2020's challenges has been our Office Manager Debbi Smith--making sure that everything happens in a timely and proper manner.
Even with the pandemic creating challenges we made progress in our #YouthSUCCESS Workgroups, identifying a family engagment tool "Ready4K" that will provide parents with helpful tips and suggestions for supporting the developmental, emotional, and educational needs of their children-even providing timely information about local resources. The program will be available very soon in partnership with Clovis Municipal Schools and other partners. These supportinve text messages have been shown to have numerous learning and emotional benefits for children and families. UWENM, through a grant, is able to help local child serving organizations add this to their family outreach.
Another #YouthSUCCESS Workgroup has elevated the need for increased mental health services to the attention of regional leaders, opening a discussion into the potential of building an InPatient Mental Health Facility in our area-since over 200 clients require transport each year. This discussion is moving forward and we hope that a feasiblity study will soon be announced.
2020 was also a Census year and we were part of both Roosevelt and Curry Counties' efforts to ensure an accurate count. Accurate Census data is critical for our area non-profits, schools, hospitals and more, therefore UWENM worked hard sponosoring events and mobilizing volunteer outreach to educate and inform our residents at risk of being missed in the enumeration.
This fall our annual fundraising season began and we were ready with online giving forms, zoom and video presentations, and social media buzz. Kaylee Vineyard our Campaign Outreach Associate transformed our world to match the needs of businesses and organizations seeking COVID19 Safe Practices for employee giving. Online giving and virtual events have become the *new normal* as UWENM engages our donors and the public in FUN and fundraising. Successful virtual events like the Southwest Cheese Truck Pull and two WIN Luncheons have shown us that people still love to gather (for a zoom) and love to win prizes (especially cheese.) These efforts are more important this year than ever before, since the pandemic has affected so many local businesses and employees' families.
Uniting Neighbors and Changing Lives is our core mission. 2020 is putting us through our paces but we will perservere and bring hope and help to our community in 2021 and beyond.
Erinn Burch-Executive Director