Community responds to Routt County United Way

Agency meets its goal, reaching $365,000

— Routt County United Way announced Tuesday its 2003 campaign contribution goal has been met.

The response to growing need in the community is overwhelming, United Way board member Tom Palmer said.

Residents pledged to give $365,000 to health and human service agencies in the county this year. About $326,000 was raised in 2002 for the agency, which serves infants, the elderly, families, youths and those with special needs.

"Businesses and individuals were more generous this year than ever before," Routt County United Way campaign manager Sheila Wright said. "It's a real tribute to our communities that we dig deep when the times are tough."

Concerns about the slowdown in the economy loomed in the back of board members' minds as they mulled over a target dollar amount for 2003.

Their decision to increase the contribution goal by 22 percent was spurred by the anticipated loss of state and federal dollars for local agencies.

Twenty-six nonprofit organizations that span age groups and abilities and social and economic backgrounds will benefit from United Way dollars in 2003.

Ten of those organizations combined anticipate an almost $500,000 shortfall in outside funding.

Routt County United Way board member Joe Fogliano said the board would begin its allocation process Feb. 11.

United Way funding will help to fill the gap left in the wake of state and federal cuts, he said.

Routt County United Way volunteers thanked everyone who donated or pledged to the 2003 campaign.

Donations came not only from people who call the Yampa Valley home all year long but also from people who have vacation homes in the county or maintain a special connection to the area long after they leave, Routt County United Way Director Millie Beall said.

"There are many people who have a special love for our valley and its people," she said.

Routt County United Way also awards up to $1,000 to programs within the county that depend on volunteers.

One-time donations are available for needs that pop up during the year. Almost $14,000 funded special-need requests in 2002.

Although the 2003 campaign contribution goal has been reached, the need is ever present, Beall said.

"There are always needs for additional funds and opportunities to grant dollars to agencies for special needs and programs," she said. "It's never too late to donate."

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