Community brings Routt United Way to goal

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For weeks, people have been asking Millie Beall, executive director for Routt County United Way, one question: "How are we doing?"

Now, Beall can answer.

More than 1,000 Routt County residents have contributed to Routt County United Way since mid-September, bringing donations to just above the organization's $400,000 goal. United Way, which raises funds for 28 county health and human service organizations, has spent months working toward its fund-raising goal.

That 1,000 of the county's about 20,000 residents have contributed says a lot about the community, Beall said.

Also encouraging is the fact that a "lofty goal" was reached during what were tough economic times for many residents, she said.

"We're just so lucky to live in this little corner of the world," Beall said. "We fend for each other. I'm proud of us as a community."

The $400,000 goal that the organization met marks about a 45 percent increase from the $275,000 goal it set four years ago, when Beall became executive director.

The increased funds help health and human service organizations deal with constant cuts in state and federal funding, Beall said.

As needs have increased, the organization's fund-raising goal has increased, and Routt County residents have responded positively, she said.

"The state has been making such drastic cuts in funding health and human services that they've put the onus on local communities," Beall said. "Our community is not willing to give up our healthy community. So our community has stepped up to say we are going to continue to provide a healthy community for our residents."

Routt County United Way provides funds to cover 10 percent of some organizations' budgets, Beall said. Many organizations depend on United Way's help to keep up with the cuts, she said.

The organization expects to allocate $345,000 to organizations this year, Beall said. The remaining funds are spent on programs such as the Community Thanksgiving Dinner and other organizational costs, she said.

Although the community has come together to reach the $400,000 goal, Beall encourages anyone who has yet to contribute to donate what they can.

"We are not able to meet all the needs. It is not possible," she said. "But every dollar more that we collect will definitely flow through to the agencies that need the help."

Donations can be mailed to Routt County United Way, P.O. Box 774005, Steamboat Springs, CO 80477.

-- To reach Susan Bacon, call 871-4203

or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com

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