United Way Campaign Kickoff

Kelly Wolfe speaks during Thursday’s United Way Campaign Kickoff at the Hilton Garden Inn.

SHANNON BRODERICK/Boomerang photographer

United Way Executive Director Paul Heimer said the organization is aiming to raise $480,000 for its 2017 campaign to help organizations such as Laramie Head Start, Peak Wellness Center and Laramie Reproductive Health. Typically, organizations are mostly funded through state and local governments, and losing funds could be devastating for their clients.

“Our main mission is to raise as much money as we can for human-service nonprofits that serve the Laramie community,” Heimer said. “Many of (the agencies) at least partially rely upon government funding for the vast majority of their budget … these agencies are really getting hurt.”

He said United Way has helped increase the quality of services it provides organizations such as the Eppson Center for Seniors, the Developmental Preschool and Day Care Center, the Laramie Soup Kitchen and Albany County SAFE Project by providing them with funds for new equipment or renovations.

“Eppson Center bought weights so seniors could workout better, the Developmental Preschool was planning on buying a van for their after school programs — we gave them enough money to buy two,” Heimer said. “The (Laramie) Soup Kitchen remodeled their main dining room, and then we gave enough money to the SAFE Project so they could remodel their shelter so that two of their units were pet friendly.”

At the campaign kickoff Thursday, Laramie Head Start teacher’s assistant Savannah Robinson shared her experiences with Laramie Head Start and how it affected her life.

“When I was younger life wasn’t too easy,” Robinson said. “Head Start has definitely shown me a lot, its continuing to show me a lot, it’s going to help me go to school and get my degree in teaching (at the University of Wyoming).”

She said being part of Head Start provided her with the support and help for Robinson to pursue continuing her education at the University of Wyoming, studying education.

Campaign donations can go to specific organizations or to United Way where the donations are pooled together to be allocated at a later date.

Organizations such as Wyoming Home Ownership Program, Albany County Branch of the American Red Cross and The Laramie Youth Crisis Center then apply for funds from the pool, and the applications are reviewed by United Way volunteers.

“They can donate directly to us it,” Heimer said.

“About 80 percent of the money we get donated goes into that pool.

The rest is what we call designated, that means the donor wants their donation to go to one, or multiple, specific charity.”

He said the public campaign will last two months, but the campaign will not officially close until the end of January. Go to www.unitedwayalbanycounty.org for more information.

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