United Way 2015
Loby Lucy volunteers for the annual United Way drive at UNM.
Credit: Aaron Hilf

Nonprofit organizations, such as the United Way, are indispensable to a better quality of life, not only because of the valuable programs they provide local citizens, but also because of the positive economic impact they create within the local community.

The annual United Way drive that is currently underway at the University of New Mexico supports many nonprofit organizations in our community including the university itself.

When parents need a brief respite from the continual stress of beeping monitors and busy intensive care units, the Ronald McDonald Family Room in UNM Children’s Hospital, offers a place to relax that is just steps away from their child’s bedside.

Ronald McDonald House Charities of New Mexico is one of the local nonprofits that benefits from UNM’s commitment to the community. They provide temporary, affordable lodging and services to families who have a child in the hospital. Executive director Kristin Rortvedt said that UNM does a lot for them.

“We couldn’t do this work without a supportive community, without the support of people, including UNM employees and the United Way,” Rortvedt said.

According to Rortvedt, every year numerous UNM employees donate to her organization through the United Way and its Community Fund, helping offset the cost to families using their services. “Last year, 85 percent of families didn’t have to pay a cent to Ronald McDonald House, “something made possible through donations from UNM and beyond,” she said.

“Giving back to my community helps give me a sense of the community," – Magdalena Vigil-Tullar

Another local nonprofit, the Children’s Grief Center of New Mexico, also benefits from the university’s annual campaign. As the only organization in New Mexico that provides services to children and young adults after they’ve experienced a loss, the Children’s Grief Center doesn’t receive any state or federal funding, and doesn’t charge families for services, so it depends greatly on donations from the community to keep going.

“United Way and UNM are huge supporters of our work and have been for nearly 15 years,” said Jade Bock, the center’s executive director. “The United Way’s Community Fund regularly provides the center with a grant that allows us to pay for program staff.”

Donations from the UNM fundraising campaign also assist departments and programs at UNM such as the Physiology Lab in Johnson Gym. “These contributions are especially important to fund student technicians who help perform physiological testing in the labs, as there are minimal assistantships available for this purpose,” said Christine Mermier, lab director and assistant professor in Health, Exercise & Sports Sciences. “At this time, only a single provost assistantship helps with lab funding, but this does not extend into the summer. We are open all year for testing, so these funds are invaluable to help staff the lab during times outside of fall and spring semesters. On occasion, the monies are also used to help defray costs of supplies and equipment needed for doctoral or Master's dissertation/theses.”

Tim Graham, director of the Institute for Medieval Studies and history professor said, “Contributions from the United Way help to support the Institute's public programs, principally the nationally respected and popular Spring Lecture Series.” 

Magdalena Vigil-Tullar, director of UNM Employee Relations, giving to the United Way for over 15 years.

UNM has many loyal contributors to the United Way. Magdalena Vigil-Tullar, director of UNM Employee Relations, has been giving to the United Way for over 15 years. “I have always been thankful of the opportunities I have had in life,” she said. “Giving back to my community helps give me a sense of the community. I recently spent some time at Joy Junction. The gratitude and graciousness of those I served warmed my heart. I would highly encourage everyone to give a little something regardless of how small. A small amount will go a long way in helping others in need.”

The UNM United Way Campaign runs through Nov. 19. Donating is simple for the UNM community. You’re able make a one-time pledge online by visiting your ‘myUNM’ page. You can also set up a recurring payroll deduction for any amount you choose. Just $1 per pay period can make a big difference when combined with gifts given around campus. Donations can also be made by using the paper Pledge form. Keep in mind, every contribution is tax deductible and 100 percent of your gift will go directly to a local charitable organization of your choosing or one identified by United Way volunteers.