I have been both proud and fortunate to be a lifelong Puebloan. The community has been good to me, and in turn, I am blessed to be able to support the community in many different ways.

 In the fall, I agreed to take on the challenge of serving as the campaign chairman for United Way of Pueblo County. United Way of Pueblo County has served the community of Pueblo for 95 years and, thanks to its fundraising efforts, more than 25 different nonprofit organizations receive funding to provide critically needed services to help individuals and families in need. Money raised here stays here and 90 cents of every dollar you give goes directly to programs and services for our citizens.

 While United Way raises funds year-round, we are wrapping up our fall campaign efforts. At this point in time, we are an estimated $90,000 short of where we need to be. Campaigns that have been historically very strong, with increases each year, are coming in lower. This is nothing new. Each year, United Way will lose anywhere from $60,000 to $170,000, due to various reasons.

 The challenge is trying to make up those losses and add a little to the top. It is for these reasons that we must unite together and fight for our community. When donations are low, it is a sure sign that the demand for services will be at an all-time high.

What does a potential reduction of $90,000 in United Way campaign dollars mean to our community?

This type of reduction would affect us all. Thousands of children, individuals, seniors and families may not be able to access:

• Life-changing after-school/summer/Friday programming or one-on-one mentoring

• Services allowing seniors to stay independent such as sliding fee scale home and yard maintenance

• Mental health and crisis counseling, including services to prevent and address child abuse

• Disaster assistance (natural and home fire) and services to the Armed Forces

• Free tax refund assistance, leveraging hundreds of thousands of dollars into our economy and community

• Housing and homelessness services — rent/mortgage and utility assistance, emergency shelter, meals, food sacks, emergency medical prescriptions, transportation and holiday gifts for children

The long-time philosophy of United Way has been that when you reach out to one, you influence all. If you haven’t yet given a gift to United Way, I challenge you to give a gift today. If you own a business, United Way offers an easy, effective way to allow your employees to get involved in the community and learn of its needs. And it gives them an opportunity to choose to give.

Just $1 a week through payroll deduction has the power to feed families, provide a positive adult role model for a struggling middle school student or can provide an emergency medical prescription, to name just few. One single gift helps so many different organizations, issues and needs, and impacts families, children, seniors and everyone in between.

The beauty of United Way remains is that no matter the size of the gift, when united with others, it really does make a difference right here in our community. Please fight with us to transform lives, one person at a time, by mailing your gift or pledge to the United Way of Pueblo County (PO Box 11566, Pueblo, CO 81001), or visiting the website at pueblounitedway.org/give.

You can also give by texting HOPE to 719-249-1005. As an added bonus, all new and increased gifts to the campaign will be matched dollar-for-dollar up to $102,500, thanks to the generosity of Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant partners Bechtel and AECOM; David and Lucile Packard Foundation; Temple Hoyne Buell Foundation; El Pomar Foundation; the Southern Colorado Community Foundation; US Bank; Ent Credit Union; Little Caesars Pizza; Pepsi; and The Pueblo Chieftain.

I have been blessed to lead this campaign because I’ve seen first-hand how these dollars impact our community. Each donation will make a difference. Any amount will make a difference. Together we fight. Together we win.

Please give your gift today.

Pueblo Police Chief Troy Davenport is United Way's local campaign chairman.

Organizations receiving funding from United Way in 2019-2020 include: Agape Fellowship Food Pantry, American Red Cross Southeastern Colorado, Boys and Girls Club of Pueblo County, Catholic Charities, East Side Child Care Center, Pueblo Child Advocacy Center, Pueblo Cooperative Care, Salvation Army, Senior Resources Development Agency, Southside Children’s Center, Care and Share Food Bank, CASA of Pueblo, Center for Disabilities, Center for Restorative Programs, Ecumenical Church of Pueblo West Food Pantry, EPIC (Executives Partnering to Invest in Children), Friendly Harbor Drop In Center, Pueblo Pro Bono Mental Health, Posada, Pueblo City Schools, Pueblo City County Library District, Pueblo Community Soup Kitchen, Pueblo Poverty Foundation, Pueblo Rescue Mission, Pueblo School District 70, and Sangre de Cristo Hospice and Palliative Care.