Coalition plans out fund-raising strategy

Group clears way to receive United Way money

The Northwest Colorado Dental Coalition conducted a marathon workshop Saturday to complete work so the coalition could recover after it was left destitute by alleged embezzlement.

One of the main issues discussed were financial and organizational requirements mandated by local United Way offices in order for the coalition to be eligible for funding.

Board members also reviewed options for a fund-raiser.

The coalition acts as a clearinghouse for dental services to children and families who cannot afford those services or insurance and representatives have said it was on the verge of collapse.

At a five-hour workshop, the coalition board and executive director finalized restructuring steps and board and employee responsibilities for the non-profit organization.

The coalition will now have the same accounting procedures the Moffat County United Way uses, said coalition

executive director Debi Garoutte.

"They showed us what they have for checks and balances they also use QuikPro (accounting software)," Garoutte said. "In the discussion about the roles and responsibilities for the board, we assigned the treasurer to review the (monthly financial) statements."

The coalition's treasurer is Neal Fenton, a dentist in Craig. The coalition has opened a new bank account at the Bank of Colorado effective today and the accounting software QuikPro has been installed in the coalition's computers, Garoutte said.

The coalition will provide the Moffat County and Routt County United Way offices with detailed explanations of the changes by May 1.

The two United Way offices are withholding a combined $24,000 from the coalition pending the changes and

the coalition's ability to recover.

"The workshop was about the importance of unity for the dental coalition," she said. "We defined what our mission is, what we are about, what we need and what we're doing to move forward. We're now all on the same page and moving forward. The board is very committed to keeping the coalition together."

According to Garoutte, the coalition has met all the requirements the United Way had prescribed for the coalition after the former coalition executive director, Robin McKenzie, 36, was arrested in March on charges of theft.

McKenzie is accused of embezzling more than $30,000 from the dental coalition during the 20 months that she served as its executive director.

The workshop was organized to complete the work needed to restructure the coalition and lay the groundwork for a fund-raiser to collect the $15,000 that is necessary to save the organization.

"I think the meeting went very well," said Corrie Scott, executive director of the Moffat County United Way, who facilitated the weekend workshop.

According to Garoutte, the coalition will be meeting with representatives from KRAI radio station, the K27 TV station and the Craig Daily Press this week to discuss a media drive to help raise funds for the dental coalition.

The organization has already received $1,500 to help pay some outstanding bills allowing the coalition to reconnect its phone and deal with other small debts. That fund-raiser will hopefully begin at the end of this week, Garoutte said.

The dental coalition owes $9,003 to Kids in Need of Dentistry that McKenzie allegedly attempted to pay with Partners' funds, $4,800 in federal taxes, $240 in state taxes and several outstanding bills to local companies.

According to Garoutte, the coalition board is also looking for new members ones that would make the board more diverse and more representative of the area it serves: Moffat, Routt and Rio Blanco counties.

"We would like to have a minimum of 12 board members and right now we have eight," she said.

"We are seeking community members who have an interest in us. We'd like to be set up the way the United Way board

is, with its diversity of membership that gives it a good balance."

Anyone interested in becoming a Northwest Colorado Dental Coalition board member may contact Garoutte at the coalition office at 827-1178.

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