United Way celebrates community of supporters at awards reception | CraigDailyPress.com

United Way celebrates community of supporters at awards reception

Corrie Ponikvar showed emotion as she spoke about her departure from Moffat County United Way at the end of this month after 18 years of service. United Way supporters gathered Thursday for an awards reception to honor company supporters, as well as Ponikvar and local organizations.

— Supporters of Moffat County United Way gathered at Colorado Northwestern Community College Thursday evening for an awards and celebration reception to honor 20 of its major company supporters.

United Way supporters, staff and board members were also present to honor outgoing executive director Corrie Ponikvar, who has served the organization for 18 years. She teared up as she offered some of her final words as the organization's leader.

"This is the hardest thing, saying goodbye to all the hard-working people and organizations who make this community a better place to live," Ponikvar said.

Xcel Energy and its employees were honored for being the 2015 pacesetter, helping United Way to kick off its campaign by raising $57,802. Of that total, $34,000 will be allocated to Moffat County agencies, vice president of the United Way board Jennifer Riley said as she presented the award.

"United Way's fundraising success is driven by the payroll deduction program and matching gifts from employers," Ponikvar said.

Also honored were new United Way executive director, Amanda Arnold, and new community impact coordinator, Aspen Matthews. Ponikvar said she was reassured to be leaving the organization in such good hands.

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Several local agencies that receive support from United Way were also in attendance to share their gratitude.

Among them was Craig Thornhill, program director for Mind Springs Health in Craig, which receives financial support for its indigent care program from United Way. Thornhill estimated that over 1,000 people have been provided with mental health care services through the program since 2006.

"We provide direct-impact services and without the funding from United Way we would not be able to provide to those who can't pay," Thornhill said.

Special recognition was given to the Christmas for Kids program at the conclusion of the event, headed up by Amber Kawcak with help from her daughter, Afton Kawcak and mother, Julie Hanna. Kawcak is stepping down from the organization after playing Santa to countless Moffat County families in need for nine years. Betsy Overton with Connections 4 Kids has agreed to fill Kawcak's shoes.

Contact Lauren Blair at 970-875-1794 or lblair@CraigDailyPress.com.

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