Moffat County United Way program wins state award for third year running | CraigDailyPress.com

Moffat County United Way program wins state award for third year running

United Way Community Impact Coordinator Kristen Vigil with one of the “Right on the Money Awards” for her work in providing “Getting Ahead in a Just Getting By World” — part of the Bridges Out of Poverty Program.

CRAIG — A program designed to help people overcome poverty is "Right on the Money" according to Consumers United Association, which annually honors organizations that provide "excellent" financial education programs to Coloradans.

For the third consecutive year, United Way Community Impact Coordinator Kristen Vigil accepted one of the "Right on the Money Awards" for her work in providing "Getting Ahead in a Just Getting By World,” part of the Bridges Out of Poverty Program.

Twice per year, between 14 and 16 individuals living in poverty and referred by human service agencies are chosen to participate in the free, nine-week course and follow up to "analyze the themes of their lives, assess their own resources, make concrete plans for economic stability, and become skillful at using the hidden rules of class to build resources and a future story for themselves," according to the Moffat County United Way website.

Almost all participants show growth based on an assessment of their self-sufficiency, and within two years, about a third of graduates become self-sufficient, Vigil estimated.

"Poverty is really about all of your resources. If you don't build all of your resources, you can have money and still be lacking," Vigil said.

She explained that becoming self-sufficient "means huge directions in their lives; no more government or agency assistance. That's huge."

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The other part of the program provides community members not living in poverty with information and skills needed to inspire innovative solutions.

"It's about shifting from an us-versus-them mentality," Vigil said.

Vigil believes that eliminating such a mentality helps "create more of a cohesive community … to a life we all enjoy living."

She also believes the model — Bridges Out of Poverty — United Way uses has gained support "because it is holistic."

To win the award, organizations across Colorado must first be nominated, then  submit an application. However, Vigil said that Consumers United Association has invited Moffat County United Way to apply.

"They are updated every year about what we are doing and how we interact with graduates after. The program supports people for two years," she said.

She believes the program's commitment to supporting students across multiple years is another reason it has garnered support.

In prior years the award came with a $2,600 prize; this year, that amount was increased to $3,500, which, according to Vigil, will be used to implement the Getting Ahead program.

"Specifically, we use it for dinner and child care for participants and the graduate meeting after they complete the nine-week class," she said.

During an October award ceremony in Denver, Moffat County United Way Director Annette Norton noted the broad range of recipients from across the entire state of Colorado.

"I think this award is a testament to the persistence and work that Kristen does and the collaboration she has with other community agencies that refer and partner to support the program," she said.

This year, the program received support from a $15,000 Operation Roundup grant from Yampa Valley Electric Association, a $2,000 grant from the Yampa Valley Community Foundation Grant, and a $5,000 grant from the Moffat County Interagency Oversight Group, formed from state House Bill 1451. Daniels Fund, Anschutz Family Foundation, the Moffat County Human Resource Council, the Moffat County Individual Services Support Team, Union Pacific Railroad, and Kum & Go have also provided additional support.

"I think it's important the support that we get in this community, because a we wouldn't be able to do this work with out them," Vigil said.

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.