Moffat County Youth United Way distributes more than $10K to local groups |

Moffat County Youth United Way distributes more than $10K to local groups

Corrie Ponikvar, far right, stands with Moffat County Youth United Way members. The group distributed $10,140 to local groups at a Tuesday afternoon reception at The Center of Craig. The group of teenage volunteers raised money over the course of the school year with contributions from United Way, the El Pomar Foundation and Human Resources Council.

Handshakes, hugs and some sizable funds.

These were among the things exchanged Tuesday afternoon at The Center of Craig when Moffat County Youth United Way members distributed money they raised throughout the year to seven local service groups.

During the reception, the teenage volunteers gave out $10,140 to representatives from groups such as Colorado Northwestern Community College, Bear River Young Life, the Moffat County Early Childhood Coalition and Reaching Everyone Preventing Suicide.

Funding for the allocations began with the El Pomar Youth in Community Service program, which offered Youth United Way $2,500 on the condition that youth members raise at least $500 on their own to match the amount.

After bringing in more than $600 through a fundraiser raffle, the organization added contributions from Moffat County United Way and the Human Resources Council to its total.

Youth United Way member Slade Gurr said the group selected the various recipients through an application process.

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"It's been a blast this year going into the community and seeing where we could make an impact," he said.

Gurr, a Moffat County High School senior and a co-vice president of student volunteer organization Key Club, said he was glad to have a say in providing money to worthy causes.

"One that I think is really exciting that we were able to fund more than they expected is the SAFE Program, Stopping Abuse For Ever," he said. "They focus a lot on teen dating violence, which is something I don't think a lot of people know we have a problem with. It's a growing issue in America."

The SAFE Program received $2,250, the highest amount given, while groups like the Moffat County Cancer Society and Explorer Program took home $2,000 and $1,148, respectively.

Youth United Way member Mandi Ellgen, an MCHS senior and Key Club co-president, said money distributed varied depending on how much each group requested through the application process.

"Some of them send us a budget for everything, and some of them just ask for a general amount," she said.

Corrie Ponikvar, United Way's executive director, oversaw Tuesday's ceremony.

Ponikvar started Youth United Way in 2001 as a way to let service-minded teens take the initiative to give back to the community.

"This has been an exceptional group," she said. "Most of them have been in it for three or four years, and I've gotten really attached to them."

Ponikvar said the funding for the year was less than previous years because the El Pomar Foundation has been phasing out funding for Youth United Way. Next year will be the last that the group will receive funds from the organization.

However, the foundation will continue to support local groups.

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"They really understand the kind of work that we do, and the way that their committee allocates money will still go back into the community," she said. "They've been wonderful with all the work that they do."

In the crowd at the reception were MCHS Principal Thom Schnellinger and Moffat County School District Superintendent Joe Petrone.

Petrone, also a United Way board member, said he was proud of the achievements of Youth United Way.

"I remember being here (at the ceremony) last year and being overwhelmed with the giving, caring support," he said. "Young people like our high school students are always up to the task of helping their community, and they never fail to get a result.

"They're a model for community involvement."

By the numbers:

At a Tuesday afternoon ceremony at The Center of Craig, members of Moffat County Youth United Way presented a total $10,140 to local groups. The following is a list of the amounts the organization awarded to each recipient:

Group Award

SAFE Program — $2,250

Moffat County Cancer Society — $2,000

REPS — $1,750

CNCC — $1,452

Explorer Program — $1,148

Bear River Young Life — $1,000

Early Childhood Coalition — $540