United Way of Northern New Mexico

Thanks to Nonprofits

This further motivates us here at United Way to do what we do to make local nonprofits stronger and enabling them to tackle our most critical needs.  Continue reading

Finding Direction & Guidance When Home is in Chaos

When teens walk through the doors of the Española YMCA Teen Center, they are accepted for who they are. Mark was no different. A few months after losing his dad to a drug overdose, Mark arrived with his sister, a brother and their friend.  He was a tough young man.  At 13 years of age, he had already been jumped into a gang, and he thought he was the man- not only at home, but he tried to push his weight around the Teen Center, as well. Teen Center staff kindly but firmly let him know that it was unacceptable to push his weight around with anyone.  The Teen Center slowly gained his respect. He was searching for direction and guidance, and he had found it there. Mark’s mother was going through her own struggle with heroin, and trying to raise her three children after losing her husband. Many nights, staff members stayed late waiting for a responsible adult to come pick up the kids. They gave the kids food, and at times collected donations of clothes and other items for them. The older sister acted as “mom,” and at 14, she did the best she could. Y staff counseled and referred them for assistance. The kids were faithful members, and after a few months, Mark actually began participating in the classes.  Surprisingly, he really enjoyed the cooking and baking class. He said he was learning to cook so he could feed his brother and sister when his mom was passed out, or was not at home. He faced many struggles. At the age of 15, he became a teen dad, yet one of the best dads staff had ever seen. His daughter was born with a heart condition and had to undergo a number of surgeries. Mark came back to the Center with questions on how to get his GED, and for help in looking for work. The Teen Center connected him with resources.  Even though Mark took a lot longer than he wanted due to life situations, he graduated in May 2017, with his GED from Northern New Mexico College. Staff celebrated this occasion with Mark.

United Way of Northern New Mexico supports the YMCA’s Española Teen Center through the Community Action Fund.  “We have seen the benefits of having a safe place for teenagers to go after school, especially for the kids that have an unfortunate situation at home,” says Kristy Ortega, Executive Director of the United Way of Northern New Mexico.  “Ben and his staff have turned numerous lives around before it was too late, and have been a help to those who needed guidance. This is a critical need they are filling for teens in Rio Arriba.”

United Way of Northern New Mexico works with non-profits throughout the year to stay up to date with the needs of Los Alamos and Rio Arriba counties.  There are times non-profits are connected to help one another and help provide better services to the communities.  In March, United Way opens their Community Action Fund Grant process where non-profits have an opportunity to get resources for addressing the most critical in our community.

Click for more information about YMCA Espanola Teen Center

Click for more information about the Community Action Fund


Thank You Cornerstone Companies!


In any nonprofit, individuals should be getting compensated for making good things happen for communities.  United Way is no different.  Our Cornerstone Companies donate to cover the cost of doing business, working on the critical needs in our communities, and raising donations.  We could not accomplish as much as we do without the support of these businesses. We thank you for investing in United Way of Northern New Mexico.  If you see any of these businesses out in about or just want to stop in to tell them thank you for supporting the community here is how you can contact them.

Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Bank, Los Alamos Medical Center, Cray Inc., Centerra Los Alamos, Plateau Properties, New Mexico Bank & Trust, LA Daily Post, Tsay Corp, Re/Max First, Blue Cross Blue Shield of NM.

Visiting Funded Partners

Five UWNNM Board members visited Rio Arriba Adult Literacy Program as a part of their Community Action Fund Grant Site Visits. In attendance were David Trujillo, Joseph Sanchez, Manuel Valdez, Don Cobb and Liddie Martinez.
Present representing the organization were Program Director Beverly Post and board members, Catherine Avila and Susan Roybal.
They toured the space, which is donated by the City of Espanola in the public library. This space represents an increase in space from their previous location of about 200%. They discussed the existing referral network among area non-profits and their invitation from McCurdy to partner in their community services endeavor.
Currently the Adult Literacy program has 50 volunteers whom provided 1:1 tutoring for 66 students last year. The breakdown of services between programs is 66% ESL and 33% Adult Literacy.
“With a budget hovering around $50,000 a year, their biggest challenge is not being able to afford a full time paid staff person,” said UWNNM Board Member Liddie Martinez. “They are currently working with two part time staff people and keeping regular office hours, which is challenging and can impeded outreach opportunities.  Right now the NM Coalition for Literacy funds about 50% of their program and receive small grant from Dollar General. “
Additionally, small private donations were up last year at about $9K.
Their training has changed in the last 18 months from a 2 day training to 1.5 days to now 1 full day. It was thought that a more condensed training would help increase participation of new volunteers as many had issues with taking two days off work to train for a voluntary position. They expect to see volunteers increase this year.
The average student is paired with a tutor and receives 2 hours per week of tutoring for at least 6 months. They are working on establishing a vetting system to increase retention as a 6 month commitment is required to have positive outcomes.

United Way of Northern New Mexico Hosts Mental Health First Aid Training for Public Safety 

​As a part of the United Way of Northern New Mexico’s Behavioral Health(y) Community
Initiative, United Way of Northern New Mexico hosted a training, facilitated New Mexico State Police Sergeant​ Kiersten Harzewski for local law enforcement and public safety officials.  “United Way continues to look for ways to help our communities by providing services and resources pertaining to mental and behavioral health,” said Kristy Ortega, Executive Director of United Way of Northern New Mexico.  “Our hope is to do 1-2 of these training’s per year for those who serve in Los Alamos and Rio Arriba Counties,”; Ortega said.
Sergeant Harzewski has been in Law Enforcement for 23 years and is currently a member of the State Police Crisis Negotiation Team.  “I’m interested in helping officers understand how to hand people with Mental Health Concerns,” said Harzewski.
Mental Health First Aid for Public Safety is an eight-hour course specially designed for
police officers, first responders, corrections officers and other public safety professionals, helping them better understand mental illnesses and addictions and providing them with effective response options to deescalate incidents without
compromising safety. – nationalcouncil.org

BHI2 ​
“Mental Health First Aid is a necessary component for modern day law enforcement,”
said Cpl. Robert Stephens, who is the current School Resource Officer at Los Alamos Middle School.   Along those same lines, participant Detective Matt Lyon (Los Alamos Police Department) stated, “Mental Health First Aid is a must for law enforcement in today’s society.”
Also in attendance was Animal Control officer Debra Kramer.  “It helps us be more
understanding to what others are going through and why.”  She was particularly interested in this course and how it applies to folks who have pets in our community.
“This course will make it easier for departments to get their first responders trained in
Mental Health and Crisis Awareness, and how to effectively managed both,”said
Corporal James Keane, LAPD.

BHI3 For more information on this course and the United Way of Northern New Mexico Behavioral Health(y) Community Initiative, please contact Kristy Ortega at kristy@unitedwaynnm.org or visit us on the web at http://www.unitedwaynnm.org

United Way of Northern New Mexico Announces 2017 Funded Partners

  Over $1 million was requested by 47 nonprofit organizations serving Los Alamos and Rio Arriba residents.  United Way of Northern New Mexico’s (UWNNM) Community Action Fund Grant Cycle concluded with the funding of $628,420 to 29 local nonprofits.  United Way’s funding will reach residents that are to be born this year to those needing assistance in … Continue reading

Partnership With Laboratory Focusing on Community Impact

“We rely on United Way of Northern New Mexico for their expertise and knowledge of community organizations that are making a difference on the ground every day.” said Kathy Keith, LANL Community Programs Office. Continue reading

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Resources for mental health first aid

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