It would not be possible to touch so many lives in our community with out the support of many individuals and organizations. Thank you all who have been involved with United Way in 2014; you are a reason our community is a fantastic place to live.
On Thursday, March 5th, United Way of Northern New Mexico hosted Recognition Night, an annual festivity that helps us say thank you to many United Way supporters. This year’s festivities took place at the newly created UnQuarked Wine Room. The room was filled to capacity with donors, community partners, and business organizations.
Last year, United Way began giving out three awards for community members and organizations who are doing a stellar job at providing for the common good. The Service Above and Beyond Award is given to an individual who works in a nonprofit and has shown a tenacity and passion, that goes beyond their job description, to make our community better. The Volunteer of the Year Award goes to an individual who may seem like they are working for an organization but indeed are volunteering their time, talents, and passion for a mission. The Philanthropist of the Year goes to an individual or business who has selflessly gave time and money to make the world of difference in our community.
In 2014, Ellen Ben-Naim, Juvenile Justice Advisory Board Co-Coordinator, partnered with United Way of Northern New Mexico to bring a peer to peer mentoring program to Los Alamos High School. In that effort we saw Ellen’s commitment to the youth in our community. Throughout the year we saw Ellen at numerous meetings and events advocating and working to make our community even better for our youth. Her passion and commitment gave us the opportunity to show her thanks for her “Service Above and Beyond.”
In 2014, and, well many years prior, Morrie Pongratz has given his everything to the community. From Key Club Sponsor to United Way Youth Team Coordinator and his distinguished distinction as “The Voice of the Toppers,” Morrie is more than earned Volunteer of the Year for 2014. Morrie’s selflessness is truly inspiring and our community is fortunate beyond words to have a treasure like Morrie in it.
“We feel we have lived a very gifted life and need to ‘pay it forward’. Our children are all on their own, with their own families, and we now have the time and energy to devote to those causes that we feel help our neighbors and community.” This is the type of personalities Ann Hayes and Pat Soran have. We have had the joy to work with Ann and Pat in 2014 as they volunteered their time to advocate for United Way as the Campaign Chairs. Pat co-founded the Los Alamos Lunch Buddies Board Program (now part of Big Brothers/Big Sisters). From 1997 to 2005 he coordinated efforts to rebuild all of Los Alamos Tot Lots. Pat served on the Board of Directors and Chair of Crisis Center of Northern New Mexico for 12 years. He is a 20 year member of Kiwanis Club of Los Alamos. Ann is the President of local Foundation which served children of northern New Mexico and is a member of Kiwanis Club of Los Alamos. Ann Hayes and Pat Soran have been selflessly giving back to the region for many years and are the 2014 Philanthropist of the Year.