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United Way kicks off annual fundraising campaign

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Christopher Palmer, United Way Chaves County board president, leads the Pledge of Allegiance at the United Way campaign kick-off luncheon on Tuesday as the New Mexico Military Institute’s color guard presents the flags. (Alison Penn Photo)

Roswell City Manager Joe Neeb and his wife Beth Neeb kicked off the United Way’s 2018 fundraising campaign with a speech and expressed gratitude to many community members on Tuesday afternoon.

Sherry Mumford, executive director of United Way Chaves County, said the campaign kick-off luncheon had 270 people in attendance and had “a great turn out” despite having to change the venue — from the Roswell Convention and Civic Center to the Boys & Girls Club — at the last minute. Mumford added that the community “really showed their support for the Neebs and to United Way.”

“We were just so pleased that Joe and Beth Neeb were willing to chair this year’s campaign with this,” Mumford said. “They’ve stated this is their home. They’ve made Roswell their home and they were so happy to step up to the plate and help us raise money for the community to help our neighbors in need.”

The New Mexico Military Institute’s color guard presented at the beginning of the luncheon with Lt. Joe West from the Salvation Army giving the invocation. Christopher Palmer, United Way Chaves County board president, referenced the 17th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York in remembrance of those who lost their lives.

Palmer also emceed the opening ceremony which included expressions of gratitude to several campaign compadres, community agencies, and volunteers present or partnering with United Way. He said the partnering community agencies provided services to more than 16,000 individuals last year with funding from United Way.

“As the talk about the goals to raise funds, let’s remember that United Way’s underlying goal always has been and will be meeting the needs of our community,” Palmer said. “Every campaign we hear about how much money we want to raise, but we don’t want to lose sight of the fact that we’re doing this to help our neighbors and make our community stronger.”

Palmer introduced the Neebs, who moved Roswell in April 2017, and said they are active in church and serving the community. The Neebs have been married for 35 years and have four children and three grandsons. Palmer also said the Neebs have expressed being surprised by the “giving nature of community.”

After the introduction from Palmer, Joe Neeb asked his wife to join him at the lectern and said they were honored to help and admire the work of those who have been in this role in the past. Ron and Licia Hillman were the previous chairs and $443,141 was raised last year.

Joe Neeb said the community’s “support means the world to us,” and said that he and Beth Neeb carefully considered before accepting to chair the campaign. He said they will be “diligent in efforts to make Chaves County a healthy community for all.”

“We both care deeply about this community and we want to do our part to keep it strong,” Joe Neeb said. “Our lives are here. This is our home. Chaves County is important to us. We both know this is a great opportunity to make a difference. We appreicate the support of every person in this room. Chaves County has many great people and we appreciate the contributions and the time of everyone here today. Collectively, we are United Way of Chaves County.

“With a group volunteers of this caliber, we know that the 2018 is going to be a success. This years campaign goal is $500,000. We’re hoping that this number is put in the dust as we meet our campaign goal. We cannot raise that much money alone, but with the help of those dedicated volunteers and all of you. Not only can we reach our goal, we can exceed it.”

At this time, Neeb said $50,834, more than 10 percent of the goal, has already been acquired.

“With the help of each and every one of you here today, we will reach our goal of $500,000 and we will make a difference in our community,” Neeb said.

City/RISD reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.