Are you excited about life? The challenges that confront us at times can be quite daunting. Thankfully, many of us have great support systems where we can find a helping hand when needed. Others are not as fortunate.

Nonprofit organizations strive to be a safety net for those needing assistance in one way or another. Laramie County is blessed to have an extensive network of nonprofits that seek to serve others and build a stronger community. United Way of Laramie County is a key component in that network.

United Way of Laramie County provides funding and support to more than twenty organizations and programs throughout the county. There is a methodical process in place to evaluate funding requests with an eye toward the greatest collective impact. How will the health, education, and financial stability of our neighbors be enhanced because of the work of a particular organization?

Once an organization has been granted funding through United Way, there are measures in place to evaluate the outcomes of the organization. Is the funding generating the intended results? This accountability factor is important in maintaining credibility.

Likewise, as the Executive Director of United Way of Laramie County, I need to be held accountable for our processes and procedures here as well. Are we being good stewards of what has been entrusted to our care? It is with that accountability in mind that I want to share this update as I complete my 8th week on the job.

There were employee vacancies when I arrived. If you have ever read the book by Jim Collins, Good to Great, you know how important it is to hire the right people and get them placed in the right seat on the bus. I am starting to accomplish that task. We welcome Kris Whitfield as the Director of Development and Marketing.

It has been my intent to learn as much about our Program Partners as possible. I have visited Boys & Girls Club of Cheyenne, Habitat for Humanity, Safe Harbor, Healthworks, Meals on Wheels, Recover Wyoming, CASA of Laramie County, NEEDS Inc. I celebrated the 35th anniversary (virtually) of Climb Wyoming, and I joined in a tree planting ceremony at COMEA in honor of our retired executive director, Connie Sloan-Cathcart.

I have also been meeting with Corporate Sponsors and other major supporters of United Way as we get plans in place for the upcoming campaign.

We are revamping our campaign materials for this year. Although we are a little behind schedule because of the transition in leadership, we are on pace to have a tremendously successful annual campaign. The kick-off will be on August 12 at The Cheyenne Botanic Gardens. Many thanks to Dr. Danielle and Jess Ryan for being the campaign chairs. They have been devoting a lot of time and energy to make this campaign successful.

We had a fantastic time with the chalk-art festival on the weekend the paint slingers and tattoo artists were in town. I am grateful to all who participated.

WyoGives was a marvelous way for nonprofits to get exposure across the state. We are appreciative to all who donated to United Way during that 24 hour timespan.

We have a raffle underway that is showing signs of tremendous support. Check out our Facebook page to find the details on where you can buy tickets (or call the office). We look forward to more involvement with communities in Eastern Laramie County. We thank the Burns Lions Club for allowing us to join in their 9/11 event with this raffle. We thank AA Livestock for their generous donation of two hogs. Two winners will each receive half of a processed hog. The person who sells the winning tickets will also win a half of a hog.

With the help of some of our board members, I am starting to research the possibility of setting up an endowment or a foundation to ensure the long-term financial viability of United Way. This will enable people to leave a legacy gift that will benefit residents of Laramie County for generations to come.

My staff and I will be out and about during Cheyenne Frontier Days promoting United Way of Laramie County. (Look for me in the parade on Thursday.) I hope you enjoy these days. Be safe!

I want to thank the staff for the great work they are doing. Also, thanks to all the board members for the many ways you serve. Amazing things are on the horizon for United Way of Laramie County!

Vernon Dobelmann                                                                                                                                                     Executive Director