Personal Financial Emergency

With many people in our communities struggling to make ends meet, you have probably seen various new calls to donate from mutual aid groups, GoFundMe pleas, and new entrepreneurial nonprofit startups. United Way of Southwest Colorado and our partners have participated in providing support to those facing financial crisis for decades and we have systems with accountability that work to help people in the most advantageous ways.

There are three major coalitions across our region to help those who are struggling to pay rent, mortgage, vehicle expenses, and more. The groups include the Pagosa Outreach Connection (POC, in Pagosa Springs), Community Emergency Assistance Coalition (CEAC, for La Plata and San Juan Counties), and Montelores Emergency Assistance Coalition (MEAC, for Montezuma and Dolores Counties). These coalitions have several features in common that make them highly effective for financial assistance. First, each group is comprised of several nonprofits that have come together to pool funds so they can go farther and pay larger bills when needed. Second, by working together, they prevent duplication of payments that can happen when aid organizations are not communicating with each other. Third, each coalition sends payments to a vendor or vendors to cover bills (e.g. check to a landlord) instead of a direct payment to an individual. This helps to cut down on fraud and helps to ensure that the funds are used properly. Fourth, the coalition members are experts in the human services field and can often provide referrals to assist applicants far beyond the one-time financial assistance provided by the group (e.g. how to sign up for food or childcare benefits). Fifth, some of the coalitions require budget counseling (free) for each applicant to help troubleshoot personal budget challenges for a more stable financial future. Sixth, anyone is invited to apply for the assistance and the coalitions can often help those who are not eligible for other support. Seventh, the process is speedy, with applications accepted and funds dispensed each week. Eighth, these programs are subject to annual audits by independent Certified Public Accountants to help ensure accountability.

I could go on and on with more benefits and data about the thousands of people whose financial situations have been stabilized. The systems work, work well, and tend to help people far beyond the simple effect of paying a bill. Most other groups calling for donations to provide aid only have one or two of the eight key features listed above.  If you want to give to these coalitions or refer someone to them for assistance, here is some additional information:

  • Pagosa Outreach Connection
  • Administrative Agent = Community United Methodist Church (call to apply 970-264-5508)
  • Fiscal Agent = United Way of Southwest Colorado (CLICK HERE TO GIVE)
  • Community Emergency Assistance Coalition
  • Administrative Agent = Housing Solutions for the Southwest (call to apply 970-259-1086)
  • Fiscal Agent = United Way of Southwest Colorado (CLICK HERE TO GIVE)
  • Montelores Emergency Assistance Coalition
  • Administrative and Fiscal Agent = The Pinon Project (call to apply or give 970-564-3817)

We are working to inform donors of the benefits of these well-established coalitions – thank you for reading. We want to help people who are experiencing a personal financial crisis to think clearly and make good decisions. The extra support that comes with these programs helps to build that future stability. Our communities are served well when we work UNITED.

Lynn Urban, President & CEO

970-903-3815 cell