De De Chavez said she has received some pretty amazing Christmas gifts throughout her life, but winning United Way of Weld County’s annual $20,000 car voucher giveaway on Thursday (Dec. 19) is right at the top.

When Chavez’s name was called by last year’s winner Marla DeJohn at DoubleTree by Hilton Greeley at Lincoln Park, she sort of froze in time. After realizing she was the winner, Chavez’s excitement took over the stage.

“I’m kind of in shock … truthfully,” admitted Chavez, who moved to Greeley from the Imperial Valley in Southern California in October 2017. Just two hours earlier, Chavez had picked up her daughter, Katrina, from the airport. Little did she know that she’d be celebrating hours later with her daughter.

“I did not think she was going to win at all,” Katrina said. “It was so wonderful.”

Anyone donating $156 or more to United Way of Weld County was eligible for the drawing with 125 names being drawn over the past several weeks. Chavez, 52, and nine other donors advanced as finalists for the drawing. Greeley car dealerships – Ehrlich Toyota, Ghent Chevrolet Cadillac, Honda of Greeley, John Elway Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram and Weld County Garage Buick GMC – generously donate the cost of the car voucher every year, and the winner gets to use the $20,000 toward a vehicle at one of the dealerships, or the voucher can be used for more than one car at different dealerships.

“This incentive is thanks to the generosity and commitment of our five car dealerships and we cannot thank them enough,” said Jeannine Truswell, president and CEO of United Way of Weld County. “The fact that they come together to make this incentive possible is unique and an example of how we collaborate and work together in Weld County. This level of coordination doesn’t always happen in other communities. These car dealership are to be commended for their leadership and commitment.”

Bob Ghent, owner of Ghent Chevrolet Cadillac, enjoys supporting United Way and the community.

“It’s a great event and we’re happy to be here,” Ghent said. “We love to support this event and it’s good for the community.”

Truswell said that while there is only one winner for this $20,000 car voucher, every one of UWWC’s contributors are winners.

“Their investment in the lives of our Weld County neighbors, friends, colleagues and even family members through United Way of Weld County is maximized as everything we do centers around multiple programs and agencies working together, which helps us achieve positive results and an even greater impact on children, youth, families and adults,” Truswell said. “Improving lives strengthens our community.”

James Hovey, general manager at John Elway Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram, said the dealership is excited to be a part of United Way.

“The last few years the partnership with United Way is growing,” Hovey said.

Like Chavez, many of the finalists are long-time supporters and donors of United Way, and they donate to impact the lives of others in the community helping United Way of Weld County assist people in Early Childhood Development, Youth Success, Household Stability, Older Adults/Health Aging and Access to Services.

Chavez just accepted a new job as a senior tax accountant at ACM LLP in Greeley, and was involved at the United Way in Southern California.

“In the community that I lived in at Imperial Valley, I supported United Way and I actually sit on a board of a United Way organization in California, a center for domestic violence prevention,” Chavez said. “When I got here to Greeley, United Way was a pretty natural transition because they do great work from the community I came from. But I’m incredibly impressed by United Way of Weld County and how much more I’ve ever seen done by another United Way organization. Even in California, I haven’t seen this level of participation and commitment to the community. It’s really amazing.”

Chavez said she was a navigator at Weld Project Connect, facilitated by United Way of Weld County, in October.

“I loved that. It was so amazing to be able to help people,” said Chavez, who also helped to distribute backpacks for Greeley-Evans School District 6. “I hope to become more involved in the community. It didn’t take very long before Greeley felt like home.”