LAUGHLIN — The Laughlin Chamber of Commerce Volunteers in Partnership held its annual awards ceremony last week at the Aquarius Casino Resort’s Scorpio Room, where the organization distributed $10,000 to local entities. 

Who are the VIPs? They are a standing committee of the Laughlin Chamber of Commerce with their own guideline and officers. They are primarily utilized for the Laughlin Tourism Commission and Chamber but are loaned out to other community events and non-profits to assist in creating a better life for everyone.

The VIPs began in 2005 with eight people looking for something to do. They offered their time and efforts to the chamber and Laughlin Tourism Commission in any way that would be helpful. With the goal of helping both the growth of the community and the growth of tourism, the VIPs helped bull-riding championships and other rodeo events, Southern California Off Road Enthusiasts and Southern Nevada Off Road Enthusiasts off-road racing events and other events held in the township.

At that time, the extent of their help was selling beer for the promoters; they were allowed to keep the tips for a donation fund. Net proceeds collected by the VIPs are donated to local charities.

In 2006, Judy Royer reorganized the group, which had increased to about 12. The group has continued to grow since then, and so have the opportunities for the VIPs. With membership numbers continuing to grow, they now stand at 90 strong. In any given year, the VIPs are involved in a wide variety of events: ribbon cuttings for new and existing chamber members, the Connie Davis 5K Walk & Roll for Cancer, Run Laughlin, Bullhead City Boom Box Parade, Clark County Parks & Recreation Egg Hunt and Fall Festival, the former regatta, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Colorado River events, Chef’s Food Fest, Community Achievement Awards, selling water at Laughlin River Run, SNORE races, UTV Championships, Best In The Desert Championship Races, and many more events throughout the year. 

They enjoy helping nonprofit entities succeed with their events, and help to make the events of private entities succeed also, with the hope that others will want to come back to our community.

The VIPs are a unique array of people. Members are residents from Laughlin, Bullhead City, Fort Mohave, and other surrounding areas. There are full-time residents and “snowbirds” from all over the country. VIPs are not “locked in” to a particular task, or certain hours each day; every event is different in requests. For the most part, the VIPs have all come here from other places and were looking for something to do. They enjoy meeting new people, learning more about the area and doing what they can to help. As VIPs, they are able to have an enhanced understanding of how the community works and how they can work together for a common goal.

While being involved in all of these events, there arose opportunities for the VIPs to raise funds that would enable them to help local charities with their causes. To date, they have donated more than $45,000 to numerous charities schools and youth groups in the Colorado River region. 

From “eating dirt” at the off-road races, to helping the children at the egg hunt, to donning their formal attire for the Community Achievement Awards, the VIPs are happy to do whatever is needed of them.

“The Volunteers In Partnership are extremely pleased to help so many organizations in the Colorado River Region,” said Joyce Moreno, VIP liaison for the Laughlin Chamber of Commerce. “It is a wonderful feeling to know that we are able to give back to the area we love and now call home.”

A great bunch of volunteers doing good all over the Colorado River Valley; last week,they got to do even more, doling out another $10,000 to local entities they chose to help out with the money they collect over the year. 

This year’s recipients: The River Fund, Bennett Elementary School, The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Colorado River, Bullhead City Middle School, the Colorado River Historical Society, Fox Creek Junior High, The Guardian Foundation, Northern Arizona Veterans Resource Center, Saving Animals In Need Together and We Care For Animals, each of whom received a check for $1,000.

The ceremony was emceed by outgoing VIPs President Judy Critz, who has been an anchor for the organization for many years, always on the front lines. About 75 people showed up for the awards ceremony.

After the awards were handed out the entire room lined up for a group photo of the event, all with smiles on their faces for the great work and lasting benefits that the VIPs endow in the region annually.

Afterward, the VIPs held their regular meeting and their own farewell party of sorts for outgoing members Critz and Judy Taylor, both of whom are leaving the organization after many years of service. Critz has been the president of the organization for 3 1/2 years while Taylor is a founding member.

There was a farewell cake at the ceremony for the two to honor their longstanding service to the organization which read simply “Thank you both for everything,” a sentiment that all can share across the Colorado River valley for the great work and dedication of these two ladies over the years.

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