HEARTWARMING – Scott Raabis tells his story of his struggles with schizophrenia and how the Schizophrenia Society helped him. The Schizophrenia Society is one of over 40 programs supported by the United Way.

United Way kicks off annual campaign

  • Sep. 17, 2014 3:08 p.m.

The United Way of Central Alberta held their annual campaign kick off luncheon last week and announced their campaign slogan of ‘Bring the Change’.

Unlike past years where the United Way would announce their fundraising goals at the annual luncheon, this year supporters heard there would be an open campaign fundraising goal.

“We have not identified a precise number for our goal. We didn’t want to limit our possibilities. We didn’t want to put a cap on them because every year we raise money and every year the gap between what we raise and what we need is still there. Our goal this year is to close that gap – to come closer and closer,” said Campaign Co-Chair Lynne Mulder. “Rather than just looking at the money we raise, we want to make sure we have a bigger impact on our community.”

The four month-long fundraising campaign aims to raise money for various services and programs that support Central Albertans.

This year’s campaign slogan ‘Bring The Change’ encourages residents to get off the sidelines and bring the change by giving, acting or volunteering.

“If everyone does just a little bit to make a change, the result is that we can collectively make some dramatic and positive changes in our community,” said Mulder. “Every year, we are amazed by the generosity of our community members and we are here to ask everyone to step forward again and renew their commitment to the community through the United Way.”

Scott Raabis, 31, was among those who shared stories on how United Way has impacted their lives.

After being hospitalized a number of times during his battle with schizophrenia and a stint of homelessness, Raabis finally found solace in treatment and support from Central Alberta’s Safe Harbour Society for Health and Housing, the Canadian Mental Health Association and the local chapter of the Schizophrenia Society of Alberta – all of which receive funding from United Way.

Raabis, who grew up in Red Deer, spoke of how he has since improved relationships with his father, as well as joined local comedy troupe Bull Skit as a performer.

“Things are looking pretty optimistic, but there were certainly some dark times,” said Raabis, who was top of his graduating class at Hunting Hills High School. “I’m at a point where I can actually talk to my doctor about schizophrenia and be proactive.”

Wanda Lawrence, 53, also shared her story of how the United Way has helped her on her journey. Lawrence told those at the event how she was sexually abused as a youth and at one point believed there was nowhere to turn to get help.

“It’s something you just accept. You endure. You shut up and keep it to yourself. But I learned at the Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre that it’s not acceptable. We can talk about it and we can reveal secrets that we kept buried within. Those secrets hurt us when we keep them inside. We need to talk about them and there has to be a safe place to do that,” she said. “The United Way funds the sexual assault centre and I am so grateful from the bottom of my heart for all of the donations and support.”

For more information on the United Way visit www.caunitedway.ca.

Jswan@reddeerexpress.com

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