United Way officially kicked off its 50th anniversary fundraising campaign to a crowd of 500 supporters at the Sheraton Hotel last week.
The luncheon marked the start of a four-month fundraising drive to support the three pillars of focus for United Way – education, income and wellness. These pillars are used to serve various groups in Central Alberta to develop programs, encourage citizens and create change in the community.
Campaign Cabinet Co-Chair Lynne Mulder was happy to engage in the event, and share her hopes for the campaign.
“United Way has given me an opportunity to see our community with a different lens,” she said of the organization.
“It allows me to see the different kinds of people and the struggles that they’re having. I get to see those less fortunate than myself and how hard they are working, and how a little bit of assistance can really help them.”
This year’s highlights of the event included impactful stories by those whose lives had been changed through United Way funded programs. As well, a video presentation was made to celebrate 50 years of the United Way in the community.
In honour of the 50th anniversary, Central Alberta United Way created a Community Legacy Impact Grant. A ‘Dragon’s Den’ – style series of presentations were made to members of the United Way board, with the Central Alberta Poverty Reduction Alliance being named the recipients of the grant this year.
To continue with their recent model, United Way did not announce a fundraising total, but rather looked towards an impact total.
“This year, we are not announcing a fundraising total, but instead we are hoping to announce an impact total. That impact is about number of people we have helped and will help. It’s about the number of children that have benefited from this program and who are able to build a solid foundation for their lives through United Way sponsored programs,” Mulder explained.
“It’s about moving people from poverty to possibility, and I think that’s really an awesome thought. Over the years United Way has moved from being just a fundraising group to a capacity builder, and that’s something that’s been very important to me,” she added.
This year, the kick-off luncheon saw the largest attendance in many years. As well, it was announced that the Jumpstart Program campaign had already brought in a significantly high number of donations – a total of $212,820.
“Our community is strong,” said Mulder.
“Although most of us may feel economic pressure right now, there are people that feel that pressure every single day of their lives. Now is the time to show what Central Alberta is made of and to make a lasting impact on our region.”
United Way supports a variety of organizations and initiatives through fundraising and continued financial support. Last year, Central Alberta United Way launched its 211 program, a service to connect and refer individuals to services that they may be in need of, but unaware of. The online portion of the program was launched last June, and the phone line portion of the program was launched this past March.
“I would just like to say that United Way is an awesome organization to be part of. I would encourage people to be a part of it, and I say thank you to each person who helped us make a difference last year,” Mulder said.