The United Way’s annual Community Campaign has officially begun after a community kick-off breakfast at Shell Place on Saturday morning. The 10-week fundraising effort will set out to raise $8 million according to Campaign Chair Colin Hartigan.
“This isn’t really about an $8 million goal,” he said in front of a large crowd in the Shell Place Ballroom. “It is about an $8 million need.”
Hartigan pointed out that the goal is unchanged from last year, because the need is there in the community as the United Way continues to support agencies in the community.
“One hundred percent of our agencies didn’t receive one hundred percent of what they needed last year,” he said. “The Board (of the United Way) was very clear that this campaign goal had to reflect what is really required. These are real dollars that are going to do real work in the community.”
“This is what resiliency looks like,” said Hartigan, as he launched into a touching conversation with young Koston.
“What happened to your house?” asked Hartigan.
“It got on fire,” said Koston. “Then it fell down.”
“What do you think of your new house?” he asked.
“It’s awesome,” replied Koston, with a bright beaming smile.
The people in attendance – agencies, volunteers, workplace campaign teams and community members – could feel the optimism, pride and power of the Community Campaign theme as Koston confidently belted it out into the microphone.
“This is home!”
It was a particularly heartfelt Kick-Off for Executive Director Diane Shannon, her last, as she will retire in December. She received a standing ovation after remarks that reflected her passion for the United Way and the community.
The free community pancake breakfast, generously provided by DMG Events, producers of the Oil Sands Trade Show and Conference, concluded with an activity in the adjacent indoor turf field. Each guest had been assigned a letter: H, O, M, or E. They joined family, friends, co-workers, and neighbours and spelled the word HOME to form the 2016 Community Campaign portrait.
The fundraising drive to replenish the Community Fund will run from now until November 18th.