Northumberland United Way winds up successful campaign


by Cecilia Naismith

Northumberland United Way announced the good news at their annual campaign wrap-up breakfast April 4 - $834,078 raised in the 2017 campaign.

The sum surpassed their campaign goal of $831,500 announced last fall.

It was good news for the one in four Northumberland residents whom the agency assists in times that campaign spokesperson Diane Saunders called those “life-happens situations” that can range from the loss of a job to a death in the family.

It was also good news for chief executive officer Heather Norris, who was completing her first campaign since taking the job upon the retirement of Lynda Kay.

Norris pointed out a few factors in the success, such as the Sandra MacCoubrey Leadership Challenge.

Workplace campaigns – from industries to Northumberland Hills Hospital and several municipalities (Cobourg, Port Hope, Brighton) - accounted for $253,000 of the total, and Norris cited a few outstanding examples of support. For example, Behan Construction, which has supported the campaign for 11 years, is team sponsor for the April 14 NHL alumni game fundraiser.

Along with sponsoring such programs as Day of Caring and Backpacks for Kids, some workplaces have contributed for many years – Cameco Corporation for 26 years, dPk Interiors for 29, Lakefront Utilities for 32 and Sabic for 48.

“We hosted, participated, partnered and were the recipient of 56 events,” Norris added. These accounted for more than $100,000 raised - and that doesn't take into account in-kind contributions. The Lions Centre, for example, donates its premises for an annual strawberry dinner and Day of Caring, and the Best Western donates the space, food and staff for these annual breakfasts.

Local lawyers continue the United Way Will Week fundraisers begun years ago by the Stewart, Mitchell and Macklin firm. This year they completed more than 130 wills.

Norris also shared numbers from the services they provide to the community.

Their community funding partners include Northumberland Community Counselling Centre, Habitat For Humanity Northumberland, Cornerstone Family Violence Prevention Centre, Rebound Child and Youth Services, WrapAround Northumberland, The Help Centre, GreenWood Coalition, and Big Brothers Big Sisters Northumberland. The fundraisers these agencies held accounted for $11,000 of their campaign total.

Their 20th annual Day of Caring in June – which provides volunteer labour and materials for work on the physical premises of community agencies and qualifying individuals – had the most jobs and the most volunteers ever. The 21st annual one, on June 1, will take on more than 40 projects.

The Backpacks For Kids program began in 2005, to stuff donated backpacks with donated school supplies for children who faced going back to school in September without sufficient supplies. More than 1,200 backpacks were stuffed in 2017, bringing the total overall to more than 17,000.

Their 211 information service received more than 700 calls.

“We fundraise all year to do this successfully,” Norris said.

“We are committed to making Northumberland County an even better place to live for everyone.

“A healthy economy depends on a healthy community. We are filling the gap between what the community needs and where the tax dollars stop,” she said.

“This is the largest annual community fundraising event, helping thousands of people, and real change is made possible by you.”