Friday, September 15, 2017
By Ian MacAlpine, Kingston Whig-Standard
For Patrick Murphy, this year’s chair of the United Way of Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington campaign, it’s all about giving back to the community and giving to the community.
Murphy, an owner/partner at Secura Financial Group, has enthusiastically taken up the task to chair a United Way campaign that has a fundraising goal of $3.5 million, up about $50,000 from the 2016 total.
“I just like helping people out,” he said in an interview on Friday at his west-end office. “Everybody needs help. There’s a lot of people in Third World countries that need help and I love it when people help people in Third World countries. I like helping mostly in Kingston, in our community. That’s just me.”
Murphy was vice-chair of last year’s campaign but got to serve as the lead person on many occasions as 2016 chair Brig.-Gen. Steve Kelsey was deployed to Iraq partway through the campaign to work with coalition forces in the fight against ISIS.
He said last year’s experience helped him decide that he was ready to take up the position this year.
“Do it now while I still have some energy,” he said.
Murphy has served 12 years on the United Way’s financial committee and spent the past three years in the cabinet.
The married father of two has been a financial adviser for 23 years and, with Jeff Hancock and Ray Calver, created Secura Financial Group in 2004.
Murphy said being a part owner of a business gives him some flexibility time-wise.
“I love working community stuff, too, so it’s great because if I do some community stuff during the day, I can work on some work stuff at night, in the mornings or weekends,” he said.
Murphy is no stranger to the Kingston scene, from attending many community and sports events to his time as a band member of the 1980s tribute band 80s Enuff.
“I’m involved in Knights of Columbus, I was involved in Feb Fest stuff before and I’ve helped out St. Lawrence College.”
He also helped secure an intermediate AA women’s hockey franchise for the Kingston Ice Wolves organization.
Murphy said the band does about five charity concerts per year around Kingston. They have scaled back their appearances over the years. He said the other five members of the band have helped to raise a lot of money for the community over the years.
“We’ve been associated with events that have raised over $500,000,” he said.
Murphy also takes part in many community-related events each year, whether it’s to help a sick child or a needy organization.
“That kind of stuff energizes me,” he said.
The band will perform for the United Way in October, perhaps with a Halloween theme, Murphy said.
He’s not daunted by the multimillion-dollar goal of the local campaign.
“The goal, $3.5 million, is huge. The big thing is, and I’ve been promoting this a lot, the United Way never sleeps,” Murphy said.
He said that even though the three-month campaign happens in the fall, the United Way is a year-round operation.
“There are so many things that go on in the community that we cannot see,” he said.
“Everything gets more expensive and the more money we can raise, the more people we can help.”
Murphy said 55,000 people used the local United Way’s services in 2016.
He said the campaign depends on the generosity of large Kingston employers such as Queen’s University, Canadian Forces Base Kingston and Empire Life to meet and exceed the fundraising goal. About 70 per cent of their funds come from workplace donations.
“That’s why it’s so important for us. If we didn’t have that money it would be scary,” he said. “My big thing has been every dollar counts, that’s the key for me. I want everybody to realize that your dollar, your $10, your $1,000 or whatever. If you give that, you’re on a winning team.
“We haven’t missed our goal in 17 years, and I certainly don’t want us to miss it while I’m at the helm.
“The United Way is so important in our community. People need to keep giving.”
Since the kickoff breakfast last Friday, Murphy said he’s been to many United Way events already.
He said he’s looking forward to one of the campaign’s major fundraisers, Fare for Friends, on Sunday from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Vimy’s Officers Mess at CFB Kingston.
The event is advertised as the region’s favourite garden party, featuring culinary delights, wine tasting, martinis, microbrewery beer and live entertainment.
There’s also a silent auction featuring the work of many area artisans.
“The Fare for Friends is awesome,” Murphy said. “The community rallies around these type of events.”
Murphy said the event works well because all of the food and drinks are donated by local restaurants, wineries and craft beer breweries, and silent auction items are donated by artisans and local businesses. As well, there are volunteers who put up the tent and set up the tables and chairs and don’t get much recognition, but they keep the overhead costs of running the event down.
“At the end of the day, that whole event creates a lot of money for our campaign as well,” Murphy said. “We need all these things to make it work.”
He also credited personnel at CFB Kingston for making the event a success.
“They help out so much each and every year.”
Tickets for the event are $160 per person or $152 each for a 10-person group.
Murphy stressed the community needs the United Way more than ever.
“We need to keep raising money in our community, and the United Way is not going away,” he said. “It’s a great place to live in, Kingston, but we need to make sure we’re taking care of our own, too.”
So far, the United Way has raised $613,903, or about 18 per cent of its goal. The campaign wraps up on Nov. 30.