By Ian MacAlpine, Kingston Whig-Standard
The United Way of Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington has exceeded its fundraising goal for yet another year, this time by a margin of about $4,000.
Campaign chair Pat Murphy made the announcement that the campaign raised $3,504,001 in front of approximately 500 volunteers at the end of the annual Touchdown Breakfast on Thursday at the Ambassador Hotel.
The $3.5-million goal was the highest in United Way’s more than 75-year history, but the amount raised was not. That happened last year when $3,702,100 was brought in.
The United Way serves approximately 55,000 people in the area with its 45 member agencies conducting 72 programs.
Last year’s goal of $3.45 million was reached and exceeded thanks to the Kingston Penitentiary tours, which in 2016 brought in $322,000.
But the money raised from the extended tours this year, $800,000 after sharing the proceeds with the St. Lawrence Parks Commission, was not included in the fundraising total. That meant the agency found an equal amount of money in the community for the annual campaign, a number Murphy called “phenomenal.”
Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson said 100,000 people toured the penitentiary in 2017. The United Way’s share from the tours is earmarked for its youth homelessness initiative.
“It flows through us, but it has nothing to do with the community number,” Murphy said in an interview after the breakfast.
In his speech to a packed ballroom, Murphy said the campaign team worked together to reach a common goal: to help the community.
“United Way campaigns are extremely rewarding and successful, thanks to the efforts of volunteers just like you,” he said.
Like any campaign, Murphy said, it had its successes and challenges.
“It is never easy, but somehow you’ve found a way. Every dollar counts,” he said.
Afterwards, Murphy was asked what it was like in the final days of the campaign trying to reach the goal.
“A lot of extra phone calls, following up with a lot of people that said they had money or were hoping to have money,” he said. “Everybody was running around just making sure that we had all the money in, because we can’t not have the money in and have a number we have to have, the actual number that we have.
Without the pen tour money, Murphy knew he and the campaign cabinet had to work hard to reach the goal.
“As campaign chair this year, I wanted to push, I wanted to make sure our cabinet was in on it. Let’s make it even higher because if we raise more money we help more people. That’s the key.”
The goal should go up every year, Murphy said.
“There’s inflation costs, we need to add more programs and help more people in our community,” he said.
Murphy said 70 per cent of the money raised came from workplace campaigns.
Before the goal was unveiled, the crowd heard from a former foster child, 19-year-old Sabrina Tedford.
“It’s amazing to see how much our community can do,” she said. “I’m an example how your toonie or five dollars can go a long way.”
Tedford said she went into foster care when her mother had to give her up due to health issues.
“My life went down a pretty bad path. I ended up moving out of my foster home way too early at 16,” she said.
Tedford then ended up in a group home after undergoing some legal trouble.
“But thanks to a bunch of wonderful staff that were at my group home, I learned about this wonderful place called Home Base Housing,” she said.
“They told me that they would be able to help me get back on track to where I wanted to go so I could go to college and succeed in my life.”
She said she’s proud of herself and the trials she’s overcome.
“I have a long way to go to where I want to be, but I’m not afraid, because I have some amazing people who are supporting me.”
She’s currently attending the Catarqui Learning Centre, taking courses so she can qualify go to college to study behavioral science technology.
“Thank you for supporting the United Way. Thank you for supporting all the wonderful, amazing work they do and the awesome community resources they give us,” she said.
During the breakfast, dozens of workplaces were given the opportunity to reveal how much they raised for the United Way. Amounts varied from hundreds of dollars from small businesses to large employers contributing six-figure sums.
The largest contributor was the collection of students, staff and retirees at Queen’s University that committed $320,000, followed by Empire Life at $242,000 and Canadian Forces Base Kingston at more than $208,000.
According to the United Way, 85 per cent of its funds raised go to programs and services, with 12 per cent to fundraising costs and three per cent for administration.
Its costs are among the lowest in the charity sector, said information included in a news release.