If the sold-out breakfast with 530 enthusiastic supporters Friday is any indication, The Thompson Nicola Cariboo United Way will reach its ambitious goal of raising $1.8 million in 2010.
The annual kickoff event drew wide community representation from business, labour, political and social agencies. All will participate in the fundraising campaign that relies heavily on employers and employees working together on behalf of the United Way and its partner agencies.
But while the campaign has an ambitious goal, the United Way is about so much more than money, said the organization’s director of resource development.
“United Way is a feeling,” said Melodie Grabner. “It’s about total wellness of the community.”
With programs such as therapeutic riding or Birthday Blessings for low-income families, the money raised helps many people who have obstacles to overcome, she said.
“That’s something we can show you, but what we can’t show you is the impact that has on the community.”
In 2009, the TNC United Way raised $1.63 million despite the loss of some long-time contributors when their workplaces closed their doors.
Brenda Aynsley, United Way executive director, said the community steps up every year to fill those voids. This year “25 new friends” have joined the 2010 campaign.
During the kickoff breakfast, several businesses took to the microphone to make their pledges for the coming year. Others hinted at the creative workplace campaigns that lie ahead. All employers and employees in the region were encouraged to do what they can for the partner agencies that rely on the United Way to finance essential programs.
At the end of the morning, the United Way was $246,000 toward its goal.
“This is going to be a challenging year, but I know that we can do it,” said campaign cabinet chairman Steve Earl. “We are going to be successful. We are going to have a terrific year. We are going to have a fantastic campaign.”
It comes down to the power of one, he said. Every person makes a difference.
“We all give,” he said to the crowd. “We all care. We all know someone who is not giving. Let’s encourage them” to get on board.
Past chairman Tony Ryan paid tribute to one person who exemplifies the power of one, Rod Killough, human resources manager at Highland Valley Copper. He served on the United Way board of directors for years and led his own workplace annually to bigger campaign donations every year.
Since 2002, Highland Valley and its employees have raised more than $3.5 million for the TNC United Way. Killough retires from the mine at the end of the year.