The best way to prevent crime is to help people before they slip through a community’s social safety net, RCMP Supt. Yves Lacasse told a crowd of 500 at the breakfast kick-off of the United Way’s annual campaign Friday.
Lacasse, this year’s campaign chairman, said he got involved in the United Way because RCMP officers deal continually with social problems such as substance abuse, poverty, homelessness and domestic abuse.
And he knows what some of those issues are firsthand, having come from a “humble” background of his own, he said. He added no more, but did say Kamloops is the best place he has ever lived.
“This place has given me and my family so much. I have a dream and I have a goal — to make Kamloops the healthiest and safest community in Canada.”
Lacasse also unveiled this year’s fundraising goal — $2 million. Last year’s campaign set a goal of $1.9 million and raised $1.97 million by its end.
Lacasse told the crowd the number is not picked arbitrarily but reflects what is needed to keep the city’s many social agencies afloat. He added Kamloops has always risen to the challenge in the past, and he is hopeful this year will be no different.
Mayor Peter Milobar noted crime rates in Kamloops are dropping, in part because the programs funded by the Thompson-Nicola-Cariboo United Way provide would-be criminals with alternatives.
“It gives them the kind of help they need,” he said.
United Way executive director Brenda Aynsley told the crowd several unique events helped the campaign hit its goals in 2011.
The RCMP’s “Jail-and-Bail” event, where local leaders were arrested and held ransom for pledges, set a one-day record, she noted, raising $47,000.
The RCMP also raised $32,000 by hosting a regimental ball.
Thompson Rivers University earned the spotlight for holding the most fun fundraising event of the year — at “Tie-Pie Tuesday,” when $5 earned people the chance to throw a pie in the face of a TRU senior administrator or faculty member, or cut off the person’s tie.
Highland Valley Copper topped all the donors in 2011 with a whopping $300,000, a corporate match to the United Steelworkers’ equal fundraising efforts. As well, Highland Valley pledged $325,000 for this year.
Domtar raised $97,000 in 2011 and Gibraltar Mines, $95,000.
Mark Freberg, the United Way board president, said United Way hopes to make some changes this year in how it allocates funds to groups in the community.
“We’re looking into the possibility of making multi-year investment decisions,” he said, benefiting groups by providing funding stability.
“Instead of thinking of providing funds as allocations, we now think of (it) as an investment process,” he said.
Domtar funded the breakfast at the Kamloops Convention Centre, which was attended by local politicians, businesspeople, community groups and volunteers.