United Way raises $1.443M

Jan 22 • Feature Story, Local NewsNo Comments on United Way raises $1.443M

From left 2019 United Way campaign team leaders are Ken Bechard of Arrival Benefits Solutions, with Advanced Realty Solutions personnel Bill Myers, Sheila Young, Tricia Weese, Tim Lawrence, Laurie Reaume, and Tony Reed.

An errant step by a goose may have caused a delay for the United Way of Chatham-Kent’s (UWOCK) touchdown event last week, but it didn’t short-circuit the results.

The 2019 campaign, led by the team at Advanced Realty, raised more than $1.443 million, 96 per cent of the $1.5 million target.

The touchdown announcement came at a breakfast event at the Links of Kent golf course Jan. 15 that was delayed by about an hour due to a goose fatally coming in contact with a power line, according to UWOCK officials.

Steve Pratt, UWOCK CEO, said the final fundraising number may have fallen slightly short of the target, but there are no complaints.

“We set our goal based on what we think we’re able to raise in the market. There are different things that happen in the market each year in terms of the number of calls that are out there for donations,” he said, referring to needs from other non-profit organizations.

Bill Myers, broker of record for Advanced Realty, said he and his team are happy with the final number.

“We put all our effort into it. We left no stones unturned,” he said. “Goals are always a challenge. We got very close, however.”

Tricia Weese, an Advanced sales rep and a veteran of United Way campaigns, said the team worked diligently to try to reach the aggressive goal.

“We knew going into this that it was going to be a challenge. We were advised that $1.5 million was very aggressive, but we didn’t want to sell it short. We tried to work as hard as we could to get there.”

Last year’s campaign, led by teen Caterina Dawson, raised $1.565 million, exceeding its $1.556 million goal.

Pratt said with the lower level of funds raised, some adjustments will have to be made in terms of what programs are funded and to what amount.

“You can’t fund when you don’t have money to give. It does create a few challenges that way, but it’s something we have to work through,” he said.

This year marked the first time a business, rather than a chair or co-chairs, led the UWOCK campaign. Those involved said it worked well.

“We’ve been involved with the United Way for a few years doing a few events and donations and such. We just liked the approach of a team doing it (leading the campaign),” Myers said. “Our company is a perfect fit because we work very well together and wanted to give back to the community.”

Myers would encourage other businesses to follow Advanced’s lead.

“I would say it’s a great experience and I would highly recommend it to any small business or company,” he said. “You get way more done with a team than you do yourself.”

Weese described the effort as good for team building as well.

“We were on the front lines willing to do anything. Whether it was selling 50/50 tickets in the front of the Beer Store or going into workplaces. We had the manpower to be able to do it, and we wanted to be as involved as we could,” she said.

Pratt said the team approach could be campaign changing.

“If we have other companies that step up in this way, that would be phenomenal,” he said. “Just the energy that came with it. It’s an enormous undertaking to try to raise $1.5 million, even with a co-chair. But to have seven or eight people coming out made it much more manageable.

“They still put in a tremendous amount of time and effort, but they could divide up some of the events.”

The funds raised during Campaign 2019 will be distributed locally to ensure that people have access to the programs and services they need to thrive today. In 2020, United Way’s work will continue to address issues through community research, strategic leadership, local advocacy and cross-sectoral partnerships.

Pratt, who co-chaired the campaign in 2016, said leading the campaign is an eye-opening experience into the needs across the municipality.

“Being on the campaign, you are really getting out there and deep into the issues. A lot of reasons people connect with the United Way are reasons you don’t want to run home and stick a flag in your front yard and say, ‘Hey, I had this happen.’ These are things you kind of deal with quietly.”

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