Improving lives, building stronger Cumberland

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Darrell Cole
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United Way begins new campaign with high hopes

It’s because of the United Way that a number of community organizations are able to serve people from one end of Cumberland County to the other.

Cathy Skinner of the United Way of Cumberland talks to Amherst Rotarian and United Way board member David McNairn (left) and Rotary president Paul Calder. 

 

AMHERST – It’s because of the United Way that a number of community organizations are able to serve people from one end of Cumberland County to the other.

Speaking to the Amherst Rotary Club on Monday, United Way of Cumberland’s executive director Cathy Skinner said the organization’s fundraising efforts have benefited many people since 1958.

“For 55 years, our United Way has been helping to improve lives and build a strong community by engaging individuals and mobilizing collective action,” Skinner told Rotarians. “Experience has made it clear that solely focusing on the fulfillment of immediate needs such as hunger, meant those needs would only be addressed in short term. The key to sustained change is address the underlying causes.”

In January 1958, the Amherst Board of Trade established a committee to consider the ongoing needs of the community as well as those organizations providing programs.

Skinner said organizations were finding it difficult to find volunteers and people in the community were finding it difficult to respond to so many fundraising campaigns running concurrently.

Skinner said the Amherst United Appeal was incorporated in May 1958 with J.W. Douglas as president and G.L. Angus as campaign chairman. The first campaign goal was $25,000.

The first goal was not met as the inaugural campaign was cut short by the Springhill mine disaster in October of that year.

Skinner said there are 118 United Ways across Canada that gather local resources and put them back to work in the communities they serve.

“We have an amazing group of local volunteer directors and in-house canvassers that give their time and talent to raise fund to ensure that seniors, children and families have the resources they need,” Skinner said.

The United Way of Cumberland has only one season full-time employee who works from mid-August until April, and the organization supports local businesses when purchasing campaign and office materials.

Skinner said the 2013 campaign recently kicked off with a goal of $150,000 that goes to support nine members agencies including the 211 program, Amherst Pre-School, Cumberland County Transportation Society, the Cumberland Early Intervention Program, Maggie’s Place, the Sexual Health Centre for Cumberland, St. John Ambulance and the Victorian Order of Nurses.

“Every year in November we start accepting applications from local organizations for funding. A committee of volunteer board members reviews all applications and decides on the needs of the community and what programs will benefit Cumberland County residents,” Skinner said.

She said funding for Maggie’s Place allows it to offer the Pop Up Plus Program across the county. It’s a program that allows children to develop and enhance their social skills before entering school.

Foot care clinics, offered by the VON, are important to seniors and diabetics.

“As an organization that targets the root cause of social issues and allows us to create change in our community, the United Way creates opportunities for a better life for everyone in Cumberland County,” Skinner said. “Our United Way works with local service organizations to help with the goal of ensuring a social support network. This network of services in turn strengthens the entire community.”

darrell.cole@tc.tc

Twitter: @ADNdarrell

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