TRURO – A new fundraising goal has been set for the United Way of Colchester County.
© Monique Chiasson - Truro Daily News
A number of local professionals discussed poverty and how it affects Colchester County during a United Way luncheon in Truro yesterday. Panelists included, from left, Truro police Chief Dave MacNeil; Mindy LeBlanc, community health board co-ordinator with the Colchester East Hants Health Authority; Susan Henderson, executive director of the local Canadian Mental Health Authority; Linda Legere, executive director of Maggie's Place; and Brenda Leenders, a public health nutritionist with the health authority.
During the organization’s annual luncheon at the Best Western Glengarry in Truro on Wednesday, Thomas Kayter, campaign chairman, announced $230,000 is the target fundraising goal for 2013-2014. The luncheon alone raised more than $4,000, or 13 per cent of that goal.
“We can all be an ambassador in the community. We can do amazing things in the community,” Kayter said, adding to the Truro Daily News that this luncheon “was the largest in the last four years.”
In 2011, the United Way raised $233,000 and organizers hoped last year’s campaign would result in at least that amount, however, it fell short by about $8,000.
Wednesday’s luncheon, which drew a crowd of more than 250 people, also presented a panel of community representatives who deal with the affects of poverty in a community.
Brenda Leenders, a public health nutritionist with the Colchester East Hants Health Authority, spoke about what food security means.
“It’s all people at all times having enough money to meet dietary needs …,” said Leenders, adding 23 per cent of households in Nova Scotia experience food insecurity and even some homes with two incomes “are still in the red at the end of the month. We as a community need to think about that.”
Truro police Chief Dave MacNeil added, “there are people (locally) who are just barely surviving. We (first responders) actually see first-hand how people do live and survive … no food, nothing for children to do,” he said, adding there are often related mental health issues, alcohol or drug additions and sometimes educational barriers in which “poverty can play a part.”
Panelists offered ways for the community and United Way to address poverty-related issues on an ongoing basis. Leenders said it’s imperative to keep the topic in mind.
“A good start is to think about poverty … and have government’s departments working together” to help with solutions, said Leenders. “We should lobby for adequate pay, affordable housing and child care … and buy local and become aware and speak up for those who can’t.”
Susan Henderson, executive director of the local Canadian Mental Health Association branch, said by continuing to talk about the “real issues” in the community, people will be willing to help organizations such as the United Way in its efforts to offer programs and assistance to those in need in the area.
“This community is generous when they know what’s needed,” said Henderson.
Linda Legere, executive director of Maggie’s Place, said it’s also important to be aware of how much time and effort goes into the community through the United Way.
“People don’t realize how great the community need is and how the United Way’s role has expanded,” Legere told this paper.
Mindy LeBlanc, community health board co-ordinator with the local health authority, added the community needs to “work together as a whole and not think about ourselves.”
Organization: The United Way of Colchester County
Fundraising goal for the next year: $230,000
Raised in 2011: $233,000
Raised last year: $225,000
Percentage of requests funded last year: 62 per cent
Number of bikes given out through the Bikes for Kids program: 70