Wednesday, 14 November 2012 14:40

Swift Current’s United Way gets off to an uplifting start

Written by  Jessi Gowan
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The Swift Current United Way hosted their annual kickoff breakfast for their 2012 campaign on Nov. 9, featuring a presentation by Dr. Dean Vause.

 

It was also an opportunity for new Executive Director Darla Lindbjerg to introduce herself to the community and talk about some of the organization’s goals for their 2012 fundraising season.
“I have lived in Swift Current for about a decade now; I grew up around here and I’m raising my family here,” Lindbjerg said. “I’ve got three kids under the age of 10, so I care very much about the social aspect of this community — making sure my kids have a community to grow up in. Working with the United Way helps me address some of the issues they might have to face, and gives me a platform to make a difference within the community.”
The United Way has been in Swift Current since 1966, and although the organization has a great reputation across Canada, Lindbjerg admitted many people didn’t realize Swift Current has a local branch.
For her, the lack of information was both negative and positive.
“The negative side to this is that it is hard to support something that people don’t know about, but on the flip side, when I inform them and educate them on what we do, people can make an informed decision,” she said.
“It’s my job to educate and raise awareness about what we do, so that people can make an informed choice about offering us their support.”
Money raised by the United Way is distributed to their 12 member agencies, and remains within the local area. Although many organizations have head offices outside of Swift Current, their representatives help out within the community, and offer important services to local residents.
“A lot of people think that money goes across the country or even the world, and that is really not the case,” Lindbjerg explained. “The agencies that we fundraise for have limited resources, and this allows them to spend their time and resources investing in the community through programs and services.”
Currently, the Swift Current United Way supports Canadian Mental Health, Canadian National Institute for the Blind, Canadian Paraplegic Association, Canadian Red Cross, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Early Childhood Intervention Program, Laleche League, Multiple Sclerosis Society, SK Abilities Council, Southwest Crisis Services, and St John Ambulance. They also have four more local organizations applying for agency status, as well.
“We do receive some larger corporate donations every year, and that’s huge. We appreciate them tremendously,” added Lindbjerg. “We are steadily supported by Innovation Credit Union, and this year also received substantial donations from Gibson Energy and RBC, but have a ways to go to reach our goal of $100,000.”
In addition to raising funds, Lindbjerg is also aiming to raise awareness within the community of the important role the United Way plays. They have several events throughout the year to engage the community.
“One of our main objectives this year is to get more organizations to participate in workplace campaigns, where people can have donations taken right out of their paycheques,” she explained. “People often don’t know how to give, and that’s such an easy way to give back to the community.”
The group is also looking forward to their ‘Week of Caring’ in the summer, when they will pair up community organizations in need of help with corporate volunteers who are willing to make a difference.
They are also organizing a golf tournament in the spring, and are currently selling tickets for their trip lottery.
“It’s our third year running it, and we are really hoping to sell out this year,” Lindbjerg said. “We’ve only got 999 tickets, but if we sell them all we could be giving over $20,000 back to our agency members. If we can do that, that’s a big thing.”
Tickets for the trip lottery can be purchased from United Way board members, from their website at www.swiftcurrentunitedway.ca, or by calling their office at 306-773-4828.
The United Way will be represented at local events and tradeshows throughout the holiday season.

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