Wednesday, 25 February 2015 16:46

United Way receives sponsorship support for Foundation of Hope gala

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The Swift Current United Way has secured a new sponsor for a high-profile gala event later this year to highlight the important work done by member agencies in the community.

The 1st annual Foundation of Hope gala, which will take place Nov. 7, moved an important step closer to reality with the Feb. 17 announcement of a $15,000 sponsorship by JayDee AgTech.
According to JayDee AgTech CEO and General Manager Duane Smith the company previously provided financial assistance to individual organizations supported by the United Way.
“It’s the first time we’ve sponsored the United Way and the package that was put together with the gala event on November 7 we thought was a great way to present the United Way to the community,” he said. “When we looked at analyzing all the giving that we do in the southwest and in the Swift Current area, we thought this was an opportunity to really focus on some of the organizations the United Way sponsors and so it was a great opportunity for us to step forward and support them in a big way.”
Swift Current United Way Executive Director Stacey Schwartz said it is important to have JayDee AgTech as the presenting sponsor for the event.
“We’re really excited that JayDee AgTech believed in the vision, in the mission of the gala,” she mentioned. “That’s huge for our event … having an organization like JayDee who makes a huge impact in our community already to have them believe in the vision of the United Way. That gives us more credibility as well when we go to other businesses and present the idea to them.”
Smith said it was evident from the package presented to the company that the 12 member agencies of the Swift Current United Way will benefit from the gala.
“It allowed us to really see what they’re doing in the community, how they’re benefitting from it, why they need the funds,” he explained. “It is an easy way for us to do it through one organization such as the United Way opposed to the 12 or so benefactors approaching us directly. It was much simpler, much more effective and we’re pleased to do that.”
He added the gala will assist the United Way to raise its profile in the community and to benefit each of the member agencies.
“It’s really going to put the focus on what the United Way stands for, why they need funds, who they’re funneling those funds to,” he said. “I think the gala event is something new to the community. It’s creative, it’s classy and I like seeing new events like that for the community. So I think it’s just really one way that we can take this to a next level and we wanted to jump on board and be a presenting sponsor.”
Schwartz noted the gala will probably be the first one to be organized by a United Way in Saskatchewan.
“As far as I know in Saskatchewan this will be the first ever gala with this type of vision and approach,” she said. “I believe larger United Ways, in Toronto, have done galas, but for Saskatchewan we’re the only United Way that’s doing this right now. It’s exciting and we’re hoping that this can be an annual event that raises funds for these agencies that can meet the needs that they have.”
The 12 member agencies of the Swift Current United Way provide more than 150 programs and services in the Swift Current area. Their impact is significant and approximately one in seven people in the city are using or have used a service provided by a United Way member agency.
“They’re the ones doing behind the scenes work, they’re the ones that reach out to the vulnerable sectors,” she said. “They’re always putting out those fires in our community and they help give Swift Current the reputation that it has. It’s a good city for raising a family.
The idea of a gala was the result of a significant increase in the funding needs of member agencies, which became evident last fall when Schwartz looked at their funding requests.
“We had double what we had the year before,” she said. “We had $130,000 requested for the community program. So I started to see the need increasing rather than decreasing. … That’s when we started thinking about a better way that we can do a fundraiser and we can do something different that can raise funds on a higher scale.”
The gala will take place at the Living Sky Casino Sky Centre. It will be an exclusive event with only 184 seats available.
“We have limited sponsorship opportunities,” she said. “I have lots of businesses interested and some have already committed.”
Vision Care Clinic is a gold sponsor, Sask Valley Dental is a silver sponsor, and Standard Motors is one of the wine sponsors.
“We are still looking to fill some,” she said about sponsorships. “So definitely, if businesses want to be on board with this, I would recommend it’s sooner than later because they’re not going to be available for long.”

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Matthew Liebenberg