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Tuesday, 10 November 2015 15:50

Many ways community can support United Way

Written by  Matthew Liebenberg
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Swift Current RBC Royal Bank Branch Manager Jesse Kitchen presents a cheque of $1,650 to Swift Current United Way Executive Director Stacey Schwartz. Oct. 2. Matthew Liebenberg/Prairie Post Swift Current RBC Royal Bank Branch Manager Jesse Kitchen presents a cheque of $1,650 to Swift Current United Way Executive Director Stacey Schwartz. Oct. 2. Matthew Liebenberg/Prairie Post

The ability of the Swift Current United Way to provide financial assistance to 12 local agencies depends on the level of support from the community, both individuals and companies.

There are many ways the community can support the United Way, varying from individual and corporate donations to workplace fundraising efforts as well as special event sponsorship and gifts in kind. All donations go into the United Way’s community fund that is used to support local agencies.
“Throughout the year, we get grant requests,” Swift Current United Way Executive Director Stacey Schwartz said. “This year our goal is $110,000 and it’s going towards 12 different community programs. A lot of them people are very familiar with — Southwest Homes, Southwest Crisis Services, Mental Health, just to name a few.”
Swift Current RBC Royal Bank Branch Manager Jesse Kitchen recently presented a cheque of $1,650 to the United Way.
“We try to be an active member of any community that we’re in,” he said. “We have a long history with United Way both locally and nationally. So we’re very happy to be able to contribute and help out.”
This donation came through the RBC Foundation, which supports a variety of community initiatives across Canada.
“Our foundation is our giving chapter,” he explained. “That’s where all our community grants and community funding stuff comes from. We fund quite a few organizations here locally in Swift Current, United Way being one of them.”
According to Schwartz, there is growing support from businesses for the Swift Current United Way.
“I think as we expand our awareness it will become easier,” she said. “We had some new businesses even this year that I’ve gone and done some workplace presentations at that we never had any partnership with before. So I am seeing new businesses. It definitely means a lot that businesses year after year are still supporting us, RBC being one of them.”
Companies and their employees can support the United Way through the payroll deduction program. RBC employees in Swift Current participate in the program and the United Way will receive a cheque at the end of the year for all the monthly deductions.
“So throughout the year, they keep track and come December they send us a cheque for the total amount for the year,” she said. “It usually is around $2,000. This is just local employees that are giving from their paycheque, that’s not RBC across Canada. That’s a big sacrifice on their employees’ part and we really appreciate it.”
There are currently 10 businesses that participate in the payroll deduction program. Some submit the payroll deductions on a monthly basis to the United Way and others submit the full amount once a year.
“We have about five that give monthly cheques and then the other five like RBC give us a year-end total amount,” she said. “We have a lot of the national banks — TD, RBC, BMO and then Farm Credit give to that — and some local businesses like Millennium Land.”
The payroll deduction program helps the United Way to have a regular cash flow to the community fund.
“It definitely adds a consistent monthly amount if you have consistent donations rolling in that you know you’re going to have,” she said. “When you don’t necessarily have the payroll donations you’re banking on, you don’t know at the end of the month what you’re going to be finishing at. So it definitely adds a more stable, sustainable model to what we’re trying to do.”
The Swift Current United Way has established an external grant committee that assists the board of directors to review grant requests from the 12 local agencies. The members of this committee are Jesse Kitchen of RBC, Trevor Marion of the Living Sky Casino, Dr. Craig Menzies of Vision Care, Elden Moberg of Stark & Marsh and Cortney Reynolds of the Southwest Regional Intersectoral Committee.
“This is new,” Schwartz said. “This is the first time that we’ve ever done an external. … We have a really diverse group of individuals who are heavily involved in the community. They know what programs they’re personally giving to outside of United Way, maybe they’re involved with Kiwanis or other service groups. So just expanding the expertise and helping us have greater insight in where some bigger needs are in our community and where we should be funding.”
Kitchen said his involvement with the external grant committee gave him insight into the extent of the need within the community.
“There obviously is a great need for various organizations that are doing great programs here locally and we’re just happy to be able to help out with that in any way that we can,” he mentioned.

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