United Way Central Alberta CEO Brett Speight and Board Chair Josh Edwards kicked off the 53rd Annual United Way Central Alberta Fundraising Campaign. Todd Colin Vaughan/Red Deer Express

WATCH: United Way Central Alberta kicks off 53rd Annual Fundraising Campaign

$2.1 million and over 19,000 Central Albertans were supported last year

The United Way Central Alberta is looking to improve the lives of even more Central Albertans with their 53rd Annual Fundraising Campaign.

The campaign, which was introduced at the Sheraton Hotel in Red Deer at the United Way’s annual Kick-off Luncheon, is using the hashtag #unignorable to address that the United Way is addressing needs that can’t go unnoticed in the community.

Brett Speight, CEO United Way Central Alberta, said the organization is exited to kick-off their 53rd year.

“Through our campaign, we raise funds to support member agencies,” he said. “The campaign is our major fundraising event for the year and the kick-off lunch really helps get that excitement going and helps shine a light on the causes we support, through the three pillars of income, wellness and education.”

Each member organization represents at least one of those three pillars and the campaign last year raised over $2.1 million for local charities.

“We used to set goals in the past around fundraising,” Speight said. “We don’t set financial goals anymore — we look at how may lives we can improve. Last year through the generosity of Central Alberta, we were able to improve 19,000 lives.

“Obviously our goal is to do better than that this year. We haven’t set a specific number but 19,000 is our benchmark.”

That number is also only people who are directly impacted by the United Way and its member organizations, according to United Way Central Alberta Board Chair Josh Edwards.

“Think about their families and people around them and the influence in the community they bring. I know it affects way more than just the 19,000 people,” Edwards said.

Speight said it would be difficult to describe the over 40 programs and services the campaign supports, but they all fall under their three pillars.

“We do support a number of Big Brothers Big Sisters programs to make sure kids have a good start and good access to mentoring,” he said. “We support a number of mental health organizations. Canadian Mental Health Association is one, but there are many others.”

Edwards said each organization carries unique demands.

“Some may require large funds, while other require small funds. When they apply for funding through the process, they assess how much they can give back based on the funds collected,” Edwards said.

Donations can be made through the various United Way Central Alberta events throughout the year and also at caunitedway.ca.

“There are many volunteer opportunities. The information is available on our website. They can also give us a call at our office,” Speight added.

“We have about 50 volunteers at any given time working in some capacity within the organizations,” Edwards said. “We are always seeking new volunteers and new blood to the group.”

The United Way Central Alberta is also looking to hear feedback from the community on how they can better meet the needs of the community.

“I would like to thank the residents of Central Alberta for all their previous generosity. I look forward to this year’s campaign,” Speight said.

todd.vaughan@reddeerexpress.com

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