Friday, August 6, 2010

Campaign finishes on a high note


THANKS to everyone who made a contribution to the 2010 ShareLife campaign before it concluded on July 31.

THANKS to everyone who volunteered their time to help the campaign along. Whether it was organizing a bake sale at work, helping out with a fun fair at a school, serving meals at a church charity dinner, or counting contributions after ShareLife Sunday collections at a parish, you made a difference.

THANKS to you all.

The final tally isn’t in yet but it looks like we’re on track for a record Parish Campaign! After falling nearly $300,000 behind previous results last year, Catholics in the Archdiocese of Toronto have stepped forward like never before to support the critical work of ShareLife funded agencies. It appears that we've recovered that lost ground and gained some as well - thanks, I'm sure, to the added incentive of the ShareLife Community Challenge! While we're not likely to reach the $12 million goal, we’re on track to surpass any amount ever raised before in the Parish Campaign.

When I know the results, I’ll pass it on to you here.

In the meantime, we can celebrate together! More than 225,000 people – each with a personal and unique story, and pain – will receive the care and support they need to lift themselves up and live with dignity. All with the help of generous ShareLife supporters.

Thank you once again. You are working wonders!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Wonders of Mary Centre

I had the pleasure last week of visiting some of the locations for Mary Centre, a ShareLife agency that serves people with developmental challenges. I was there with photographer Bill Wittman, collecting photographs and stories for upcoming campaigns – look for the results in the 2011 ShareLife promotional material!

I’m fortunate in my work because I have the opportunity to see how ShareLife funding makes a difference in the community; how it changes lives and lifts people up to their fullest potential. My visit to Mary Centre reinforced this fact in a very real way – small wonders unfolded before my eyes over the course of those two days.

In one case, I met 64-year-old George Bishop. For years, life was a struggle for George. He lived on his own in a dangerous, pest-infested apartment building, working for Goodwill services to try to make ends meet. He lived in isolation and relied on a local food bank for his meals. After a heart attack and a bone-fracturing fall, he wasn’t able to get out for work or for his meals.

George Bishop and Tamara Despard
By the time he met Tamara Despard, a community support worker with Mary Centre, three years ago, he was undernourished, facing eviction, and had no place to turn. Mary Centre advocated for George, arranged funding support to keep him off the street, and Tamara visited him frequently to help him get back on his feet. With her help, George transitioned into a nearby nursing home eight months ago, where he is safe, well-fed and well cared for. He receives visitors – Tamara continues to drop by – and enjoys social events at the residence. (He really enjoys the birthday parties.)

The staff at Mary Centre are convinced George’s life would have been in great jeopardy if he had been evicted – he likely would have died anonymously in squalor. Today, he receives care and support, sharing the small joys of life with people around him on a daily basis.

I also met other Mary Centre clients with different stories that were equally compelling. All of them have benefited from the hard work of the people at Mary Centre – and from ShareLife funding.

Thanks for your support – it really does work wonders!

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Final Push! - Greeting the last 50 days

ShareLife staff and representatives have been moving forward under full-throttle for the past several weeks, driving ahead as the July 31 campaign conclusion looms.

The third diocese-wide collection was held on May 30, with volunteers speaking to parishioners, committees promoting the good work of our agencies, and priests encouraging the participation of the Catholic community in this important annual appeal. To date, the parish campaign has raised just over $9.6 million of its $12 million goal - we're thankful to all who have contributed so far.

On the corporate campaign front, a couple of key events have been conducted in the past few days:
The 15th annual ShareLife Corporate Golf Tournament took place at Lionhead Golf & Country Club on June 7, with 152 participants playing over the links in the signature fundraising event of the campaign. We're grateful for the support of so many loyal and generous supporters of this event. This year, we were treated to a keynote presentation from Olympic hockey gold medallist Becky Kellar, who inspired the room during the tournament dinner.

Becky Kellar with Guy Ouellette, who won an auction to have a personalized autograph on a replica jersey.
On June 10, an intimate evening cocktail party was hosted at the private residence of one of our generous supporters in Woodbridge. With the goal of raising funds and awareness about the ShareLife corporate campaign in the local business community, the evening was a success by all accounts.
The ongoing support of the business community is an important element  of ShareLife's success, reinforcing the presence of Catholic charity in all aspects of life - parish life and work life.
And school life, too!

On that note, we heard about a fantastic success story this week in York Region. The school community at St. Elizabeth Secondary School presented ShareLife with a cheque for $10,000 - the proceeds of a carnival the school hosted as a ShareLife fundraising event. Congratulations to everyone at St. Elizabeth and thank you very much for your hard work and your generous support.

As you can tell, the campaign remains active on all fronts. With less than 50 days left in the campaign year, we have much still to accomplish in order to reach our ultimate goal. The result, however, will be the ongoing care of the weak, vulnerable and needy in the Archdiocese of Toronto and around the world.

Thanks again to everyone who has provided their support thus far. And for anyone who hasn't yet made a gift to ShareLife this year...there's no better time than the present.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Get in the Swing! - Golf, Agency Awareness and a Gold Medallist

Once a year, more than 150 corporate and community leaders gather together for the Annual ShareLife Corporate Golf Tournament, the signature event of the year for the corporate campaign.

Corporate executives, small and medium-sized business people, and a handful of clergy will hit the links at Lionhead Golf & Country Club on June 7 this year in support of ShareLife and the network of agencies we support. For the past few years, the event has raised more than $90,000 after expenses for the cause - nearly the entire allocation for a few of our agencies. The golf tournament also raises increased awareness of the social issues addressed by ShareLife funding. While the golfers attend for a round of golf and an enjoyable day, it's important that they understand the impact their support of ShareLife has in the community.

This year, we'll be joined by Becky Kellar, veteran member of the Canadian Women's Olympic gold medal-winning hockey team. Becky will be speaking about her Olympic experience during the evening reception. As well, four ShareLife agencies will be represented at the dinner, giving donors a chance to connect with some of the people on the front lines of our service provision.

On course, golfers will have a chance to match their drives against ShareLife Executive Director Arthur Peters or yours truly (depending which of the courses they're playing). Those who beat us receive tickets for a raffle at the end of the day - in my case, I'm sure I'll be surrendering tickets all day long!

Check out the details and join us if you can!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The $1,000 you spent last year but likely didn't know about

When we receive contributions for ShareLife, we're really receiving them on behalf of the network of Catholic agencies ShareLife supports. We do our best to constantly raise awareness around the issues ShareLife agencies face, and the critical services they provide to the community.

We recently completed the first of what will be many information pieces about those issues; this one focusses on addictions. The problem is serious and significant in Canadian society. Last year, every Canadian spent more than $1,000 dealing with a substance abuse problem!

Some other facts that we came across while researching the piece included that fact that:
  • 13.6% of Canadians are high risk drinkers
  • about 10% of Canadians are dependent on alcohol at some time in their lives
  • 37% of people who abuse alcohol and 53% who abuse drugs also have a mental illness
  • 30% of people diagnosed with a mental illness also have a substance abuse problem
  • 75% of homeless people with mental illness also have a substance abuse problem
  • in the year prior to being homeless, 20% of clients received addiction services
  • The Canadian economy loses $18.6 billion/year due to substance abuse in the workplace

ShareLife agencies are part of the solution for many people struggling with addictions in the Greater Toronto Area. Should you, or someone you know need a hand with an addiction, these ShareLife agencies can help:

Catholic Community Services of York Region – partnership in York Region Addiction Services
(905) 770-7040/(800) 263-2075

Catholic Family Services of Peel-Dufferin – individual assistance
(905) 450-1608/(905) 897-1644

Catholic Family Services of Simcoe County – Choices for Change
(705) 726-2503/(800) 725-2503

Catholic Family Services of Toronto – individual assistance
(416) 921-1163

Good Shepherd Centre – DARE (Drug and Alcohol Recovery Enrichment) program
(416) 869-3619

Mater Dei/Carmelina’s House – two-year in-residence counselling and care
(416) 242-4207

Matt Talbot Houses – St. Michael’s Homes
(416) 926-8267

Friday, May 14, 2010

Students raise awareness around poverty, homelessness

Students from Cardinal Ambrozic Catholic Secondary School in Brampton took to the outdoors Thursday night (May 6) in an effort to raise awareness around the issues of poverty and homelessness.

Nearly 50 students spent the night sleeping in tents and cardboard boxes in the school field, gaining a slight sense of what it might be like to be homeless. The event included a spartan meal of soup, bread, and water, discussion around the issues of poverty and homelessness in the community and a candlelight prayer vigil. Prior to the event, students took charitable pledges for their efforts and contributed the proceeds to ShareLife.

ShareLife Executive Director Arthur Peters had a chance to be with the students and teachers that evening, sharing stories about our agencies and needs of the Brampton community.

Congratulations and thanks to Chaplaincy Leader Angelo Minardi, the staff and students who participated in the event. This was the first time the school has conducted an event like this. Who knows, it may catch on - this could be the start of a new Cardinal Ambrozic tradition!

Check out images from the event on the school website.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Fraudulent fundraising

Unfortunately, we received a report this week that two young people have been canvassing door-to-door in the Orangeville area, telling residents they are high school students and are collecting funds on behalf of ShareLife.

This is not true. Working with our school board partners, ShareLife encourages a number of creative, educational and fun ways for school communities to raise funds for the good work of ShareLife agencies -- door-to-door canvassing is not part of any ShareLife school fundraising efforts.

It's troubling to us that anyone would misrepresent ShareLife in the community - even more so, that they were allegedly doing so in order to take money from people.

If you or someone you know comes across any suspicious ShareLife fundraising, please contact our office. If you feel a crime has been committed, you are also encouraged to contact your local police services.