United Way Perth-Huron kicks off $1.63-million fundraising campaign

The United Way Perth-Huron officially launched its 2019 fundraising campaign this week, with kickoff events in Stratford, Listowel, Goderich, and St. Marys.

Campaign co-chair Kathryn Ritsma unveiled the United Way Perth-Huron's goal for the 2019 fundraising campaign -- $1,633,566 -- at a campaign launch event in Stratford's Market Square Friday. Galen Simmons/The Beacon Herald/Postmedia Network jpg, SF

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With roughly $200,000 already in the bag, the United Way Perth-Huron officially launched its 2019 fundraising campaign Friday by announcing a goal of more than $1.63 million.

During a harvest lunch launch event in Stratford’s Market Square, United Way Perth-Huron executive director Ryan Erb and campaign co-chairs Kathryn and Martin Ritsma told the crowd that meeting or exceeding this year’s goal would once again give the United Way a chance to support local organizations that address the “#Unignorable” issues facing Perth and Huron County.

“Unignorable. It’s a new word that we’ve invented. … The reason that we’re doing this … is because we want to make sure that the world understands that issues like isolation, homelessness, poverty, violence, those issues that are often hidden in our communities, they should not be ignored,” Erb said. “We need to pull them out in the light. We need to say it’s important for us to help our friends and neighbours. This is someone down the street we’re talking about. The United Way is 100 per cent local in its focus, and when you give to the United Way, that money is helping somebody you probably know.”

The United Way Perth-Huron’s 2019 fundraising campaign launch featured a harvest lunch provided by Sun Life Financial and the Local Community Food Centre, with food donated by Perth County Pork Producers, Perth County Grain Farmers, Egg Farmers of Ontario, Perth County Dairy Producers, the Pulp Fresh Bar, and Milverton L’il Fry Pies. Galen Simmons/The Beacon Herald/Postmedia Network jpg, SF

Last year, the United Way’s local campaign surpassed its $1.45-million goal by $11,500, with more than 300 workplaces across both counties contributing to the effort. This year, the campaign co-chairs said they hope to match or exceed that level of success.

“We’d like to encourage people to give a day for United Way,” Martin Ritsma said. “If you’re not involved in your workplace, please bug people at your workplace and people at the United Way and we’ll set you up with a campaign workplace event.”

Stratford Coun. Kathy Vassilakos was also on hand Friday to celebrate the campaign launch and explain on behalf of the city why funds raised by the United Way are so crucial to improving the quality of life for all Stratford residents.

“All of our staff and council are really supportive of the United Way. We have our workplace campaign, we support the United Way through our budget, and there’s a reason for that. I think everyone knows all of the people in the community the United Way touches, but I think more than that the United Way does something we always ask people to do: If you identify a problem, help us understand that problem and then come to us with a solution as to how we can address that problem collectively,” she said.

“The United Way epitomizes an organization that does all those things very well and always represents our community in the best light … and I know they will actually reach or exceed (this year’s goal) because of our community.”

Along with their launch event in Stratford, staff and volunteers with the United Way Perth-Huron held a campaign kickoff event in Listowel on Thursday, and will be hosting additional events in Goderich on Saturday and St. Marys on Sunday.

To donate to or volunteer with this year’s campaign, call 519-271-7730 or 1-877-818-8867, or visit perthhuron.unitedway.ca.

gsimmons@postmedia.com

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