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United Way reaches milestone $2 million goal

United Way Executive Director Judi Gilbert thanked everyone for their efforts in achieving the milestone of their $2 million goal in 2013. -Photo  by Ross Lees

United Way Executive Director Judi Gilbert thanked everyone for their efforts in achieving the milestone of their $2 million goal in 2013. -Photo by Ross Lees

By Ross Lees
United Way of Quinte Executive Director Judi Gilbert led her team through a milestone 2013 campaign that surpassed its goal of $2 million.

She also led her team in shedding tears of joy when the final campaign total was announced late last week in Belleville. United Way supports such County programs as Alternatives for Women, The ROC and Community Living, along with the VON, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Brain Injury Association, Canadian Mental Health, CNIB and more.

Calling it a “phenomenal campaign,” Gilbert emphasized that the campaign’s success became a reality because of  “…all of the people involved – the team, the volunteers, the donors – who worked so hard to achieve this incredible milestone.”

The final total for the 2013 campaign was $2,039,722. Exceeding the $2 million goal was an achievement Ms. Gilbert had her sights set on even as the 2012 campaign ended.

“This is an incredible breakthrough for the United Way of Quinte and an incredible achievement for our donors throughout Hastings and Prince Edward counties,” she said.

Emotions ran high at the closing of the campaign.

Campaign Chairman Dave Brown’s voice broke as he thanked all those attending the celebration for their efforts, compassion and generosity. In his address he also mentioned that he had been asked throughout the 2013 campaign when the magnitude of the goal would stop and he replied that it likely never would.

“Simply put, the demand will always outweigh the supply,” he said.

Brown told the audience, “This is not about what I have done, what the campaign committee has done, but rather, what all of you have done to help the people we live and work with have the hope of a better life and I want to thank each and every one of you tonight for taking on that challenge and for being here tonight to share in its success.”

Brown handed over the reigns of the 2014 campaign to Procter and Gamble Plant Manager Martin DeRome.

But Mr. Brown wanted to make sure one other thing was clear about the 2013 campaign.

“Many of you here tonight have played a major role in this campaign as either a volunteer, or as a community leader that understands how important the United Way movement is in helping provide a better life for the many that are less fortunate among us. As your chair this year, a milestone year, it is important to recognize that none of this would be possible without two key factors – our volunteer base and the generosity of this community,” he said. Of all the tremendous volunteers who helped out with the campaign, Tim Bannon was recognized as United Way of Quinte volunteer of the year for 2013, and presented with the Jack Hartling award.

Gilbert said this year’s campaign was tough because some businesses had gone out of business or suffered layoffs and therefore were unable to meet previous goals. In addition to this, individual donations were down because of the economic environment.

“But new workplaces and new donors came onboard and I think that speaks volumes to the volunteers and my team that went out and sought out that new business,” she said. “We’ve been fortunate to have increases for the past three years, but I don’t think we can be lulled into the fact that this is going to happen each and every time.”

Fortunately, some businesses and groups were able to increase their donations this year to help fill that gap, she said, but there were ups and downs over the course of the campaign so that they couldn’t predict how the campaign would end.

However, between Christmas and New Year’s, they finally knew that they had achieved the campaign goal.

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