The Centre D’acceuil Heritage provides companionship and assistance to the French-speaking elderly in Toronto. Photo courtesy of ShareLife)

ShareLife cracks $14 million in fundraising

By 
  • September 6, 2017

Whether you are nine or 90 years old, everyone needs a best friend.

That sentiment is shared by ShareLife, the annual charitable appeal of the Archdiocese of Toronto which recently released the results of its 2017 campaign.

ShareLife raised $14.415 million this year, with a portion of those funds benefitting two new recipients: The Society of Sharing and The Friendly Visitor program, two charities that provide social interaction and support for seniors.

Although ShareLife fell short of its overall goal of $14.925 million, it surpassed the $13.339 million raised in 2016, due largely to a record-setting parish appeal, said ShareLife executive director Arthur Peters.

To cover an $800,000 shortfall between the campaign goal and money actually raised, ShareLife will draw money from its asset pool to ensure no charity goes without.

“These is so much need in our agencies,” said Peters, “We decided to allocate more money to help them help the people they serve.”

Donations from parishes — the primary source of ShareLife funds — and the corporate sector increased this year. The parish total grew from $12.06 million to a record $12.69 million, while corporate donations increased about $62,000 to $899,449. Combined contributions from payroll deductions, schools and community fundraising increased about 10 per cent compared to 2016.

According to the Statistics Canada, 16.9 per cent of Canada’s population is over age 65. The figure is expected in increase drastically over the next decade, making social resource programs for seniors less of an option and more of a necessity. The Friendly Visitor program received $175,000 worth of funding from ShareLife this year.

The organization is mainly voluntary, but does employ several full-time staff members. Friendly Visitor provides seniors at-risk of social isolation with a volunteer “friend” to socialize and spend time with.

The program takes place out of six parishes across the archdiocese: Holy Family in Bolton, St. Christopher’s in Mississauga, St. Patrick’s in Brampton, Guardian Angels in Orillia, St. John Vianney in Barrie and Holy Martyrs of Japan in Bradford.

The Society of Sharing operates with a similar concept, providing physically disabled adults and seniors with a “buddy” to assist them in day-to-day tasks like running errands and getting to doctors appointments. The “buddy” also gives out their telephone number to provide additional support if needed.

ShareLife continues to donate funds to its other various organizations, such as Catholic Family Services, which provides fast service walk-in clinics for counselling. Peters says these clinics reduce the need for long-term counselling because individuals are seen sooner.

“At a regular walk-in clinic, you might wait longer for a grief or mental health counselling appointment,” said Peters.

ShareLife, which began in 1976, supports more than 40 Catholic agencies in more than 20 languages. Programs and services cover the full range of the population, including youth with developmental challenges, seniors, young mothers, seminarians and victims of domestic violence.

“We are very grateful for the generosity of the parishioners of the Archdiocese of Toronto as well as the Catholic community,” said Peters.

“They have shown once again how committed they are to agencies who serve the marginalized in our communities. We are hopeful that as we move forward with future campaigns, they will continue to be as generous and continue to be inspired by the noble work of our agencies.”

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