ShareLife ready for tough year

By 
  • October 17, 2008
{mosimage}TORONTO - When times get tough, the tough get going. That isn’t the theme for this year’s ShareLife corporate campaign, but it could well be.

ShareLife launched its annual campaign to raise funds from the Catholic business community in Toronto Oct. 9 as headlines in newspapers around the world continued to trumpet the gloomy news about economic crisis, bank bailouts and plummeting stock prices.
“Let’s face it, we’re facing a tougher situation this year,” said Colleen Johnston, the chief financial officer for TD Bank Financial Group and chair of the corporate campaign for the third year in a row.

“We only have to look at the daily news.”

But the world’s economic problems only mean that those who are served by the agencies funded by the campaign will need more help than ever, she said.

“We are going to have to redouble our efforts.”

In an interview, Johnston said it is too early to say whether Catholic corporate Toronto will be more tightfisted than in other years as they struggle with the impact of global economic turmoil. Early indications from the “patrons” — individuals who give at least $2,500 to the campaign — were hopeful, she said.

The campaign goal is $1.625 million (same as last year) and canvassers will be visiting Toronto business people and those corporations run by Catholics to raise that money. ShareLife, the fund-raising arm of the archdiocese of Toronto, gives it to Catholic Charities, which distributes the funds to 29 different agencies.

Among them are Catholic Family Services of Peel-Dufferin. Mark Creedon, executive director of the agency, said his organization provides various forms of counselling to couples, abused individuals and others who are overcome by life’s challenges and suffering from depression and other problems. In recent years, government funding has failed to keep up with the rapid growth in his region and its resulting social problems.

“I know how much harder it’s going to be to get every dollar,” he acknowledged in remarks to the group of corporate canvassers gathered at the Catholic Pastoral Centre. “Thank you for all your efforts.”

Peel Region’s population of 1.35 million is 17-per-cent higher than it was five years ago. Half belong to visible minorities and 20 per cent of children live below the poverty line, Creedon reported. The waiting list for affordable housing is the worst in Ontario and can reach as long as 20 years. Last year, police there received 7,528 reports of domestic violence.

Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins also thanked the canvassers for their efforts.

“The work of ShareLife is really at the heart of the Gospel,” he said. “The love of God and the love of neighbour are joined together.”

The corporate campaign is just a part of ShareLife’s fund-raising efforts. Overall, last year’s campaign raised $14,020,209 from the following areas:
  • Parish, $11,763,375;

  • Corporate, $1,553,460;

  • Employee workplace contributions, $347,392;

  • Schools, $243,952;

  • Miscellaneous, $112,030 (includes institutions and in-memoriam donations).

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