The season of giving starts a little earlier for Centraide. The aid organization is hoping, with the help of generous Montrealers, to be able to give a little more than last year.
Every year Centraide, the French chapter of United Way, kicks off a variety of fundraising campaigns in Montreal starting in the fall to help raise money for those in need. Last week, the organization started its annual campaign by setting a mission for itself: to raise $55.3 million by Dec. 15 and surpass last year’s total by a full million.
The success of this mission, according to MichÃ¨le Thibodeau-DeGuire, president and executive director of Centraide of Greater Montreal, begins with the people in this city.
“If you add a few thousand more people giving, that would make a big difference,” she said, adding that companies have also expressed support for the new mission. “Corporations have told us that gifts would be a bit higher.”
Thidobeau-DeGuire clearly believes their new goal is attainable, partly because the reputation of the organization is spreading and people are seeing the positive effects of the programs they fund.
Centraide develops programs around the city for people of all ages and ethnicities, which in the past has included programs to assist young people living in poverty as well as projects targeting new immigrants and the elderly. Thibodeau-DeGuire explained that people are more willing to donate money, because they realize that their is a need for these types of projects in the city.
“It is an incredible opportunity to invest in specific projects that have a lot of capacity to change things,” she said.
One of the new programs Centraide is starting is called Pathways to Success, a Verdun-based program which encourages students to stay in school. Thibodeau-DeGuire said the results in a sister program in Toronto have been incredible. The numbers of students continuing their education and going to college in lower income families increased from 20 per cent to 80 per cent.
Concordia is actually the first university to have a student body organize campaign drives for Centraide and sit on their board of directors, which Thibodeau-DeGuire called a new and exciting approach in raising awareness of the issues in the city in younger people. She said that Concordia is the force behind Montreal, because it has students that come from all over the world and walks of life and it fascinates her how involved Concordia students are in the Montreal community.
“Concordia is the example of what Montreal can become,” Thibodeau-DeGuire said.