Concordia unites to fight against poverty 

How has Concordia adapted this year’s Centraide campaign to the pandemic and inflation?

Centraide is currently running their annual fundraising campaign at Concordia. In the midst of inflation and the aftermath of the pandemic, they had to re-think their goals.

Centraide gathers funds and supports 350 community agencies working on diminishing poverty in Montreal. According to their website, 615 thousand people in Montreal live in poverty. Their focus is supporting the youth, helping people buy essentials, and building community bonds. 

Nadia Bhuiyan is a co-chair of the Centraide campaign this year. She is also the vice-provost of Partnerships and Experiential Learning at Concordia, as well as a professor of mechanical, industrial and aerospace engineering. 

Bhuiyan’s role entails planning events and activities to raise awareness and funds. She also works on campaigns to solicit donors and gather testimonials encouraging people to donate. 

While her work as campaign co-chair is different from her work as a professor, Bhuiyan’s “desire to help others, especially those who are less fortunate, has been a guiding force [her] entire life.” 

“Much of my focus is on how to help youth overcome challenges and find their own meaning of success,” she said, “so this area particularly drives me.”

This year, the Centraide campaign aimed to raise 205 thousand dollars — only five thousand more than last year — owing to inflation. 

“We didn’t raise it too high this year, knowing that everyone is experiencing a higher cost of life,” said Bhuiyan.

Maud Doualan, the senior director for the annual campaign at Centraide, oversees campaigns all over Montreal. 

“This year, the campaign is very important,” Doualan said. “Inflation is really hitting hard on people who were already struggling. And what the agencies are telling us is that they’re seeing people that they never used to see before.” 

“The main focus of this year’s campaign is to increase participation. “We’re really trying to reach out to people who give zero dollars. Those are the people we’re trying to target, to say: ‘You know what, if you want to be involved in your community and you want to make a difference, Centraide is a good place to start.’”

The agencies supported by Centraide also dealt with an increase in costs and a big staff turnover. 

“There’s a lot of expertise that is lost,” said Doualan. Centraide has always worked closely with the agencies they support, even more so during the pandemic.  “We’re also trying to be super agile with our funding, to make sure that we can adjust where we’re investing and make sure that we can support [the agencies].” 

Students are also encouraged to participate through volunteering programs. 

“Every donation makes a difference, so if they want to contribute something, I think that’s great as well,” said Doualan.

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