Islanders ensure United Way reaches its goal

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“Your money stays on P.E.I.” theme helps put agency over top

The United Way of P.E.I. was caught on the horns of a double dilemma this year. After setting an ambitious goal of almost $1 million during its campaign launch last September, by the end of January officials were glumly predicting a $20,000 shortfall.

The problems besetting the United Way were obvious. It was a very tough year for Islanders — with EI changes causing a labour force upheaval and a very harsh winter was draining pocketbooks to pay for electricity, home heating oil and propane. It was a case of hard economic times all around. Naturally it was difficult for Islanders to support the United Way as generously as in the past.

Those harsh times put an even greater demand on the United Way’s resources to fulfil its commitments to the 23 groups it funds. Their programs and services support families, children, youth, seniors and people with disabilities.

Well, guess what? The end of March is next week and Islanders have already ensured the United Way will reach its goal. It’s an amazing accomplishment and everyone who supported the agency should stop and give themselves a big pat on the back.

The United Way knew full well last September it was a daunting task to match the 2012-2013 fundraising campaign goal of $938,500, which actually passed the $1 million mark when the final tally came in. The charitable organization was feeling the pressure.

The organization felt it had no option in late January but to turn to the public again. It stressed its donor option feature, which allows people to direct their funds to any charity of their choice through the United Way.

Islanders were reminded that if they wished to help friends, family or neighbours, they could designate their gifts to Island chapters of national charities which guaranteed all donations stay on P.E.I. Those arguments seemed to carry the day and Islanders responded like they alway do, by digging a little deeper and displaying their generosity. Well done everyone.

A mother’s tearful plea

A personal testament always hammers home a message like no other. You can issue any number of press releases about the need for a program, or the necessity to change a policy, and they may not sway public opinion or lawmakers.

But the heartfelt plea of a mother following the tragic death of a child will make everyone stop, listen and ask how can we make sure something like this doesn’t happen again.

Dianne Young plans to take her protest to Province House once the legislature opens in April. Her 29-year-old son, Lennon Waterman, has been missing since early November when it is believed he jumped off the North River Causeway. The fact that his body hasn’t been recovered has made this tragedy all the worse for Ms.Young.

She is blaming her son’s death on his drug addiction and mental illness. She insists there is an opiate epidemic on P.E.I. and a struggle for many with addictions to prescription pills — all without enough options for treatment.

There was a report filed last fall on the issue of mental health and addictions. Government has appointed a chief addictions officer and has her studying the issue. Ms. Young has her own ideas to help, such as a treatment centre and wiser use of public money.

She is sure to get a sympathetic hearing from government and opposition. All sides must realize the urgency for action, work together for solutions and hopefully no more Lennon Watermans will feel the only option left for them is to end their own life.

Organizations: United Way, Province House

Geographic location: North River Causeway

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