United Way fundraising boosts youth mental health programs

NANAIMO – United Way campaign kicks off annual campaign with breakfast in Woodgrove Centre.

The United Way’s annual kick-off breakfast will be hosted at Woodgrove Centre this year.

The move to Woodgrove saves costs of renting a venue that can be applied to United Way.

“Woodgrove’s been incredibly supportive of us,” said Signey Madden, United Way of Central and Northern Vancouver Island executive director. “They fundraised for many, many months and give thousands of dollars to the United Way and they were willing to donate the venue for us… Really we just wanted to put more money back into the community rather than spend it on a venue.”

The mall’s location also make it more convenient for supporters coming from Parksville and Qualicum.

The campaign, which runs September through December, is the United Way’s biggest annual fundraiser. Last year the organization raised just under $700,000 in the central Island region.

“We’re raising our target this year just a little bit in each of the main areas that we’re fundraising in, so we’re trying to raise over $700,000 this year,” Madden said.

The United Way supports 28 programs that help 16,000 people in the central Island, but this year the focus will be on mental health issues, especially for children and teens.

“Really, mental health is one of the biggest issues that we’re seeing and funding because there seems to be greater stress on families and kids,” Madden said. “There are a lot of mental health issues with children. Mental health issues with children and youth is a big piece that we’re all kind of grappling with and there maybe aren’t enough resources for. We’re partnering with other agencies to go, OK, how can we fund this? How can we make sure people aren’t falling through the cracks?”

The breakfast happens Thursday (Sept. 18) at 7 a.m. at Woodgrove Centre’s food court area, catered by Galloping Gourmet. Bruce Williams, of CTV Vancouver Island will emcee the event. Tickets are $20 each and can be purchased online by visiting the United Way website at www.uwcnvi.ca or calling 250-591-8731.