United Way KFL&A hosted its’ first kickoff breakfast in over two years and announced a 2022 funding goal of $3,808,000.
The event was hosted at St. Lawrence College with over 250 community volunteers on hand along with United Way staff, and was simulcast on zoom.
The campaign will last for 12 weeks, wrapping on November 24.
The fundraising goals for United Way continue to climb year after year along with the rising cost of living and relatively stagnated wages in most sectors, and the goal is up from the $3,614,800 bar set in 2021.
2022 Campaign Chair Jane Lapointe says that number continuing to grow is directly aligned with the consistently increasing need seen in Kingston and throughout the country.
“As a community, we are seeing more people who need food and secure housing, and who are often facing mental health and addictions challenges. And we are all feeling pressure as the cost of living increases,” said Lapointe.
“As the pandemic continues, we need to act at a local level to support individuals who are vulnerable. They need our support now more than ever − every donation makes an impact.”
Lapointe said United Way works to address the immediate needs of the community with funding and supplies as identified, but also wants to attack the root causes of the seemingly ever-widening wage gap.
She hopes as time goes on, enough can improve so that the funding goal can actually decrease.
“The other part is really trying to get at what the root causes are,” Lapointe said.
“I mean I would love to see a day where the campaign goal is actually a smaller number because we’ve been able to get at some of these root causes. We’re just not there yet, we still need the community to help us.”
United Way also announced the renewal of two Leadership Challenge Grants at the breakfast kickoff.
Any donor who gives at the Leadership level by giving $1,200 or more as a first time donation will have their contribution matched by an anonymous Kingston couple, and the Women United Challenge Grant, donated by Jessica Bayne Hogan was renewed and encourages women to donate at the leadership level, becoming part of “Women United.”
Funds raised will support a variety of United Way campaigns, including the Good Food Box campaign, which were expanded to further target both students and seniors in need during the pandemic.
United Way KFL&A President and CEO Bhavana Varma said while food security was already well known as an issue prior to COVID-19, the need became even more glaring over the last two years.
“Food security is something that really came to our attention during the pandemic,” Varma said.
“We’ve always known… but it really came to a point where there were a lot of people going hungry.”
United Way’s 2021 campaign resulted in $3,803,000 raised, and as of Friday afternoon the 2022 campaign had already reached nearly 20% of its goal.