Nova Scotia

United Way of Cape Breton raises record $960K

The United Way of Cape Breton has beaten its previous fundraising record. The money will go towards youth programs.

United Way able to expand youth programs with extra funds, says executive director

United Way executive director, Lynn McCarron (far left), Steve and Katherine van Nostrand and volunteers display the record-breaking total for 2015-2016. (Submitted by United Way of Cape Breton)

United Way of Cape Breton volunteers raised nearly $1 million during the 2015-2016 fundraising campaign, breaking a record set two years ago of $728,000.

The organization announced the results of the campaign — $960,735 — at its annual volunteer appreciation breakfast Friday in Sydney.

Executive director Lynn McCarron attributes the huge increase to the vision of the co-chairs of the campaign, Steve and Katherine van Nostrand.

"They're very community-minded people," she said.

The van Nostrands, owners of an industrial supply company and prominent in Sydney's business community, persuaded fellow merchants to support a large fundraiser in March called the Winter Gala.

Winter Gala boosted results

"When they heard the statistic of 34.2 per cent of Cape Breton children currently living in poverty, they were astounded, and said, 'OK, it's time, we need to be the catalyst to turn the corner on this,'" McCarron said.

"I told them my intention was to reduce that by five per cent in five years, and they said, 'Yep, that's perfect, so we're going to need some money to do that.'"  

Steve and Katherine van Nostrand are co-chairs of the 2015-2016 United Way of Cape Breton fundraising campaign, which raised a record-breaking $960,735. (Submitted by United Way of Cape Breton)

The results of the Winter Gala exceeded all expectations. The $125-a-plate event brought in $240,000.

The money will be earmarked for youth programs, said McCarron.

The United Way will now be able to invite more youth groups to apply for funding. The organization currently supports the Whitney Pier Youth Club and YMCA.

Youth programs expanded

The youth programs are designed to shape a positive future for youth who participate in them, McCarron said.

"They are programs that are focusing on education, financial literacy, skill development, volunteerism. All kinds of things that make them [young people] strong community leaders."

She praised Cape Bretoners for their generosity in making the campaign a record-breaking success.

A significant portion of the total amount achieved is what comes in annually through workplace giving, the payroll deduction program the United Way makes available every year, McCarron said.

"We had some people leading the way, but credit goes to this community. When you tell them what the problem is and how to help, they really step up," she said.