By Adam Brazeau
CORNWALL, Ontario - Paying it forward doesn't cost a thing, but it sure pays off.
The United Way of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry (SDG) hosted a 70th anniversary party at the Bandshell in Lamoureux Park on Sunday, July 6.
"We wanted to do something for the entire community - a free event to say thank you to our donors and volunteers," said Lori Greer, executive director.
Three months into her new position, Greer - who is no rookie to working with non-profits - is fully aware of the long road of fundraising ahead.
In 2013, the local United Way campaigned tirelessly to meet their ambitious $700,001 goal.
In September, staff, the executive board and volunteers will be at it again.
Greer confirmed there will be a new fundraising goal announced.
"We're looking for fresh blood to help with our campaign," said Nolan Quinn, campaign chair. "Donating your time is just as important as your money."
The United Way is exploring every avenue to ensure their fundraising target is met.
"We're starting something new, we're doing phone campaigning from the office," said Quinn. "Last year in the final days of the campaign, when we were short dollars we had great success making phone calls. Almost everyone was a yes."
Quinn added that volunteering with them helps boost the philanthropy section on your resume.
A city woman and her family who moved to Cornwall two years ago had no trouble becoming active community members thanks to some of the 16 agencies and 18 programs funded by the United Way.
Arisbe Castellanos and her children Natalia, 5, and Bruno, 3, visited the park to share their gratitude and enjoy a free Benson BBQ, games and prizes.
And they weren't the only ones.
During the three-hour event, dozens of residents visited the park to give a donation.
Tammy Johnson, of Cornwall, and her two children Kaleb, 7, and Madison, 5, took advantage of a free photo booth and the warm sun shining off the St. Lawrence River.
Johnson was more than glad to make a donation.
"Every bit helps them reach their goal and it helps people in this community," she said. "The fundraising thermometers are a great reminder that they need our support."
Even though the SDG office of United Way is located in Cornwall (405 Fourth Street West), the organization is trying to expand its reach deeper into the United Counties.
The latest addition to the list of charitable agencies funded under the United Way umbrella is in North Dundas, the Glengarry Inter-Agency Group's new after-school program.
"We're trying to make a push out to the counties this year to make sure they know this is their charity. We have been Cornwall-centric for many years," said Quinn. "We really want to get some satellite offices; County Warden Eric Duncan is helping us gather some space. It's really important because SDG has over 100,000 people and a lot of our population does come from outside the city."
Quinn described the event as not just a gesture of goodwill to the community, but also a way to let everyone know the United Way is still here, and will continue to be for hopefully another 70 years and beyond.
"We're about more than asking for money," he said. "We also want to have great events for the children."
For more information, visit unitedwaysdg.com.