Stephen Carattini

Stephen Carattini

February 3, 2014
GLEN ARGAN
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

In its 30th annual effort to support the work of Catholic Social Services, the Sign of Hope campaign has raised more than $3 million for the first time.

With its goal set at $2.87 million, the Sign of Hope collected $20,000 more than $3 million, enabling it to fund existing and possibly new programs.

“It’s always a pleasant surprise when we surpass our goal,” said campaign chair Carole Anctil-Michalyshyn, who has been volunteering for the Sign of Hope for 14 years.

“It speaks volumes about the generosity of the community and the faith that they have in the work that CSS does,” Anctil-Michalyshyn said in an interview.

She offered her thanks to the staff, 450 volunteers and donors for helping the campaign exceed its target. “It really is a team effort to pull in $3 million of donations.”

The featured CSS ministry in the 2013 campaign was LaSalle Shelter, a second-stage shelter for women and children fleeing domestic violence. LaSalle receives 80 per cent of its $450,000 operating budget from the Sign of Hope.

Women and children can live in the home in downtown Edmonton for up to a year while recovering from violence and learning to live in a home that is violence free. It provides many forms of support to its residents, including workshops on parenting, budgeting, self-esteem and healthy relationships.

Anctil-Michalyshyn said the Sign of Hope grows every year both because of an influx of new donors and increased contributions from long-time donors.

Carole Anctil-Michalyshyn

Carole Anctil-Michalyshyn

“Particularly this year when because of natural disasters in the world, people had a lot of different organizations and causes asking them for donations,” she said. “So, we’re really pleased that new donors and loyal donors continued to give to the Sign of Hope.”

Stephen Carattini, CEO of Catholic Social Services and Catholic Charities, said the Sign of Hope funds are essential to running programs such as those for mothers and children affected by fetal alcohol syndrome disorder, Kairos programs for people with HIV/AIDS, and several others.

While CSS gets roughly 95 per cent of its $75-million budget from provincial and federal governments, more than 20 community programs receive little or no government support.

Without the Sign of Hope campaign, those programs would not exist, said Carattini. The $150,000 by which this year’s campaign surpassed its goal will be used to fund those programs and possibly create new ones.

The CEO said he is moved by the number of people who work on the campaign and the amount of work they do.

The campaign, he said, “is really about creating community, uniting those with the means to give with those who are in need.”

“I am grateful to God for this outpouring of generosity and of support from the community,” Carattini said. “We’re very privileged to be stewards of the financial sacrifices people are willing to make for the needs in our archdiocese.”

Founded in 1961, CSS employs more than 1,500 people and has the support of more than 2,000 volunteers. It served more than 60,000 people throughout central and northeast Alberta in 2013, and it has offices in Edmonton, Bonnyville, Lloydminster, Red Deer, Wainwright and Wetaskiwin.