January 16, 2012
RAMON GONZALEZ
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Edmonton – Catholic Social Services has once again run a successful Sign of Hope Campaign, raising $2.66 million. That's four per cent more than its goal of $2.55 million

"It was a very successful campaign; we are very pleased with how it went," said campaign chair Gerry Hood.

However, Hood had a scare near the end of the campaign when he realized it was more than $250,000 short.

"We were a bit worried," he said Jan. 9. "By Dec. 23 we were still $300,000 short; so that last week (of December) we made a lot of phone calls. Without that extra effort, we could have easily fallen short."

This is the 28th consecutive year that the campaign has surpassed its goal. About 450 volunteers helped in the fundraising effort.

The extra dollars raised this year will allow Catholic Social Services to expand Valeda House, a program that provides transitional group care for six hard-to-house women and children struggling with a multitude of issues, including poverty, alienation, addiction and the effects of domestic violence.

SANCTUARY

"These women and children will benefit by receiving safe, conveniently located and affordable housing," Hood said. "They will also have ready access to social, psychological, medical and basic living skills services."

CSS provides professional services to more than 60,000 people of all faith and cultures through more than 130 community-based programs, including services to abused children, to persons addicted to alcohol and drugs and to individuals with physical and mental disabilities.

All CSS programs receive some financial support from Sign of Hope but some rely more heavily on the campaign for their funding. Those include LaSalle, a second-stage shelter for women and children fleeing domestic violence, Safe House and Safe Passages for sexually exploited street youth and Kairos program for persons living with HIV/AIDS.

"We are very grateful to our donors who – not unlike those we serve – represent all faiths and cultures," said Christopher Leung, CEO of Catholic Social Services.

"Their loyal support speaks to the confidence in the work we do and has been vital to our ability to fulfill our mission."

Hood said chairing the campaign was fun.

"It didn't feel like work. I'm just so pleased with the work that our volunteers and donors did.

"They recognized the importance of the campaign and the importance of the money that they give and they just come through year after year."