January 24, 2011
Jeananne Kirwin

Jeananne Kirwin

RAMON GONZALEZ
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

EDMONTON - Catholic Social Services has once again surpassed its Sign of Hope campaign goal, this year raising a record $2,556,626.

That means the Alpha for Women program, which supports women with complex needs, including addictions, will keep its doors open and perhaps expand.

This is the 27th consecutive year that the campaign has surpassed its goal, with the monies used to support Alpha and other programs offered by Catholic Social Services.

"We are absolutely thrilled that our donors were so generous to us," said Jeananne Kirwin, chairperson of the Sign of Hope campaign.

"We don't know why we were so successful compared to some other charities but we would like to think it is because our over 100 programs are answering needs. Ninety-one cents of every dollar we receive goes to client services and that's a very impressive statistic for someone who wants to donate to a good cause; they know their money is a good investment."

ALPHA FOR WOMEN

Begun 15 months ago, the Alpha for Women program operates in an apartment building in the Virginia Park area providing clients with affordable accommodation as well as addictions counselling and therapeutic counselling.

Currently nine women live there. While some are attending school, others are working or looking for jobs. Most of the women in the program have had addiction issues and some also have incarceration in their background.

"We want to expand the program. Right now the program is limited by its physical location," Kirwin said.

"It's up to the Catholic Social Services board to decide what to do (improve, expand or move the program to a different building) but, in any case, funding for the counselling and all of that is in place for another year for sure and that's really terrific."

Marc Barylo, spokesperson for Catholic Social Services, was also impressed by the success of the campaign.

"I think what we found is that people dug a little bit deeper. Some of the businesses aren't hurting as significantly as they were last year. So with their support, we were able to go over the top."

FUNDING IN PLACE

Barylo said the additional money raised through Sign of Hope will go to Alpha for Women "as we promised the public" as well as to programs like the La Salle program for abused women with children and the parent-teen mediation program.