West Island Community Shares raises $1 million
By Kevin Woodhouse
At a press conference held last Friday morning at Pfizer Canada in Kirkland, West Island Community Shares was able to confirm that it had reached its goal of raising one million dollars for the 35 West Island groups and organizations they support, and many of the representatives for the non-profit groups were in attendance.
The head table was comprised of WICS executive Director Caroline Tison, Pfizer president Paul Levesque, WICS co-founder and former Nelligan MNA Russell Williams, Nelligan MNA and Minister of Families Yolande James, Native Affairs Minister and Jacques Cartier MNA Geoffrey Kelley and Robert Baldwin MNA Pierre Marsan.
Other attendees included WICS co-founder Lucie Fournier and Liberal candidates Dr. Bernard Patry and Francis Scarpaleggia whom Tison referred to as “a friend of WICS.”
Tison spoke about the uniqueness of the foundation as “100 percent of the money raised goes back to the community groups.” Administrative costs are covered by WICS’ nine major sponsors that include Pfizer Canada, Avon and Desjardins.
WICS’ began 13 years ago where Williams admitted “the idea came together when Lucie, my wife and I were having a drink in a bar. We thought there needed to be something to pull the community together. It had to be something about the community investing in itself.”
Research provided Williams, Fournier and eventually Pfizer president Alan Bootes with the fact that West Island residents were not cheap, they had donated $25 million to charitable agencies in 1996 but most of the money went out of the province.
Borrowing a model used in Tennessee, the idea was to create a group that would take care of the fundraising aspect of charity work, allowing the grassroots organizations to concentrate on caring for the community at large.
James told the assembled that WICS is “a movement of solidarity for all West Islanders who need help. The reputation is that everyone on the West Island is rich but one in five seek help from the 35 groups.”
“We wouldn’t be here if Russ hadn’t taken that drink at Kelly’s Bar,” quipped Marsan. “It is a pleasure to support a group that defends the interests of West Island residents.”
Kelley noted that MNAs in the National Assembly donate $40,000 for WICS for the groups and “army of volunteers who are out there every day giving back to the community.”
The million-dollar achievement was a 25 percent increase in last year’s fundraising campaign and since 1998, WICS has raised $6.3 million for such groups as AMCAL Family Services, Friends of Mental Health, West Island Citizen Advocacy and Volunteer West Island.