Kitty Kornered

Posted on November 8, 2014 under Storytelling with one comment

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Photo: Courtesy of Bunny Brosha



The recent Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS garnered a lot of attention. Facebook was inundated for days on end by good-natured people highlighting this worthy cause.   Competition was in the air as individuals and groups tried to outdo each other in their execution of the task.  You must admit it was a novel approach to fundraising, which brings me back to the time when I worked in the non-profit sector.

I started working at the CACL Workshop in 1981 and I quickly discovered that we needed to ramp up our fundraising efforts. I knew nothing about canvassing for donations other than collecting empties to bring to Pete Poirier and arranging hockey pools with the neighbors on Hillcrest Street.

One of the original members of the founding organization was Brian O’Connell. He and a small group of people were responsible for the birth of the Antigonish Activity Centre at the site of the former St. Ninian Street School, the precursor to the C.A.C.L. sheltered workshop on Kirk Street.  Brian had a background in public relations and development so it was natural that I would go to him for advice.  He taught me a great deal about the significance of a strong public relations campaign, but the most important thing that I learned from him was the importance of thanking people.

Our first major fundraising drive was announced with great fanfare. The local newspaper and radio station did a masterful job of presenting the cause to the public.  In addition to an appeal to the business community which we coined the “Special Names Campaign”, there was a door to door operation conducted in the town and throughout the county.

It’s relatively easy to canvass the town, but the rural areas were an entirely different matter. I managed to cajole Tina Landry into having the 4H clubs do the collecting from one end of Antigonish County to the other.

As the campaign was gaining a full head of steam, I received a call from a lovely lady in Heatherton. Her name was Kitty Chisholm and she wondered if I could bring the chair of the Board of Directors to the Heatherton Activity centre for tea.

At the time, I didn’t know much about the Activity Centre in Heatherton. I was about to get a primer.

On the appointed evening I arrived at the Centre along with Russell Alcorn, the president of my Board.  Russell was a real gentleman and a perfect ambassador for the CACL.

I was definitely the greenhorn of the group. Sitting around the table along with Kitty were Theresa MacDonald, Kaye Fraser and Jovita Chisholm.

I proceeded to fill the air with our ambitious plans. They didn’t say much.  Be very wary when people don’t say much.  I explained how the 4H collection was going to work in the county.  When I had said my piece, there was a discernable pause as they collectively took a sip of tea.

Kitty was the spokesperson for the group. It only took her about 2 minutes to tell us how the 4H collection was going to work in Heatherton.  Their 4H club would indeed collect money in that geographical area and every red cent would then be turned over to the Heatherton Activity Centre.

Russell and I looked at each other, feeling a bit like animals that had been trapped. We smiled and agreed that this was a splendid idea.

We made the ten minute drive back to town. We didn’t break our silence until we reached Lower South River.  We started to laugh simultaneously at the thought of how we had been put in our place by some very wise women.

Truly, we had been “Kitty Kornered.”

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