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Street steps up to keep shelter's doors open Add to ...

The Gift: $100,000 in emergency funding

The Cause: Nazareth House

The Reason: Services for women fleeing domestic abuse

A few years ago, Jim Beattie was visiting some friends after Christmas when they started talking about the meaning of the season.

"We were just kind of reflecting on the commerciality of Christmas and how we wanted to make sure our money was put toward a different message," recalls Mr. Beattie, head of institutional trading at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.

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The discussion led to an annual fundraising event called Fight for Independence, where about a dozen bankers, lawyers and traders punch each other out in a boxing ring for charity. Most of the proceeds go to Nazareth House, a Toronto organization founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph that provides shelter and services to women escaping domestic abuse. Mr. Beattie had heard about the agency from a friend who had volunteered at the shelter.

The boxing event, held in September, helps provide a stable source of financing for the shelter. So far, the event has raised more than $700,000 in five years.

A few months ago, the shelter's executive director, Sister June Dwyer, called Mr. Beattie in tears. The recession had dried up other donations and put the shelter in a financial squeeze. Meanwhile, demand for its services was soaring.

"The sisters were faced with the reality that they were very close to closing the doors," Mr. Beattie said. When Sister Dwyer called, "she was very sad because she saw this evaporating in front of her."

Mr. Beattie started making calls around Bay Street. "I said, 'I need help. I need to get $100,000.' "

Within weeks, money started pouring in. Colleagues from CIBC, Toronto-Dominion Bank, Royal Bank and TMX Group started writing cheques and Mr. Beattie reached his goal. "We got them secure funding and they can now get back into their funding cycle in the fall."

Mr. Beattie says he was gratified at the support from his colleagues. But he says the work being done by Nazareth House is the real selling point.

"It's a compelling story and people want to make sure that their money is used to achieve good in their community."

pwaldie@globeandmail.com

 

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