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Halifax Heroes: Local couple helps fundraise millions for charities

Howard and Karen Conter have spent years focusing on Kids Help Phone, PTSD support services and more.

From left to right, Halifax Heroes Karen and Howard Conter.

Spencer Osberg/For Metro

From left to right, Halifax Heroes Karen and Howard Conter.

It is a hard reality for charities and nonprofit groups that the good they are able to do is very much limited to the amount of resources they have available.

That’s where people like Howard and Karen Conter come in.

In Halifax “you find a lot of like-minded people who feel they have done well and they want to give back,” said Howard, “So my job is a facilitator to allow them to give back.”

And facilitate they have; over many years, as part of organizations as wide-ranging as the Tema Conter Memorial Trust, a support service for first responders suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, to the United Israel Appeal, the couple estimates they have helped raise in the range of $10 million for various causes.

“We’ve been at it a while,” smiled Karen.

Among the couple’s main focuses is the Kids Help Phone, the 24-hour support hotline for children and young people.

“I’m a family doctor, so to see mental illness all the time in my office, and to see all the concerns that kids have,” said Howard. “It’s a tremendous charity for what it does, setting up these councillors, and having professionals available there for kids.”

Much of the motivation comes from realizing how lucky they have been themselves.

“We have been so fortunate to have two happy, healthy kids that have grown up and done well,” said Karen. “In thanks for that, we want to give back to kids.”

This has meant everything from burning up the phone lines calling businesses and individuals to solicit donations for the QEII Health Sciences Center Foundation and the Children’s Wish Foundation, to helping to organize the Ruth Goldbloom Annual Ladies Golf Classic – an event named after Howard’s late cousin that brings in some $100,000 every year for Kids Help Phone.

Part of the challenge, said Howard, is that there are so many worthwhile charities looking for resources, but there is a limit to the number of donors able to sign large cheques to help them out.

“If you go to any of the big businesses in town and you ask how many charitable asks they get, they will tell you they get 15 to 20 per week, if not more – they can’t obviously contribute to all of them,” he said, then joked: “You need annoying people like me to remind them to contribute.”

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