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GenNext Year End Celebration

Join us for our final GenNext event of the year where we will celebrate you and all you’ve done with us this past year.

You will have the chance to meet folks from across the Region that have been helping to change the power of poverty.There is a limited number of $10 tickets available; get yours before they are sold out! Register now.

National Philanthropy Day November 15

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, philanthropy is defined as “good will to fellow members of the human race; especially :active effort to promote human welfare”

But these days, most of us probably tie the word to a monetary donation. And there might even be a significant number of people who use the word only to describe those people at the very highest level of giving.

But that’s not what it’s all about

 

Five years ago, Canada became the first country to permanently recognize November 15th as National Philanthropy Day.

It’s mean to encourage giving at all levels, and not only on a monetary basis.  Giving of your time, skills and energy has a great deal of value to every non-profit organization, and your passion will likely inspire others!    Don’t be shy…..spreading the word about your good work is always a great idea.

As we head toward the holiday season, you’ll hear a lot more about giving, and about the many needs which our communities have.    While you’re considering who to support, here’s some good information on how to make your donations work to your own benefit.

Sadly, of course, there are too many people who will take advantage of your kindness through charity scams.     It’s a concern or us as well, because it appears more and more people translate their concern about fraud, into a smaller level of giving to legitimate organization

Here are a few things to think about as you consider donating

  1.  Charity scams are often quite common after large scale disasters.  The aftermath of the Fort McMurray wildfires offer some examples     It’s easy to get swept up in the emotion.  Make sure you do your homework   Canada Revenue offers a convenient search tool to find out if a charity is registered
  2. Both door to door, and online scams are common.   And they can often come with a significant amount of pressure.   If you’re feeling that, walk away.   You’re making an investment in what you hope to be a good cause.   And you need to feel comfortable.
  3. Legitimate charitable organizations will always be willing to share their information for you.   Transparency is important.   For example on our website, you’ll find names and information of all the people who oversee what we do in the community.

 

We’d love to have you support National Philanthropy Day.

 

Let’s make a new forever. Applications now open.

We’re looking for some great new ideas.    The United Way Forever Fund is open for applications.

Grants are generated by an  endowment fund, and used to support programs and initiatives right here in Waterloo Region.

We’re focusing on investments which “change the power of poverty” in very specific ways.

Grants are available in two areas.

  • 1) Mental health supports for families and children
  • 2) Innovative ideas for seniors at risk

Here are some examples of past grant recipients.

In 2016 Supportive Housing of Waterloo received a grant for it’s Community Hoarding Maintenance program.   While many of us might be aware of hoarding from some TV productions, it’s a serious concern.  And poses some difficulties for the elderly, and their caregivers.

And we think you probably didn’t know Supportive Housing of Waterloo was involved in the issue.

In 2015, Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region received support for its “Partnering with a new Lens” project.    You can read all about that program right here

They are just two examples of the work going on with many of our United Way WRC Partners.   As we say, many of these problems are complex, and require the work of several agencies to make a real difference.

Applying for a Forever Fund Grant is a simple process.

Tell our staff  about your ideas or initiative at grants@uwaywrc.ca

Once we have had a look, and run that through our filters, we’ll be in contact with additional criteria, and a link to our online application portal.

Applications are due by Friday December 8th.

If you have any questions contact us at the email above!

 

One-on-One. It can all start with you

As far as I know, each of us is given one life to live. How we choose to write our life story is entirely up to us. Have you thought about what legacy you want to leave behind? Or what kind of impact you would like to have on the people that cross your path on this journey? Some might think that in this ocean of humanity, what impact can one person make? Let me tell you a story that a staff member at a downtown youth drop-in center told me a few years ago.

One evening a young man came in right after the center opened. It was unusual for that young man. When the counselor asked him why he was so early that night, he shrugged his shoulders and mumbled something to the effect that he just did not want to miss any of his friends. The staff member asked if it was alright to sit with him while he waited. The teen did not seem to care, so he sat down with him. Conversation was all one-sided. The teen didn’t really want to engage at all. After 20 minutes or so, the teen was starting to open up when the topic of his favorite sport – hockey, came up. As the conversation continued, the counselor found out that the teen had just ran away from home after a huge fight with his mother and that was not the first time. He was disgusted with life and felt the need to get away from it all. The counselor spent the next two hours with this boy and showed him the love and kindness that a caring adult could provide. At the end of that long chat, the young man agreed to go back home and try some of the advice that the counselor had given him to improve the relationship with his mother. The counselor never saw that young men again until a few years later when they ran into each other at the mall. The young man was doing great, graduated from high school, got a job and was now living on his own. Then he said he had a confession to make. He told the counselor the reason he was there that evening at the drop-in center, was to say goodbye to his friends. He had made up his mind that he was going to take his life that evening. But that conversation with the counselor touched his heart and changed his mind. He found there was at least one person that cared about his well-being.

How amazing is that! Not all of us will become the prime minister or have some significant invention that saves the world. But all of us have the ability to make a positive impact in someone’s life. Whether it is a kind word spoken or a random act of kindness or delivering a much-needed food basket. No matter how small you think it might be, you may never know how big an impact you have just made on the other person’s life if you make the effort.

Do you feel like you want to do something but just don’t know where to start? United Way is just the place for you. Thousands of volunteers across this country of ours do whatever they are able to help make their communities a better place for their fellow citizens, one good deed at a time. This is the power of United Way! When a group of like-minded individuals, working together, are driven by an unquenchable passion and a compelling vision, they can start a movement. When the movement gathers momentum, we start a revolution! Here at United Way, we are starting a revolution! Together, we will change the power of poverty! Come join us in this revolution and make a difference in your community.

The Giving Season: Generosity

November and December are a time of year when many of us feel more generous.   Figures indicate almost 40 per cent of charitable donations are made during these eight weeks—which means labeling this time period “The Giving Season” is completely justified.

A year ago, the Generosity Index shed some light on the giving habits of people, although it only measures the number of people claiming a tax receipt for their donation through Canada Revenue.    Those numbers continue to drop.

Not surprisingly many of the non profit organizations which see an upsurge in donations at this time of year are speaking directly to our hearts.   Making sure every child has a warm coat, or every family has something for their holiday season is a concern most of us share.

On November 28, organizations across the country will be taking part in Giving Tuesday    Following Black Friday, and Cyber Monday, it’s an opportunity for everyone to step back, and consider how an investment in non profit work can also be an important part of the holiday season.

While it’s a national movement, Giving Tuesday has a very local aspect to it as well.

Dozens of local agencies will be signed on looking for your support.   And as much as donations are always important, giving of yourself, and your time has a value as well.    Many organizations will welcome your skills—-even if you’re not sure what they are!   And that experience will likely be quite valuable for you.

This year, United Way Waterloo Region Communities is focused on changing the power of poverty…to put it simply, we’re working for the financial stability, health and education of every person in our community.

Please check out the Giving Tuesday information, and if you can, please donate.

Carving For a Cause

Kara Klypycz is all about the pumpkins.

Well, not all…..she’s also devoted to helping out United Way.    Kara has been busy the last couple of weeks carving 150 pumpkins for her annual Halloween display.  It’s a family affair as her husband and two kids ready their home  on Dellgrove Circle in Cambridge for the lineup of people who will take a few minutes to look over her work.  Kara describes herself as a “Halloween Enthusiast” and she’s also a United Way Waterloo Region Communities supporter.    Donations collected on the site of her massive display go directly to United Way.   She’s particularly happy with focus to “Change the Power of Poverty

“There’s no reason for children to be suffering in a community such as this” says Kara, who also works as a substitute teacher.

Her pumpkin carving begins, not surprisingly well ahead of Halloween, but the work actually starts considerably sooner.   This year, she’s opted for a more traditional, perhaps “ghoulish” theme, mixed in with some Wizard of Oz reminders.

“It was my son who suggested that change” she says.  Last years display carried and “Under the Sea” theme.

Kara’s efforts have garnered a significant amount of media attention….   The Cambridge Times   published a story today, and CBC KW had Kara on Thursday morning to carve a couple of pumpkins live on air, while streaming the video.

Next week she’s also scheduled to appear on CTV Kitchener’s 5 pm news!

We really can’t thank Kara and her family enough for their efforts.   It’s only through the dedication of people like her United Way can gather the funds it needs to make real change in the community.  Poverty is far too big an issue for one organization.  That’s why United Way works with a variety of partners to build a network of support which ensures people can access the help they need…..when they need it.

You can donate to Kara’s cause online or better yet, come out to Dellgrove Circle on Tuesday evening.  We’ll be live streaming from the site, and also available to answer your questions.

 

 

Crunch Time for a National Housing Strategy

The Federal Government is expected to release its first National Housing Strategy in the next few weeks.

United Way Centraide Canada has been a strong supporter of the National Housing Collaborative, which is working toward housing affordability as well as increasing housing supply, and the protection of social housing.

United Way is already preparing for the release of the National Housing Strategy, advocating for the creation of a National Housing Benefit, to be used to address the gap between rent—and household budgets.  A United Way policy paper on such a benefit can be read right here

Housing is a key part of the poverty puzzle.   Stable shelter provides a base from which people gain security, and can move on toward tackling other issues.   United Way provides a network support for people who are living in a low income situation—exacerbated by the rising cost of finding somewhere to live.

As we move toward the release of this government strategy, it’s important to understand the issue, and some of the history it has in Canada

As we all know, there is no magic potion to solve the social problems our neighbours, friends and colleagues face.   And we know, by working together we can make progress toward the goal of changing the power of poverty.      Advocating for real steps forward on these issues is an important part of the work United Way does, both locally, and on a nationwide basis.   Across Canada, United Way is involved in more than 5 thousand communities, investing half a billion dollars toward finding those solutions.

 

One Day. One Goal

October 17th is the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.   It’s a day which goes back three decades, from the original proclamation in Paris, France

On the 17th of October 1987, defenders of human and civil rights from every continent gathered on this plaza. They paid homage to the victims of hunger, ignorance and violence. They affirmed their conviction that human misery is not inevitable. They pledged their solidarity with all people who, throughout the world, strive to eradicate extreme poverty. “Wherever men and women are condemned to live in extreme poverty, human rights are violated. To come together to ensure that these rights be respected is our solemn duty.” Father Joseph Wresinski

“Human misery is not inevitable”

Those words should echo with us as we look around our own region.   1 in 10 people in Waterloo Region live in poverty.    The issue is in our  cities  ,towns,villages and rural areas

Last month United Way Waterloo Region Communities began its discussion on how to “change the power of poverty”

That power manifests itself in many ways.   Families go hungry, individuals face incredible barriers to success, and children are left behind.

To some degree, poverty can be invisible in the region.   While we might notice the person on the street looking for help, the vast majority of those struggling are out of our line of sight.    There are 50 thousand people in Waterloo Region walking against the power of poverty.

And it may not be as far away personally as you think.   A recent survey from the Canadian Payroll Association found 50 per cent of us are living paycheck to paycheck.    Many are just a serious illness, accident, or layoff away from having to choose which bill gets paid.

Some say it will cost too much to eradicate poverty. But research indicates there are significant long term savings

Your donations to United Way help provide the building blocks people need to take a step forward.   Perhaps those donations will provide an after school program for a child who needs a boost in self esteem to improve their educational standing.   Maybe it supplies a single mother with the tools she needs to improve her skills, and move into a better career.

No matter how that donation goes to work, you’ll know it’s taking away some of the power of poverty.

This issue is far too complex for one organization.  United Way is uniquely positioned as an agent of change working with a variety of partners, and sitting in on numerous tables to bring a collaborative approach.     With the concerted effort of donors, partners, agencies and volunteers we can make a difference.

Across Canada, United Way has a prescence in more than 5 thousand communities, investing more than a half billion dollars in providing people with the help they need.

We need your help.   To learn more about the work of United Way follow this link

 

 

 

Mental Health and Poverty

Today, October 10th, is World Mental Health Day. The focus this year is on mental health in the workplace

United Way Waterloo Region Communities partners with the Canadian Mental Health Association Waterloo Wellington as part of the network of support which ensures people have the building blocks necessary to stabilize and improve their lives   As well we work alongside other partners who are on the front lines of providing service including KW Counselling    Carizon and many more.   Given the pervasive nature of mental health issues, its not surprising to learn many of our supported agencies are dealing with this topic on a daily basis.

So, what’s the connection between poverty, and mental health?  This article might answer many of your questions.

The discussion over mental health has changed in the past few years.   There are more efforts to take away the stigma and search for solutions.  An article earlier this year in The Globe and Mail provides some food for thought.

We know there is no single solution for many of society’s ills.  We understand today’s problems are complex and require a co-ordinated, collaborative approach to making a difference.   That’s the unique placement of United Way.   We are working across many different partners, and sitting at a variety of tables in search of advantages and efficiencies which will ultimately help people in need.

This year we are campaigning to raise 7 million dollars to invest in services aimed at taking away the “power of poverty”   With your help, those investments  will play a part in giving people the support they require.

Please help.

 

A Community comes together: Change the Power of Poverty

Thanks to the Waterloo Record Community Partnership program, and a generous sponsorship from Manulife, we have been able to post a full page message about
“Changing the Power of Poverty” You can see the full size ad here

Poverty does have a tremendous power over a large number of people in our region.   1 in 10 people here are living in poverty.    Poverty has significant real costs to our system, from health care, counseling and policing issues to the very real danger of limiting the opportunities of individuals, children and families to lead a sustainable life.

Poverty touches so much of what happens in our communities.   And as a community, we will not make a difference unless we are all prepared to commit our resources to the issue.

That’s why United Way is working to raise 7 million dollars over the next year to co-ordinate with our partners and agencies on initiatives designed to reduce that power.    We certainly can’t do it alone.   Along with our Campaign Cabinet, and Board members we have hundreds of volunteers who work every to amplify our message, and work to change the power of poverty.

But we need a concerted effort from everyone to make that happen.  Please donate to United Way, and let’s change the power of poverty.   You can make a difference.