A Waterloo Region wide volunteer centre brings benefits.

One stop shopping for volunteer opportunities in Waterloo Region

Volunteer Centres in Cambridge and Kitchener-Waterloo combine services.

May 9, 2018 (Waterloo Region)

There’s now just one place to go for residents to find volunteer opportunities and for community organizations to recruit volunteers in Waterloo Region.

After a successful partnership covering three decades, the Volunteer Centre of Cambridge, run by United Way Waterloo Region Communities, and the Volunteer Action Centre of Kitchener-Waterloo have pooled their resources and expertise to better serve both member organizations and volunteers. As part of the transition, the latter organization has rebranded as the Volunteer Action Centre of Waterloo Region and has updated its website and social media handles to reflect its wider reach.

The Volunteer Action Centre believes all parties will benefit from a region-wide system, increasing exposure for both potential volunteers and the organizations in need of their support. The Centre’s online database now houses volunteer opportunities from nearly 200 organizations across Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, Wellesley, Wilmot, Woolwich and North Dumfries.

In addition to its office at 151 Frederick Street, Suite 500 in Kitchener, ON, the Volunteer Action Centre is also excited to offer in-person support for volunteers and members at a new satellite office in Cambridge, ON every Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. This new service will be offered out of the Region of Waterloo’s Employment Resource Centre located at 150 Main Street, Cambridge, ON.

United Way Waterloo Region Communities is proud to invest in volunteerism locally and will continue to provide funding for the Volunteer Action Centre’s work across the Region of Waterloo.



About the Volunteer Action Centre

The Volunteer Action Centre, established in 1984, has a mission to build and develop community capacity for volunteerism. The centre supports nearly 200 community organizations to recruit, retain and recognize volunteers, and provides professional development related to volunteerism. The centre also collaborates with municipalities, businesses and post-secondary institutions to strengthen community engagement.

United Way Waterloo Region Communities is the largest funder of social programs in the region outside of government.  Working in collaboration with our partner agencies we are striving to provide everyone the best opportunity to reach their full potential. Find out more at our website.


Keep in touch with Volunteer Action Centre Waterloo Region

Website:  https://www.volunteerwr.ca/

Twitter:   @volunteerWR

Instagram: @volunteerwr

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/volunteerWR/

About United Way Waterloo Region Communities


Congratulations to the 2018 Spirit Award Winners

2018 United Way Waterloo Region Communities Spirit Award Winners

Rising Star 

The Rising Star Award recognizes a new or returning campaign and/or Employee Campaign Manager that has demonstrated outstanding initiative and immense growth throughout this year’s campaign efforts.

2018 Recipient:   Peak Realty

Peak Realty has become a valued partner in a United Way effort to expand its presence across Waterloo Region. By granting United Way office space in Ayr, Jason Bunker, Marlene Brown, and the entire team at Peak Realty are helping forge numerous close relationships in the Township of North Dumfries.  They have also facilitated important introductions to community members and groups, providing crucial feedback and advice on the issues unique to the region’s rural communities.

Labour Community Partnership

The Labour Community Partnership Award honours a labour partner whose members have shown dedication to their community through exceptional financial and volunteer support, exemplifying the sustained and rewarding relationship between the labour movement and United Way.

2018 Recipient: Elementary Teachers Federation Waterloo Region, and Elementary Teachers Federation Waterloo Region-Occasional Teachers

These two chapters of the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario have been supporters of United Way for many years, cementing the bond between United Way and the labour movement. In addition to their direct contribution, both units sit on a joint committee with the Waterloo Region District School Board, shaping an even bigger campaign. Through their networks they also encourage members to become United Way champions in the schools, helping to create the next generation of philanthropists 

Spirit of Community

The Spirit of the Community Award honours an individual or group that personifies exceptional community spirit, team spirit and spirit of generosity through their significant overall partnership with United Way

2018 Recipient: John Neufeld

John Neufeld knows what it means to be an outsider. John’s family moved to Canada, from Russia in 1981, when he was just seven years old. He says “the playground was not a gentle place”. From that difficult start, John has carved out a legacy of caring, including 11 years working in the foster care system. Today, John is Executive Director of House of Friendship, which serves more than 40 thousand people through more than 15 separate programs. As a long time United Way partner, we are honoured to have John speak on our behalf as frequently as he does, and on the importance of working as a team to ensure everyone has access to the help they need.

Outstanding Workplace Campaign (large workplace)

The Outstanding Workplace Campaign Award recognizes the Employee Campaign manager and workplace that have shown outstanding efforts in informing and engaging employees in a larger workplace.

2018 Recipient: KPMG

 KPMG is an example of a United Way supporter where leadership leads to understanding and on to commitment. In 2017, KPMG experienced 20 per cent growth in its campaign, remarkably retaining 100 per cent of its donors from the previous year, and adding some new partners. KPMG also experienced a 68 per cent increase in employee participation.

Outstanding Workplace Campaign (small to medium workplace) 

The Outstanding Workplace Campaign Award acknowledges the Employee Campaign Manager and workplace that have shown outstanding efforts in informing and engaging employees while increasing donations in a smaller workplace with fewer than 100 employees.

 2018 Recipient: Lackner-McLennan/Erb and Erb Insurance

 In 2016 Lackner McLennan Insurance acquired Erb and Erb Insurance brokers. Together, these two companies have a combined 170 years of service to Waterloo Region. In this past year staff from both operations was moving into a new building and forming a single organization at the same time they ran their United Way Campaign. Despite that challenge they increased their support by 25 per cent!

Outstanding Volunteer Contribution

The Outstanding Volunteer Contribution honours an individual or group for outstanding volunteer service, celebrating the selfless spirit in which volunteerism is offered 

2018 Recipient: Norma McDonald-Ewing

For more than 10 years, Norma McDonald-Ewing has been the volunteer chair of our Community Impact Council. By establishing diligent processes and review, Norma and her team ensure donor dollars make a significant difference in the community. In addition Norma has been a committed champion for United Way in her personal and professional life, making connections and always willing to share her wisdom and guidance.

Outstanding Agency

Outstanding Agency Campaign Award is presented to an agency or workplace that displayed outstanding leadership and dedication during United Way’s annual campaign. 

2018 Recipient: Community Support Connections: Meals on Wheels and More.

The mission of Community Support Connections-Meals on Wheels and More is to “enable people to live at home with independence and dignity”. CSC delivers much more than just meals. Working with more than 500 volunteers, the organization makes a daily difference in the lives of more than one thousand clients. Through a variety of special events, as well as a United Way poverty simulation session, CSC was able to increase its campaign by more than 25 percent.

Community Leader

The Inaugural Community Leader Award recognizes an exemplary public leader who, through extraordinary contributions and outstanding commitment, has driven the spirit of community through personal involvement and initiative.

 2018 Recipient: Ken Seiling

 For more than 40 years, Ken Seiling has served his community. He’s been a teacher, and museum director—a church organist, choirmaster, and a hockey coach!

First elected as a Woolwich Township councillor in 1976, Ken became Mayor two years later and took a seat on Regional Council. His council peers elected him Chairman in 1985, and for the past 20 years he has been elected by the public to the same position. In addition to his duties as Chair, Ken can be seen at hundreds of events touching every corner of Waterloo Region, lending his support to dozens of worthy causes. United Way is proud to count Ken as one of our long-time supporters, and commend him for his work in helping to lead our Region into an era of innovation, while maintaining the community spirit for which our area is so well known.

Introducing the 2018 Spirit Award nominees

United Way Waterloo Region Communities is proud to work with, and through a dedicated list of individuals, organizations, volunteers and agencies. The 2018 Spirit Awards will honour the efforts of all those partners as we move toward our fall campaign.

Nominations revealed for 2018 Spirit Awards

Inspiring examples of Waterloo Region’s community spirit.

The first Spirit Awards presented by the newly integrated United Way Waterloo Region Communities (www.uwaywrc.ca) will be presented on Thursday, April 25th, at 64 Grand Avenue South in Cambridge, in the Gaslight District.

More than 30 individuals and organizations have been nominated for a Spirit Award in eight distinct categories, including the inaugural Community Leader Award. This award will recognize an exemplary leader who, through extraordinary contributions and outstanding commitment, has driven the spirit of community through personal involvement and initiative.

“We are very excited about this year’s Spirit Awards” says CEO Joan Fisk. “It is not only an opportunity to honour our incredible donors and community members, but a chance to introduce our newly integrated organization. We will also be showcasing our new campaign that will help bring our message to the Waterloo Region Communities and pave the way to the launch of our fundraising campaign on September 17th.

United Way Waterloo Region Communities was formed via the integration of United Way organizations in Kitchener-Waterloo and Area and Cambridge-North Dumfries. The new organization now operates from the very center of the region, at Sportsworld Crossing.

The awards highlight small, medium and large businesses which have shown support and innovation for United Way as well as individuals and supported agencies that have gone above and beyond in working together to address the important issues in our society.

Fisk says all the nominees have shown an exemplary dedication to improving their community through United Way and its partner agencies as well as building a culture where philanthropy and caring can thrive.

The Spirit Awards will be handed out on April 25th,  in the Gaslight District of Cambridge at 64 Grand Avenue S.     Tickets are going fast.  You can click here to reserve yours.



2018 Spirit Award Nominees

Rising Star- Honouring an organization which has shown growth in its United Way Campaign


  • Kitchener-Wilmot Hydro
  • Equitable Life of Canada
  • NewGround
  • Peak Realty
  • Local Health Integration Network

Labour Community Partnership-Celebrating an outstanding relationship between labour and United Way


  • United Food and Commercial Workers Local 175/633
  • Waterloo Regional Labour Council
  • Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario Waterloo Region and Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario Waterloo Region Occasional Teachers
  • Waterloo Regional Police Association
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers local 636

Spirit of Community-honouring an individual or United Way committee whose efforts have raised awareness of the work of United Way


  • Pumpkin Queen of Cambridge  , Kara Klypycz
  • Chris Prosser, The Literacy Group
  • John Neufeld, House of Friendship
  • Tracey Elop, Carizon
  • Julie Phillips, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Waterloo Region
  • Clarion Medical Technologies
  • Regional Municipality of Waterloo United Way Committee

Outstanding Workplace Campaign (Large Organization)


  • Sun Life Financial
  • Manulife
  • Royal Bank of Canada
  • Energy+ Inc.
  • Liquor Control Board of Ontario
  • Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada

Outstanding Workplace Campaign (Small to Mid-Size Organization)



  • P&H Milling Group
  • Lackner McLennan Insurance Ltd. and Erb & Erb Insurance Brokers
  • Deluxe Payroll
  • KW Counselling Services
  • Langs 

Outstanding Volunteer Contribution 


  • Michael Schmitt and Deb Zettel-Schmitt
  • Lorraine Worth & Barb Jones
  • Jaye Kuntz
  • Norma McDonald-Ewing
  • Gore Hearts in Action
  • Deb Lindsay

Outstanding Agency


  • The Literacy Group
  • Kinbridge
  • Carizon
  • Cambridge Self-Help Foodbank
  • Community Support Connections Meals on Wheels and More
  • YMCA

Focus on Volunteering: March 2018

Family Volunteering    

Kevin Sharpen and his son Noah are dedicated volunteers at Pinehurst Lake Park. It’s a home-away-from-home for their family. Every summer for over 15 years, their family trailer is parked at the small spring-fed lake north of Paris, Ontario for the season.

His grandparents have camped at Pinehurst every summer. Memories of the popular park fill his lifetime. Kevin has found many ways to give back and encourage others to engage in park stewardship. Once people are interested in volunteering, they are connected to GRCA Volunteer Coordinator, who helps to match interests and talents with volunteer positions.

“Most people who camp at Pinehurst come to know the staff. Kevin is no exception,” observes Pinehurst Superintendent Brad Straus. “But what sets him apart, is he never takes Pinehurst for granted. He and his family have a passion for this place and really appreciate what it offers. Kevin is unique because he doesn’t just think about why the park is special to him. He wants to share it with others. You can tell that his volunteer involvement is just something that feels right to him without even thinking about it.”

His involvement started gradually, as he encouraged Pinehurst staff to set up geocaches within the park, and he and his son did the same to make it a great place for geocaching.

Then, he initiated a new type of geocache for the park.  Instead of using an app or GPS to find a hidden container, Kevin enlisted help from family and friends to hold Cache in Trash Out (CITO) events at the park each spring just before it opened. At a CITO event, garbage is the find instead of a cache. This type of event is held by geocachers at many locations each year so they can improve the geocaching game board —which just happens to be our planet.

“For my son and I, geocaching is our favourite thing to do. We partnered with the staff at Pinehurst Lake to do CITO, a cleanup event for the past three years,” Sharpen explains.

During that time cleanup participants, including campers, the public and geocachers, have collected so much trash each year that it is becoming a little more difficult to find trash. Even the most concealed garbage is disappearing from the park.

This year on Sunday, April 29, the event is expanding to nearby Wrigley and Bannister Lakes which are also owned by the GRCA and managed by the staff at Pinehurst. People who would like to assist this year can find details and register online at www.grandriver.eventbrite.ca.

Kevin and his son have also hosted an introduction to geocaching activity at Discovery Day, an annual park event that welcomed around 2,000 people each year.

“Pinehurst Lake and surrounding trails are for everyone. Our goal is to create a sense of community among all visitors and Kevin shares this goal. Volunteer cleanups can make a big difference,” explains Straus.

“We know the park well, we’ve made friends here and we love the area. For us it’s giving back to the thing we love most,” Kevin says.

If you are part of a group that would like to hold a volunteer event at a GRCA property, learn about our volunteer program at www.grandriver.ca/volunteer.

To experience the benefits of volunteerism, like Kevin, search the online Volunteer Opportunities Database at https://volunteercambridge.cioc.ca/volunteer/  or call the Volunteer Centre at 519-621-1030, ext. 234.

What’s Next? The Needle and the Damage Done.

Just over a week ago, GenNext and United Way Waterloo Region Communities hosted “The Needle and the Damage Done”, an honest and frank discussion of the opioid issue in Waterloo Region and across the country.

You can see some coverage of the event broadcast on CTV.

More than 100 people attended the evening, which featured a half dozen panelists with an incredible array of information and experiences. Following the discussion, audience members were invited to ask their own questions, and many responded.

United Way Waterloo Region Communities is also responding, with the establishment of its Opioid Fund.

CEO Joan Fisk says the fund is the newest part of a changing United Way.  “It’s the first of our “targeted funding” solutions” says Fisk.   As issues change, Fisk says organizations such as United Way need to have the resources to be able to react.

“This fund is being established to invest in programs and services which will enhance and support prevention and education programs for young people”

She says some of those programs may already exist, or the funds could be used to support a new initiative which needs a firm footing.

It’s all part of what she calls a “more agile and responsive” United Way.   Donations to the opioid fund will be invested in the community within a few months.

Fisk says the organization has gone through an integration process over the past year, and emerged with a clear role.  “We are here” she says “to support the work of our partners through fundraising…..and through those programs to support people who need help in our region”

Fisk says other funds could also be created as needs emerge, but the Opioid Fund is the first for people who are looking to make a personal impact on an issue of immediate importance.

You can donate to the fund at this link   Please ensure you type the words OPIOID FUND in the comments box

If you have any questions, we will be happy to answer them at communications@uwaywrc,ca or via telephone at 888-6100




United Way maintains community funding.

“We care, because you care.”

United Way begins work towards reinvigorating our community.

(Waterloo Region) –February 9, 2018

One year after integrating into a region wide United Way, the CEO is pledging a new era of transparency, accountability and co-operation.

Speaking to more than 30 United Way partner agencies earlier this week, Joan Fisk said:

“Our strength, relies on your strength, and we are committed to helping you provide the services people need to escape from poverty in our region”

United Way Waterloo Region Communities set a goal to raise 7 million dollars this fiscal year.  Fisk says the community has already collected more funds this year than last, with more coming in every day. However there remains a significant gap to bridge in order to meet that goal.

In addition, Board Chair Mike Williams is pleased to announce United Way will maintain the current level of funding to the community.

Six months after taking over as CEO, Fisk says United Way is positioning itself toward the future.

United Way remains the largest funder of social service programs outside of government in Canada.

“That reminds us “says Fisk, “of how critical it is to re-introduce ourselves”

In the next few months, she adds, United Way WRC will be rolling out a new and unique message.

“We have a very ambitious goal “says Fisk.   “We plan to raise 10 million dollars in 2019”

This goal will enhance support for the important programs our partners are currently providing, as well as bolstering programs with targeted funds on specific issues.

“Our government does so much” adds Fisk, “but the capacity at all levels is limited”

Board Member Ingrid Pregel puts it this way “At the end of the day, If not United Way, then who?”

GenNext-The Needle and the Damage Done

“I sing the song because I love the man, I know that some of you won’t understand”- Neil Young, The Needle and the Damage Done.

Neil Young’s iconic song was written more than 40 years ago, describing the destruction he saw even among his own friends from heroin addiction.

It resonates today as Waterloo Region deals with the aftermath of opioid use.

In 2017 more than 70 people died from overdoses.   Governments of all levels are working on a response, while people try to understand exactly what is happening.

GenNext Waterloo Region invites you to learn more about the issue at our February 8th event: The Needle and the Damage Done.

We’ll have a diverse and interesting group of panelists on hand to answer your questions including

Christine Padaric, from Moms stop the Harm and Overdose Canada.   We’ll sharing more about the story of this local advocate as we get closer to the date, but you’ll understand a mother who lost her son to a drug overdose has a powerful message.

Also on hand will be Bill Kirby from For a Better Cambridge     Bill is also a member of the City of Cambridge Community Outreach task force.   This grassroots group is working to ensure all voices are heard in the discussion.

Patrick Boot will join us from Overlap Associates    We invited Patrick because of the way his organization helps individuals and groups use empathy to solve big problems.

Violet Umanetz will also take part, representing Sanguen Health Centre    Sanguen has years of experience in dealing with vulnerable populations.

We need you too.  We want to hear your voice, and your questions.

“The Needle and the Damage Done” begins at 5:30 pm in the Communitech space at the Tannery.

You can register by following this link.


Making a Move

In April of 2017 we began the integration of United Way KW and Area and United Way Cambridge North Dumfries in to the new United Way Waterloo Region Communities.

Since that time we have been operating in two separate locations.  Understandably this causes some challenges to create a cohesive team.    Having every one of our staff members in one place, able to access all our resources at the same time is important, and much more efficient.

So, we are moving!

During the week of January 15th, we are packing up our Cambridge office on Thompson Drive, and our Waterloo location on Erb Street in Uptown Waterloo for new digs, at 50 Sportsworld Crossing.  We’ll be smack in the middle of the Region, which is fitting considering our services stretch right across so many communities.

Any move is stressful–it’s difficult enough when we are packing up our own homes.   But moving two offices into a single locations comes with its own particular set of —well—let’s call them opportunities!

While our phones will remain in service for much of next week, there may be some changes.  Calls to many of our staff may be rerouted to the cell phones for a day or so.  In addition, our donation servers may be unavailable for a few days, beginning on Tuesday January 16th.   We do expect them to be fully operational by Monday January 22nd.





Volunteers Power Affordable Housing.

 Each month United Way WRC, along with some of our media partners shines the spotlight on a local volunteer.  There are hundreds of opportunities for you to make a difference.  Our Kristen Feduck tells the story of Bryan Shows.

For many of us, our home is an anchor.   It’s a sanctuary where we can relax and create memories. But for others, that shelter is unstable and a reminder of the difficult path they face every day. There are people working right here to shore up those situations, and help change the power of poverty.

When Bryan Shows retired he was looking for a way to get involved in the community and give back. When he looked up local volunteering opportunities, he couldn’t believe the variety of positions available and the number of local agencies that had a real need for volunteers in order to make their work possible. Bryan chose Habitat for Humanity Waterloo Region and in just under one year, has logged over 250 volunteer hours.  In this time, he has become one of the key volunteers at the Cambridge ReStore, a retail store that accepts donations of used, discontinued items and salvageable building materials donated by manufacturers, contractors and individuals. Whether he is sweeping, building furniture, arranging displays or interacting with customers, Bryan is making a positive impact in the organization and the community as a whole.

Habitat for Humanity brings communities together to help families build strength, stability and independence through affordable home ownership. This mandate is even more important as affordable housing becomes increasingly difficult to find in Waterloo Region. It’s not only those living in poverty who can’t afford to own their own home, but also individuals and couples who work full-time, but just don’t have enough money left over at the month to save for a down payment.

Through the dedication of volunteers like Bryan the organization is able to make this mission a reality. Bryan says the acknowledgement of volunteers gives him a particularly warm feeling. He notes that both staff and management at the Cambridge ReStore thank him after every shift.

Bryan is quick to point out that the organization is not the only one that benefits from the arrangement: “Volunteering offers me the opportunity to put both my time and experience to use, assist where I can in helping newer volunteers get up to speed, gaining new knowledge myself, and finally appreciating that what I do and learn here is making a difference.”



To experience the benefits of volunteerism, like Bryan, search the online Volunteer Opportunities Database at https://volunteercambridge.cioc.ca/volunteer/  or call the Volunteer Centre at 519-621-1030, ext. 234.

Tax Time-Preparation is key

As we move into the first few days of the New Year, it’s time to start thinking about your tax return.   As a registered charity, United Way Waterloo Region Communities provides receipts for donation made during the calendar year.      If you’re among our supporters who make donations through payroll deduction, your T4 Slip should state the amount.   That information should be contained in Box 46 on your slip.


We have already started sending out some receipts to supporters, and will continue that process for the next few weeks.   If you do not receive a receipt for a 2017 donation please contact our office.

This page provides some excellent information to help you understand charitable donations and the tax system.

People can often be confused about what documents they might need to claim a charitable deduction.   Canada Revenue makes that information available on its website.

If you would like to make a donation for next year’s tax return, it’s never too early.  Just follow this link to learn about how you can support United Way, and reduce your tax bill for 2018

As always, individual situations can vary greatly, and we encourage you to discuss your personal concerns with a tax professional.