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.

Poverty-What can you do?

This is a growing region but what good is all this growth and advancement if we leave people behind in the process? In Waterloo Region, 1 out of 10 people live in poverty.

Poverty has power over people’s lives.

It causes isolation, food insecurity, poor health (both physical and mental), and ultimately it denies us wellbeing.

The power of poverty affects families, seniors, children and youth, people with disabilities, and individuals.

And the issue of poverty has a lot of myths around it.  The Region of Waterloo has an excellent document dispelling some of those, you can read it right here

Poverty does not discriminate.

Sometimes poverty is circumstantial – a spouse becomes seriously ill and can no longer work, a family falls apart, or you lose your job because of downsizing.

Sometimes it is more systemic – vulnerable youth don’t graduate from high school and lack the tools needed to be successful adults, seniors living at home are isolated.

Your community needs your help to take that power away—to change the power of poverty. To change the lives of families, children, and individuals in your community.

No one person or one organization can change the power of poverty alone. It’s about building up the community so that people of all ages have the building blocks they need to succeed. We need to work together to make this change. None of it can happen without your support.

United Way is looking to raise 7 million dollars for this fight. And we need your help.

Change the Power of Poverty: Kickoff 2017

“This is unacceptable”

United Way CEO Joan Fisk challenges the community.

September 22, 2017 (Waterloo Region)

The first campaign by United Way Waterloo Region Communities is underway with a simple message from new CEO Joan Fisk.

“We need to change the power of poverty” says Fisk.

“In an area known for its collaboration and innovation” she adds “why are almost 50 thousand people living in low income situations?”

Poverty can destroy families, limit futures, and tear at our social fabric.

“It is holding back far too many people from participating in the full wealth of this community” says Fisk, “and it needs to be our first priority”

United Way Waterloo Region Communities is in a unique position to be the agent of change.   Through our seats at many tables, and our collaboration with a vast range of partners we are ensuring people have the building blocks they need to succeed.

In order to achieve this goal, United Way is looking to gather 7 million dollars to support people in every corner of the region.

“It’s time to step up” says Fisk “We need to rise to our biggest challenge. It’s time to love where you live and work together to change the power of poverty”

Big Brother, Big Sister Month: How We Help

United Way Waterloo Region Communities partners with Big Brothers, Big Sisters to provide experiences to children and youth which help them on their way to adulthood.  Supporting youth allows them to build self esteem, and social skills which enhance their learning. 

Meet Bradley!

Making a difference in the community begins with a thought, and that thought becomes something that can make a BIG impact.

Such was the story of Bradley’s dedication to the community. From the very beginning, Bradley wanted to actively serve and devote his time and energy to others.

Bradley was raised in Toronto, Ontario, and he eventually moved to Kitchener in the year 2008, where he worked as a firefighter for over a decade. However, Bradley wasn’t the only member in his family who lived to serve the community; his cousin was a previous volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Waterloo Region, serving as a Big Sister within the program (BBBSWR).

Bradley was inspired; he immediately held interest in following in his cousin’s footsteps! Soon, he was volunteering for Big Bunch, a recreation based group mentoring program.

He found joy, friendship, solidarity, and opportunity to make a difference throughout his volunteering.

“There’s so much camaraderie  among all the mentors…”, he explained, “It’s a great way to get to know people and meet other people in the area.”

Like many others, Bradley wanted to put his free time to good use, and he felt that being a Mentor within Big Brothers Big Sisters was the best way to do so. Mentoring can bring so much value and meaning in everyone’s lives; those who are the mentors, and those who are being mentored. It is a method for guiding, supporting, and befriending people at any given moment.

“It’s nice to see them eventually become comfortable in a group setting,”, he recalled fondly, “…at the beginning they might be shy, but, by the end of the session that same kid will be telling you which radio station to turn the radio to.”

Nothing could be said more about the joys of having someone open up to you, while you also open up to them, in return.

When asked what he enjoyed most about being a mentor for children, he said:

“It really reminds you of growing up. It’s a great excuse to act like a kid again.”

Aside from giving back to the community, many new volunteers can gain a fresh, new set of skills! These skills can range from: problem-solving, organizational skills, leadership skills, analytical skills, and working as a team.

Bradley’s advice for those interested in volunteering is that even if you don’t know what to expect, you shouldn’t let that hold you back! Give it a shot and explore your options. The commitment varies from program-to-program, so you’re sure to find something that fits into your schedule.

“It may seem intimidating but once you get there you just kind of figure it out. Brad, the program coordinator, is a ton of help, he emails us before each session and gives us the schedule. He responds to emails quickly and you can ask him anything. You get so many materials; the whole structure is already there for you.”

Bradley’s been a Big Bunch volunteer for over 3 years, he’s currently volunteering in the Tuesday session. You could join Bradley in the Big Bunch program and help make a difference in the lives of local youth. Imagine what they could become because of you.


Race around the Region Rally Location announced!

United Way Waterloo Region Communities is pleased to announce its rally location as we prepare for our kickoff Race around the Region.

The Race is set for September 22nd.    Teams of up to five people will visit several locations in the region, and attempting some fun challenges.

Once those teams have completed their tasks they will join together with other participants as well as United Way staff and supporters for a celebration rally  and barbecue at:

Waterloo Region Police Service Headquarters

200 Maple Grove Road

Cambridge ON

We still have a few openings left for teams.   Register your group of up to five at this link

New Organization. New Website.

Since United Way Waterloo Region Communities was created in April, we have been working towards bringing forward a new face.

Our new website is one of those first steps. We’ve worked tirelessly to transform older pages, and create new ones to give you the information you need. Like everyone else you are looking for value for your money.  You want to know your donation is having a real impact. On this site you will be able to explore exactly how United Way fits that desire.

If you’re not already a supporter, you’ll discover a number of ways you can get involved, and learn more about the work of this organization.  While we focus on three areas: link to three areas of impact, that effort put in has been personified in hundreds of different ways— through a variety of programs, and most importantly through the life experiences of thousands of our friends, neighbours and work colleagues.    

As we move ahead, we will use this space, and others, to tell you the stories of people who have been directly impacted by the generosity of their neighbours through the collaborative work of United Way, and the dozens of agencies supporting social issues here at home.

If there’s anything you would like to see on our website, please contact our team today! 

Together, We are Possibility: Build your Team and our Community.

Today’s workplace is an ever-changing item. Employees can work in one community, live in another, all the while taking part in activities in even more places.

But we all know building a cohesive team around a singular cause is important for any organization, and especially a business that draws support from every part of Waterloo region.

Its every bit as vital for that business to also show its region wide support.

That is one of the great strengths of United Way. We work in every part of the region to help people find opportunities to reach their potential. Sometimes it involves helping people gain access to food and shelter, often the first point of contact for someone needing the network of support provided by United Way.  But this support can also look like counseling for couples struggling with financial or relationship problems, or children needing an after school program to help them overcome the effects of bullying, and build their self-esteem.

Those issues know no borders, and that’s why United Way exists to ensure those services are available to all, no matter where they work, live, or play.

More than 250 businesses run United Way workplace campaigns in our region. Many have been with us for decades. They understand the value a United Way campaign has, not only in helping people, but also in providing a common cause for employees.

A United Way campaign is also about more than just donations. We offer a variety of hands on, interactive activities, which really bring the impact of your generosity home. 

And running a workplace campaign is trouble free, and efficient for any business.  One of our staff will be happy to walk you through the process, and will be there to support you at every step. “More hands make for lighter work” or so the saying goes. For all of us, working together has real impact on people who need just a little help to find firmer ground, and build a stronger life.

Your support can make that a possibility, and give your workplace team a real sense of helping in our community.  We would love to have you as part of our team. For more information visit  (link to workplace giving)  or contact  our team today!

Campaign Kick-Off 2017: Race Around the Region

United Way Waterloo Region Communities is committed to serving the towns, cities and villages across Waterloo Region. As we launch our first campaign under our new banner, we looked for a Kick-Off Event that would cover the entire area.

And that’s how Race Around the Region was created.

On September 22nd, teams from our supporting workplaces will start their day with a challenge to discover some of our best-known landmarks, and learn some important lessons surrounding the work United Way does in every community.

As teams visit each of the seven communities, they’ll face fun challenges before gathering in our final location for a celebration, and one final puzzle!

If you’re interested in being part of this exciting day, the first Campaign Kick- Off for United Way Waterloo Region Communities, contact our Event Team today!