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.