Poverty is not inevitable

Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is manmade, and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. And overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life-Nelson Mandela

At a time of instant reaction, the mere mention of the word poverty can bring up some divisive discussions.

That’s true of any issue these days.   Witness the conversation around the coming legalization of marijuana, or visit the comments section below any article about the region’s Light Rail Transit project.

We seem to live in a most cynical time, expecting the worst from each other.   Even if that other person might be living a similar life.    Here’s an interesting article on that phenomenon

It doesn’t mean we’re not looking for good in the world.   Maybe even desperately so, if the popularity of Fiona the Hippo is any indication.

And perhaps that’s why, at this time of year, the story of a good Samaritan touches us all.

Mr Mandela’s quote has been analyzed extensively since he spoke in 2005.    But at the very base of it, he encourages us to work together to solve a problem.

It was some 25 years ago, actually, closer to 30 when our federal government pledged to end child poverty in Canada.   By the year 2000.  And here we are.     1 in 10 people in Waterloo Region live below the low income threshold.

Maybe you’re one of those people who believes people who are poor….are “just lazy”    Or perhaps, those on Ontario Works are spending their monthly amounts on items you don’t consider necessities.   We’ve touched on some of those thoughts in a previous blog.

But there is movement.

Ontario is experimenting with a guaranteed minimum income.   The federal government just recently announced a new National Housing Strategy

These will take time.    But today, we can take action to move people out of poverty, to ensure the services they need are available at every step along the way.    You can donate right now


December 6: Remember and Act.

It has been almost 30 years since the horrific attack at Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal, where 14 women were murdered.   Just because they were women.

This article, from Raise the Hammer provides plenty of information on the issues surrounding violence against women.

The Canadian Foundation for Women also has an insightful piece on the number of women in poverty, and why that’s a particularly important segment of the discussion.

United Way Waterloo Region Communities supports dozens of agencies and programs touching almost every part of the region.

Many of them have a straight line connection to women who suffer abuse— places like Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region but many others also have a part to play.  Organizations providing counseling for individuals and families or providing support to children when their home life begins to implode.

It’s all part of what we call a “network of services”.   We know people will often access more than one service…..from a shelter, to a food bank to counseling. United Way exists to ensure that network is in place.

United Way is also there to provide information on the services anyone might need.    Locally, and across the country we fund the 211 …..  Available over the phone–with the 211 code—or online 211 is a directory  which can point you in the right direction no matter what kind of help is required.

On this day of remembrance and mourning, we ask you to take action.   Whether that’s by donating to your local women’s shelter, or any other organization you support, or by volunteering, or by lending a supportive ear, you can truly make a difference.


What you don’t know: United Way in November

You’re forgiven if you think of United Way as an organization you might only hear about during a workplace campaign.

Behind the scenes, there’s a lot going on, and not just in our offices.   Out there–in the real world where people are looking for information, and ways they can make a difference.

Last month,  November of 2017, we facilitated 9 Day of Caring events.  During a Day of Caring, you and your team will go to one of our supported agencies, and donate your time, expertise and energy to helping them out.

These projects can last up to seven hours, and can involve a variety of tasks, from painting, to yard work.   And along the way you’ll learn about the valuable work being done right here at home, supported by United Way Waterloo Region Communities.

Those Days of Caring last month added up to 270 volunteer hours with participants from three different workplaces.     Our volunteers provided food sorting and meal prep, painting and packaging to the Cambridge Self Help Food Bank, Nutrition for Learning, Kinbridge, and Community Support Connections Meals on Wheels.

We also hosted a Seeing is Believing tour with our partners from BMO.  Almost a dozen people visited three agencies —   oneROOF, Carizon, and House of Friendship.  There. they learned about the function of each of those organizations, and how their connection to United Way Waterloo Region Communities is helping to change the power of poverty.    You can learn more about Seeing is Believing opportunities from our website.

Education is a key part of the work we do in the seven communities which make up Waterloo Region.   United Way WRC is one of the partners, along with many other United Way agencies in Canada, in a program called Make the Month.  Here’s a link to some media coverage of this program.

Make the Month invites groups of people to meet with a representative of United Way to go through a poverty simulation–recreating the difficult choices faced by people living below the low-income threshold. (That’s 1 out of 10 people in Waterloo Region)

In November we ran the local version of the Make the Month simulator for four groups, providing an eye opening, and at times heart wrenching experience for almost 100 people.   You can contact our Community Engagement  team if you’re interested in learning more.

While the year is drawing quickly to a close, we are continuing to work with both our agency partners, as well as our supporters to provide more information about the work of United Way.

Thank you for checking us out….  Give where you Live.