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The Issue: Community & Social Supports

Having a sense of belonging, that feeling of being connected to others and to a community, is ingrained in each and every one of us. It is one of the essential human needs in order for us to be happy. Relationships are vital to our mental and physical health and wellbeing and to our greater community. A lack of opportunities for connection, whether due to the pandemic, or pre-existing barriers, affects our ability to have a strong support system and can diminish our quality of life. Together, we can help break down these barriers and show people they don’t have to face these challenges alone. Giving means supporting opportunities for people to connect and be supported to reduce isolation and loneliness through programs and services like neighbourhood community development, volunteering, senior supports, removing barriers to access services and participate in community, and recreation opportunities for all ages.

Community & Social Supports

How we help

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Access to services and building strong community and social relationships are critical when fostering a resilient community. A lack of opportunities for connection affects our ability to maintain a strong support system and can diminish our quality of life. United Way Waterloo Region Communities commits to supporting opportunities for people to connect through programs and services that can build or enhance community networks like neighbourhood community development, volunteering, senior supports, and recreation opportunities for all ages. Healthy communities invest in all members in order to succeed.

In 2022, United Way WRC funded:

  1. Neighbourhood Associations and Community Centres creating and maintaining strong neighbourhood relationships (Greenway-Chaplin Community Centre, Kinbridge Community Association, KW Multicultural Centre),
  2. Organizations focused on accessibility (CNIB, Canadian Hearing Services, Brain Injury Association of Waterloo Wellington, KW AccessAbility, Bridges to Belonging)
  3. Either organizations building new social connections or enhancing the work of organizations that are already invested in community resiliency, grassroots community building and informal networks of support (Spectrum, Community Justice Initiatives, Compass Refugee Centre, Crow Shield Lodge, Kind Minds Family Wellness)

Community & social supports

Your Impact

The following are examples of impact of your donations from funded organizations and their programs.

  • Crow Shield Lodge – During this funding term, they started a ‘Community Day’ which is an open time at the lodge and is an invitation to sit in circle together. This invitation went to all agencies (such as Porchlight Counselling Services and House of Friendship) that do outreach/addiction/homelessness support. It is a morning when outreach workers can come out and bring clientele (Indigenous or non-Indigenous) to a safe place on the land to be together. Some mornings have just been the outreach workers which has also been extremely beneficial for their mental health. We will continue this community day as it’s been a very moving, supportive and healing opportunity for both workers and clientele.
  • Kinbridge Neighbourhood Association – 64 Youth are registered with the Youth Newcomer Program and 32 of these youth obtained summer employment.
  • Bridges to Belonging – During the last 6 months of funding, Bridges to Belonging is supported 200 individuals through their programming, creating a community where people of all abilities belong and are connected through meaningful relationships.
  • Community Justice Initiatives – 75 racialized and Indigenous youth participated in the new Roots 2 Rise program, a partnership between Community Justice Initiatives, Healing of the 7 Generations and their partner the African Community Wellness Initiative.
  • “We appreciate the support of our entire organization. This funding provides us with the flexibility to fund the important administrative costs and also to provide the support where it’s needed to most in our programs that are harder to fund.” – Community Justice Initiatives
  • “Without the United Way, we would not have the means to improve the lives of our participants or engage our volunteers. By giving the CNIB the ability to facilitate matches for the Vision Mate program, the United Way helps us create new communities and expand the scope of both our participants and volunteers lives, both their present and future.” – CNIB Foundation

Diane is a 34-year-old woman that applied to the Be-friends program at Bridges to Belonging with the hope that they would find her someone to connect with. Diane can be very shy, making it difficult for her to engage with people on her own. Covid restrictions made it difficult for Diane to pursue potential social new opportunities. Over these past 3 years, Dianne has spent most of her time in her home and became increasingly more isolated, lonely and sad. Diane was matched with a woman named Sherry who applied to be a volunteer community friend. After being matched, Diane and Sherry hit it off and Sherry was very excited to introduce Diane to her daughters and bring Diane to meet her wider circle of friends. Diane wanted to return the favour and invited Sherry to join her on BE- connected to meet the friends she has been connecting with virtually. The reciprocity of a genuine friendship is already beginning between Diane and Sherry with both women sharing their gifts, strengths and social connections to bond with one another, and to bring their respective worlds together. 

Community & social supports

Funded partners

Below are the community partners we were able to fund in 2022 that support Community & Social Supports.