Show Your Local Love – United Way

Sisters, Brothers and Comrades,

Last week marked the kickoff of this year’s United Way Employee Campaign at General Motors. During this time, employees are invited to pledge donations through payroll deductions. Last year our employees raised an astounding $224,837 through payroll deductions alone. Along with a $70,000 corporate donation, and money raised through $500 Draws and the Show n’ Shine Car Show, GM St. Catharines donated a total of $334,288 to United Way. And for more than 60 years we have been the number one contributor to United Way Niagara, donating over $31.1 million! This just goes to show how important our continued involvement with the community is. All funds raised in Niagara stay in Niagara.

United Way’s mission statement, “To improve lives and build community by engaging individuals and mobilizing collective action,” goes hand in hand with what Unifor stands for. As a union, we fight for what is right and fair and that extends beyond the workplace. Our constitution states that we should aim to provide support to those in need, to build our union’s presence in the community and encourage our members to be involved in all aspects of community life.
Issues like poverty, homelessness and mental health are hurting our communities. Those local issues can be easy to ignore or go unnoticed if you don’t know they exist. The aim is to make those things #unignorable by showing local love. The three main funding areas that United Way Niagara focuses on are Poverty, Children and Youth, and Vulnerable Adults.

This year, Cheryl Coburn and I are the hourly campaign reps. During our training we learned more about what United Way Niagara does specifically in those three areas and were able to visit a couple of the organizations that fall under the United Way umbrella. Our first stop was the YWCA Women’s shelter in Niagara Falls. This was an eye-opening experience for us as we were able to take a tour and see the facility that many women and their children call home when they have nowhere else to turn. In 2018, 3,985 women who experienced domestic abuse were supported in Niagara as a result of the local love shown by donors. As the Women’s Advocate at GM, I see the importance of services like the YWCA and other shelters.

The second place that we visited was Bethlehem Housing and Support Services. They provide affordable housing and support services to individuals and families in Niagara. We learned more about what they do at their multiple locations. In Niagara, on average 625 people, including children, are homeless on any given night.

Canadian Mental Health Association Niagara is another agency that is funded in part by United Way. I have seen the increase in need for mental health resources that are affordable and accessible. CMHA provides a 24-hour crisis hotline, free walk-in counselling in multiple cities across the region as well as crisis outreach and support for individuals facing difficult times. Every 8 days someone dies by suicide in Niagara.
I invite you to consider donating to United Way Niagara through payroll deductions. Once set up, you don’t have to do anything and the donations are tax deductible!

Some examples of what your local love can do

  • $1/week can provide a family with all the kitchen and bathroom supplies they need to set up a new home.
  • $2.50/week can provide crisis counselling for ten people in need.
  • $5/week can send ten kids back to school with a full backpack.
  • $10/week can provide emergency shelter and food for a family.

A gift of any amount can change lives of the most vulnerable people in our community. You can make local issues #UNIGNORABLE

Next week is our last week of the campaign. Look for us in the Clockhouses Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Remember that by maintaining, increasing or starting a new donation you will not only be showing your local love, but you will also have a chance to win over 35 prizes! Some of prizes include:

  • Samsung Tablet
  • Google Home Mini
  • Niagara Helicopter Tickets
  • Unifor Jacket Voucher
  • Dealership packages including oil changes and car detailing
  • Choko gift package
  • Niagara River Lions Tickets
  • Niagara Ice Dogs Package
  • Safari Niagara Packages
  • Big Mac for a Year
  • Garden City Essentials Skin Care Package
  • Car Wash Vouchers
  • LNR DESIGN Stone Bracelets
  • Restaurant Gift Cards
  • And many more!

Below is a link for all the different agencies and their programs with a description of what each does. It is broken up into the three focus areas: Strong Communities, Poverty to Possibility and All That Kids Can Be. Take a look for a quick view of the reach that the United Way has.