Deans challenge Senate to give to the United Way
A message from the University of Waterloo United Way Campaign.
Originally published in the Daily Bulletin on October 20, 2022.
How do you capture the attention of Senate here at the University of Waterloo? Apparently, you just need to step through the looking glass.
On Monday October 17, our Faculty Deans marched once again through campus dressed as characters from Alice in Wonderland as part of their annual challenge asking their Senate colleagues to step up and donate generously to the United Way Workplace Campaign. In past years, they’ve dressed up as characters from Sesame Street, the Wizard of Oz, as well as Star Trek. And this year’s march included hopping a ride on the Watonobus, our own autonomous shuttle.
Who dressed as who?
- Dean of Arts Sheila Ager – Queen of Hearts;
- Dean of Environment - Bruce Frayne – King of Hearts;
- Dean of Health Lili Liu – Alice;
- Dean of Science Bob Lemieux – The Mad Hatter;
- Dean of Engineering Mary Wells – Tweedle Dee; and
- Dean of Mathematics Mark Giesbrecht – Tweedle Dum.
Entering the Senate boardroom to great applause, the Deans also announced their annual auction to raise money for the United Way. This year’s selection includes many home-made treats, some Alice in Wonderland-inspired gifts, and a 16th century scale Man O’ War. Over 35 items are available for purchase. The auction will end on October 31 – making it a great option for early holiday shopping. If you’re the winning bid, you can pick up your purchase in person from the Deans in STC. Details available online.
A word from Vivek Goel
Our president and vice-chancellor Vivek Goel also had a few words for Senate. He mentioned the great success of our Workplace Campaign – raising nearly $250,000 annually for United Way charities. He thanked our tireless volunteers and ambassadors, and mentioned that everyone at the University of Waterloo can take part in the many events that are hosted campus-wide. President Goel, along with our Deans, have been strong supporters of the United Way – noting that it’s a worthy cause that can only strengthen our amazing community.
There’s still time to donate!
Soup's on for the United Way
A message from the University of Waterloo United Way Campaign.
Originally published in the Daily Bulletin on October 13, 2022.
From noon until 1:30 p.m., celebrity chefs from across campus will be spooning out soup, freshly prepared by Campus Food Services, in the Science Teaching Complex (STC) atrium. A suggested donation of $5 per bowl will be payable by cash or by credit/debit at the event. Alternatively, you can skip the line by reserving your soup in advance by ordering through the online donation portal.
What’s on the menu?
- Loaded baked potato soup
- Mushroom thyme soup
- Coconut carrot soup
Come one and come all (and bring a friend) to this annual event. It’s going to be a 'souper' day.
Want to support this year’s campaign but can’t make Soup Day? Consider giving online instead.
United Way Charity Spotlight: Argus
By Emily Shim. This is the third article in a three-part series on the charities that the United Way supports.
Originally published in the Daily Bulletin on October 6, 2022.
Argus, The Watchful Guardian
Argus, meaning “watchful guardian” in Greek mythology, is an organization that lives up to its name. Executive Director, Eva Vlasov, shares that Argus, a residence for youth and adults achieves this feat by offering three main services: coordinated homelessness prevention, youth employment, and care homes for young victims of domestic violence and neglect.
Homelessness Prevention and Housing Help
Argus provides homelessness prevention and shelter diversion with their 24-7 support line to individuals aged 18 years and older who are seeking emergency shelter in the Waterloo region. The objective is to prevent or end one’s homelessness experience by finding alternative options for emergency shelter, which includes family reunification. Vlasov’s team can help with reunification by making the initial call to family or, in some extremes, by flying people across Canada and around the world. Vlasov shares that, “From January 2021 to September 2022, First Connect received nearly 10,000 calls for service, where 68 per cent of callers had their homelessness experience prevented or ended by finding an alternative to emergency shelter.
Argus supports youth seeking employment through two pathways. The first being a self-sustaining social enterprise called Uptown Thrift, where 100 per cent of sales are used to create employment opportunities for young people in need. Additionally, Argus has been working with the Government of Canada since 2011 to provide employability skills training to young people with self-identified employment barriers, and has seen more than 80 per cent of participants either return to school or secure employment in the community.
Argus operates a care home for young victims of domestic violence and neglect where they are currently in a three-year training implementation and evaluation agreement with Cornell University to implement the “CARE Practice Model.” Care provided is through a principle-based approach which is applied across all of Argus’s services. These six principles are relationship based, family involved, ecologically oriented, competence centered, developmentally focused, and trauma informed. Vlasov shares that working alongside the faculty at Cornell has provided opportunities for better youth outcomes.
Jumping over new hurdles
Like many charitable organizations within our community, Argus faced new challenges from COVID-19. There was a growing demand for shelter beds due to fewer informal supports like friends and family, as many people were less willing to house guests due to concerns with quarantining. Housing options were further reduced as a lot of individuals lost their own homes because of economic issues caused by the pandemic. Many local businesses who had previously supported Argus closed during the pandemic. Argus also experienced what countless charities faced: an unprecedented barrier to fundraising that included cancelling their largest fundraising event which involves auctioning 500-600 items.
United Way Impact
Support from the United Way Community General Operating Support allows Argus to operate its care home by funding staffing costs, clothing, child and youth recreation, and transportation expenses. Without this United Way funding, the young victims relying on these care homes would lose the support and opportunities they desperately need.
To learn more about Argus and the variety of services they offer, visit their website.
Stay tuned for content about our campus United Way Campaign happening in October. To support Argus and other important organizations in our community, donate today
Today, Waterloo Goes Red for United Way
A message from the United Way Campaign.
Originally published in the Daily Bulletin on October 3, 2022.
It’s back: The United Way Workplace Campaign has started today – and campus has turned red for October. Even our iconic Waterloo sign has its traditional red wrapping.
What the campaign is all about
Every year we launch a month-long campaign to raise funds for the United Way Waterloo Region Communities. We encourage all staff and faculty to donate to the United Way Workplace Campaign. You can give a one-time donation, or you can set up an ongoing payroll deduction. Every little bit counts.
Money raised will fund charities across our Region that tens of thousands of our most vulnerable community members rely upon. With fewer donations coming in because of the pandemic, local charities are turning to the United Way more than ever to try to keep pace with the surge in demand for their services. The University of Waterloo has always stepped up to help our community. Let’s make this year the most successful yet.
New this year: Cause Areas
The United Way has organized their charities and funding into 10 targeted campaign areas, or cause areas. The University of Waterloo has decided to incorporate three of these cause areas into our Campaign. They are:
- Advocating for Mental Health
- Increasing Food Security
- Advancing Equity
When you donate money on e-Pledge, the United Way’s donation portal, you’ll be asked if you wish to contribute specific funds to any of these cause areas. It’s a great way to ensure your donations match your values. Or you can keep your donation general and continue to support all of the local charities that the United Way funds.
How to get involved
This year, the United Way Committee has organized amazing events to bring the spirit of community and philanthropy to our campus, and to help us stay red throughout the month of October.
Houseplants 102: Join Bryan Dobson of Gold Leaf Botanicals for a lunch and learn on plant care and get answers to your questions about all things houseplants, as a follow up to last year’s incredible event, on October 13 at 12:00 p.m. Prior attendance is not needed. NOTE: This is a virtual event.
Yoga Class: Join host Sandra Gibson to relax your body and align your mind through a yoga session with Thrive on October 14 at 12:00 p.m. in PAC Studio 1.
Soup Day: We’ve been waiting for an in-person Soup Day for two years and it’s finally here! On October 17 at 11:30 a.m. in the Science Teaching Complex (STC) atrium, we’ll be dishing out some delicious, comforting soup (what’s better on an October Monday?), and you might even see some familiar faces working the ladles and pots. Prepared by UW Catering and Events Services, this event will warm everyone. A $5 donation is suggested.
As always, we encourage everyone to participate in any department-run events organized by our incredible ambassadors. Past events have included bake sales, recipe books, and pet calendars. It’s a great way to connect with your teams and provide much needed donations to a great charity.
United Way Charity Spotlight: Family Counselling Centre of Cambridge and North Dumfries
By Emily Shim. This is the second article in a three-part series on the charities that the United Way supports.
Originally published in the Daily Bulletin on September 29, 2022.
What FCC does
The Family Counselling Centre of Cambridge and North Dumfries (FCC) was founded in 1940 to support families suffering the loss of loved ones due to World War II. A lot has changed since then, but the organization has maintained a steadfast commitment to providing flexible, person-centered services. Today, FCC is a mental health and addictions agency, which aims to provide a safe space where counselling and addictions services support the emotional well-being of the Cambridge and North Dumfries community.
To support mental health, FCC provides counselling with qualified clinicians for those who have experienced Violence Against Women (VAW), Ontario Disability Support Program recipients, and others through different health care referrals. They offer therapy for all ages and run the “Partner Assault Response Program” in Cambridge, working with domestic violence offenders to focus on certain issues such as anger management.
For addiction services, Executive Director, Cameron Dearlove, refers to the process as “community case management,” with a focus on those who are homeless or facing homelessness. Trained clinicians help clients plan their recovery journey, including access to detox programs around Ontario, including transportation to and from these programs. They also run two homes for those who have completed residential treatment because without these homes, many could land back in shelters which are not conducive to recovery. Residents learn valuable life skills through the Harvesting Hope social enterprise which involves making and selling goods like jams, pies, and tarts.
Beyond counselling and addiction services, FCC offers an educational mental health program called, “Taming the Dragon” - an in-school program which educates younger children about anxiety, how they can manage it, and how they can support their peers. They also offer community outreach in Ayr, including a lunch program focusing on seniors.
Challenges they face
Like many charitable organizations, there are many challenges facing FCC. “The demand has been growing - 2020 it started increasing, 2021 it increased more, and it's continuing because the effects of the pandemic are long-term,” explains Dearlove.
The Counselling Collaborative of Waterloo Region, of which FCC is part of, saw a 39 per cent increase in requests for counselling. Among that population, was an alarming 72% increase for youth counselling and a rapidly growing waiting list for mental health and addiction services. While the demand skyrockets, access to these supports becomes increasingly difficult. For example, virtual counselling requires access to technology which not everyone has, children are restricted from tactile therapy, and government funding is not matching the demand. Most employee benefits programs only cover a handful of counselling sessions.
Furthermore, the transition to working from home has resulted in many changes within the organization such as switching to virtual services, training staff on technology, a shift in team dynamics, and limited access to the community. As FCC continues to navigate a post-pandemic world, they are reimagining who they are as an organization, starting with a new name, “Porchlight Counselling and Addiction Services,” launching this October. The name Porchlight was chosen as it renders images of leaving a porchlight on for loved ones, being more representative of their mission.
Ways to get involved
FCC is always looking to expand their board of directors. “Their job is to govern the organization and make sure it's meeting its mission and moving towards our vision,” explains Dearlove. They are seeking people with a diversity of experiences and skillsets, especially those with lived experience.
How United Way Helps
“The United Way is essential for many organizations in the community, particularly smaller organizations that don't have a large fundraising capacity” says Dearlove. It’s disruptive and time-consuming for FCC to start a new project every year to capture project-based funding, and it takes away from the important work they need to do. As a reliable and on-going funder, the United Way ensures that life-changing organizations like FCC have the resources they need to continue helping people on the endlessly growing waitlist.
To learn more about the Family Counselling Centre of Cambridge and North Dumfries (Porchlight Counselling and Addictions Services), and the variety of services they offer, visit their website.
Stay tuned for content about our campus United Way Campaign happening in October. To support the Family Counselling Centre and other important organizations in our community, donate today.
Kicking off the United Way Campaign with a lunch for volunteers and donors
A message from the University of Waterloo United Way Campaign.
Originally published in the Daily Bulletin on September 27, 2022.
As we get ready for the University of Waterloo’s United Way Campaign launch on October 3, we were excited to have some of our key campaign supporters come together on Thursday, September 22 in Fed Hall for the 2022 United Way Kick-Off Lunch. This included our incredible ambassador volunteers from our campus departments, our campaign committee members, and United Way delegates, as well as representatives from the charities the United Way supports.
An impactful message
United Way Campaign co-chairs Alice Raynard and Gordon Savage helped to welcome our volunteers and introduced our first speaker, Amanda Melnik, Senior Director of Impact and Stewardship at the United Way. Amanda is also an alumnus of the University of Waterloo.
“This campaign at Waterloo is one of the largest in Kitchener-Waterloo, raising close to $250,000 every year. It’s a commendable amount, and the impact this has on an individual in need is enormous. This is why we do what we do – for that real person that you’re helping in our community.” Amanda put into perspective what this campaign is all about – making a positive impact on those in our community that rely on the charities that the United Way funds.
“We get it – we’re tired, needs continue to be unprecedented. Thus, it’s important to know where your dollars are going and the impact they have.” The United Way reviews requests for funds every three months. The standard funding requested by charities in those three months is about two million dollars – and the United Way can only fund 30 per cent of that need. Wait lists for services are longer than ever. “But we can do something to help those organizations and reduce those wait times. It’s through this campaign – through your donations. Every dollar matters.”
So, who are we helping?
Wayne Paddick from the Cambridge Shelter offered some insight into how your donations impact his work. “We provide shelter for anyone who needs it. Right now, a big need is for seniors who are on a fixed income but rent continues to rise and they find themselves evicted and unable to find affordable alternatives.” He reminded us that homelessness can happen to anyone – people who are not typically part of the homeless community. “My job is not just to help shelter them, but to get them out of the shelter and back into housing.”
“We also help those who have addictions or mental health challenges. We hire peer workers – people who know the issues and problems faced by our clients because they’ve lived it themselves. Your donations fund such peer workers.”
Our volunteers take the stage
Susan Grant, from Alumni Relations, spoke directly on the experience of being a United Way Campaign ambassador. “I wanted to start by saying thanks to the United Way. We are one community, and we all know why we’re here. Why we volunteer.”
She’s not alone – the dozens of volunteers across campus demonstrate our capacity for giving back to the community during each of our annual campaigns. Their events help to raise thousands of dollars, “and helping that one person in need is worth it.”
However, what did she reveal to be her real motivation behind volunteering? “It’s a reward to meet new people. To see them show off their baking skills. And for me to show off my eating of those baking skills.”
Don’t forget to mark Monday, October 3 in your calendar for the campus-wide campaign launch. Help us turn the campus red by dressing up or decorating your office. Don’t forget to share photos with #UWUnitedWay.
If you want to get involved with the campaign, volunteer to be a United Way Ambassador! And you don’t have to wait until October to donate to the campaign. In the words of Amanda Melnick, every dollar matters.
United Way Charity Spotlight - March of Dimes Canada
By Emily Shim. This is the first article in a three-part series on the charities that the United Way supports.
Originally published in the Daily Bulletin on September 22, 2022.
March of Dimes Canada (MODC) is committed to “championing equity, empowering ability, and creating real change” says Barbara Moore, Regional Manager at the March of Dimes Canada.
Disability can happen to anyone at any time. As a leading national charity committed to helping all forms of disability, MODC stands strong on a foundation of service and the voices of those they serve. Over the last 70 years they have provided a variety of necessary services and programs for their clients, to name a few; Assisted Device Program, Employment Services, Connect & Share program, and the After-Stroke program. These services are widely needed by people living with disabilities, strengthening the individual's capacity for independence, and meeting the needs of those living with low incomes.
The MODC achieves this incredible feat by collaborating with other organizations. “We build relationships with community partners to identify gaps in services,” Moore explains. “For example, we receive a call from someone who has lost their peripheral vision due to stroke.” We would connect with our partners to support this individual, and while they support this family, we continue to provide services, connections to ensure clients and their families participate fully in life and on their terms.
Looking towards a brighter future
The needs of the disabled community are shifting and MODC is working to keep up with this shift.
Looking ahead, March of Dimes Canada is focusing on four areas - children, youth and families, independence at home and in the community, active and connected lives, and financial security. “We’re all about active, healthy, and connected lives, particularly coming out of the pandemic.” Moore continues, “We want to make sure that those living in poverty and those with disabilities are living well and not facing barriers to be able to live life, connect with people, volunteer, or find employment.”
One of the new initiatives, The Changemakers Awards, aims to celebrate extraordinary individuals and organizations in the community, bringing awareness to the importance of MODC and showing appreciation for those who contribute to its ongoing 70-year history of success. There are four types of awards planned for a gala next month - disability change maker, community change maker, corporate change maker, and volunteer change maker. Moore explains, “There are a number of organizations, people with lived experience - that demonstrate exceptional innovation, openness, and collaboration.”
How can we help?
The University of Waterloo’s community can support MODC and the work they do by volunteering and donating to our local programs. Moore shared, “Many of our programs across the nation are supported by volunteers.” University of Waterloo students have supported the Connect and Share program by socializing with clients experiencing feelings of isolation. Moore also shared an example of a University of Waterloo Engineering student who designed and built an apparatus that allowed a client with motor challenges to hold his guitar.
Our campus members can support March of Dimes Canada by donating to the United Way campaign. Supporting this year’s campaign is even more important than years past because, as Moore shared, donor funded organizations such as MODC were greatly impacted by the pandemic. Many of our programs and services rely on the generosity of donors, sponsors, and other partners. Your support makes our work possible and has a direct positive impact on the lives of Waterloo Region residents living with disabilities in a variety of ways.
United Way Waterloo Region Communities is a gracious funder of March of Dimes Canada's Assistive Devices Program. The program serves adults and seniors with physical disabilities and who are in financial need to obtain their desperately needed mobility or home safety equipment to remain safe and functionally independent.
To learn more about the March of Dimes Canada and the variety of programs they offer, visit their website.
To donate to the United Way Campaign, and support MODC and other charities, visit the campaign website.
Smile: it's time for the Tim Hortons Smile Cookie Campaign
A message from the University's United Way campaign committee.
Originally published in the Daily Bulletin on September 19, 2022.
In the mood for a delicious chocolate chip cookie? Smile: it’s Tim Hortons annual Smile Cookie Campaign, happening today and for the rest of the week (until September 25).
Every year Tim Hortons locations across the country raise money for local charities through the Smile Cookie Campaign. What could be better than a sweetly decorated cookie and supporting your local community?
One hundred per cent of the Smile Cookie purchases made at the Student Life Centre (SLC) and Davis Centre (DC) locations will support our United Way Campaign, helping United Way Waterloo Region Communities. Money raised is distributed to various charities across the KW area – such as the Social Development Council, Sexual Assault Support Centre, House of Friendship, Kitchener-Waterloo Counselling Services, and dozens more.
Smile cookies are immensely popular – so expect a few lineups and possibly some temporary shortages – but don’t despair. New cookies are baked daily and will be available all week.
Curious if the Modern Languages (ML), South Campus Hall (SCH), and East Campus 5 (EC5) locations are participating? Yes, they are: Smile Cookie purchases made at those locations will support the Faculty, Staff, and Retiree Giving Program.
As always, if you want to donate to the United Way directly, you can do so easily through our website. Enjoy your smile cookie.
United Way Campaign releases annual report for 2021
A message from the University of Waterloo United Way Campaign.
Originally published in the Daily Bulletin on September 15, 2022.
Our campaign in 2021
This was our second year of “going red” during a pandemic. As with 2020, we needed to keep our community safe so we continued with a virtual approach to our campaign. This meant a little more creativity and ingenuity – but like any other United Way Campaign, we were blown away by the generosity of the University of Waterloo and their ability to come together in a crisis.
The best and brightest moments
As we gear up for the 2022 United Way Campaign, we’d like to share our appreciation for the hard work, support, and enthusiasm from our campus community – committee members, volunteers, and donors – during our 2021 campaign. Whether you attended a virtual event, executed a fundraising activity within your department, or made a donation, every little bit helps. Your support helped to raise over $230,000 for the 2021 campaign. Read the full report online.
- Over 480 individual donors gave to United Way (employees, retirees and students).
- 126 new donors supported the campaign.
- Our Ambassadors executed 10 events, plus the four events organized by the Core Committee.
- University of Waterloo Deans auctioned delicious food and unique items to raise over $1,700.
- We repeated our popular cooking show, making butternut squash polenta.
- New virtual events; House Plants 101 and Yoga Session, with over 170 participants between them.
Impact of your investment
Our campaign efforts contributed to:
- Funding programs to help those in need of counselling and mental health services.
- Supporting programs helping youth enhance their social and educational skills.
- Funding programs connecting local immigrants to their community.
- Supporting programs that help those living in poverty in our community.
2022 campaign is coming soon
As we look ahead to our 2022 campaign in October, we don’t want to forget our “every little bit counts” sentiment. By coming together as a campus community, we can help those who need it most.
Walk this way: the United Way March of 1,000 Umbrellas is back
A message from the University of Waterloo United Way Campaign committee.
United Way Waterloo Region Communities is excited for the return of its annual March of 1,000 Umbrellas – a 3 km walk from Waterloo City Hall in Waterloo to Carl Zehr Square in Kitchener. This march kicks off their fundraising campaign and is an incredible display of community, support, and awareness of the positive impact the United Way has on Waterloo Region.
Join the Waterloo Crew
This year’s march will take place on Thursday, September 15, - and you’re invited We’ll depart campus at 10:45 a.m. to join all participants at Waterloo City Hall. When we arrive at Carl Zehr Square, we’ll enjoy a complimentary lunch from Borealis Grille and Bar and entertainment by Canada’s Got Talent finalist, Stacey Kay. Register to join our Waterloo group and help us fill the route with black and gold! Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why the United Way matters
“The United Way plays a vital role in the support of social services here in Waterloo Region,” says CEO Joan Fisk. “We are second only to government when it comes to funding community programs like family counselling services, after-school programs, and emergency food hampers.”
There is a great need in the community for the variety of organizations the United Way funds, with many people depending upon their programs for support with mental health issues, disabilities, poverty, and unemployment. The march demonstrates that there are people in this community who care deeply about all members of society and want to see the continuation of the good work the United Way does.
Fisk continues, “our community agencies have had to do more with less throughout the pandemic and the need is continuing to grow. We work with nearly 130 agencies, who combined, support almost 60,000 people across Waterloo Region every six months. Sadly, we are only able to address about 40 per cent of the funding requests we receive.
This is why the University of Waterloo United Way Campaign is so important. Fundraising efforts from staff and retirees allow us to help address the issues that our most vulnerable community members are facing; housing and homelessness, increasing food security, and advocating for mental health. This march is a fantastic way for the campus community to show its support.”
Promoting solidarity with the United Way is just one way you can become part of a community-wide movement to improve the lives of those who matter. Join the University of Waterloo’s team by registering for the March of 1,000 Umbrellas on September 15. We hope to see you there.
Volunteer with the University of Waterloo's United Way Campaign
A message from the University of Waterloo United Way Campaign.
Originally published in the Daily Bulletin on August 16, 2022.
Looking for an opportunity to make a difference in your community, enhance your skills, or have something to boast about on your performance evaluation? And maybe have a bit of fun while helping to make your community a stronger, more resilient, and happier place? There’s no better way to do this than through volunteering for the United Way Campaign – a cause that reaches those who need it most and fosters autonomy and dignity.
For those who don’t know, our university hosts a fund-raising campaign every October for the United Way Waterloo Region Communities. The money raised is distributed to various charities across the KW area – such as the Literacy Group, Sexual Assault Support Centre, KW Access-Ability, Kitchener-Waterloo Counselling Services, and dozens more.
Two ways to volunteer
Planning and administering the campaign is the effort of several dedicated Core Committee members who work throughout the year to ensure our workplace campaign connects with our strong campus community to raise donations.
Planning and administering fun department and campus events that raise awareness and money for the United Way is done by Ambassador Volunteers, who work in the month of October during peak campaign time.
We’re looking for creative, resourceful, and enthusiastic people, just like you, to help us make this year’s campaign a massive success. Volunteer to be a Core Committee Member (form) or an Ambassador Volunteer (form). The time you dedicate to the cause is up to you – and it looks great on a resume.
Learn how you can make a difference in your community while building upon key skills in areas like leadership, communications, event planning, and administration. Volunteer today.
A moment of pride
On June 2, 2022, we were honoured to attend the United Way Waterloo Region Community's (UWWRC) Spirit Awards annual gala. Not only did our co-chair Alice Raynard and events committee member Melissa Holst give the cheque from our 2021 campaign to UWWRC CEO Joan Fisk, but we were also nominated for Outstanding Workplace Campaign (large organization)! We've been nominated in this category for a few years in a row and, although we've never been victorious yet (and we emphasize "yet"), it shows our community that the University of Waterloo is dedicated, engaged, and deeply rooted in Waterloo Region, its progress, and achievement.
We want to take another moment to thank all donors and volunteers for helping us with our campaigns. We couldn't achieve this level of success without you - and we hope to continue our nomination streak in the future - or break it with a win!