We all win when a child succeeds in school, when neighborhoods are safe, when families have food security, and when people can obtain meaningful employment. Yesterday at the Victoria Inn and Convention Centre, donors and volunteers gathered to celebrate their achievements in the United Way of Thunder Bay’s 2017 fundraising campaign. Together, $2,342,000 was raised to support local programs and services which work to move people from poverty to possibility, build a strong community, and help children and youth be all that they can be.
Although this is a truly remarkable total, and contributors should be proud of their efforts, Executive Director Jered Zieroth noted that it will be a challenging year for the organization’s Board of Directors, who will have some difficult decisions ahead of them, and that programs and services will be affected. In December of 2017, the Chronicle-Journal reported that charitable giving across Canada has hit a 10-year low according to the Fraser Institute. With living expenses increasing it would appear that charitable donations are dropping; whereas the need for the services they support is increasing and community building organizations like the United Way are strained to find ways to do more with less.
United Way’s 2017 Campaign Co-Chairs Kelly and Mike Gallagher stressed the appreciation held for the thousands of individuals, corporations, and Leaders of the Way who stepped up by making a donation, attending the events, and volunteering for the United Way. “Together we are making Thunder Bay united, vibrant and strong.” said Mike. “Thank you to everyone who took part in the 2017 United Way Campaign. Your contributions will help so many people in our community.”
Throughout the 2017 campaign, the message of “Your Donation Looks Like Me” was shared along with stories of impact made because of the generous gifts United Way receives. Two more were shared with Celebration guests; one of a young man, new to the city and facing family struggles, who found a place of belonging and support and is now on his way to becoming the first person in his family to obtain his high-school graduation and pursue a college degree; another of a man who was struggling with depression and thoughts of suicide as a result of job loss after a workplace injury. Thankfully, he attended the Walk-In Counselling Clinic as a last resort, where he learned coping skills that he used to deal with his symptoms of depression. Today, he feels optimistic about his future and sees the value of his life again. These are just two examples of the immense impact donors are making through their United Way contributions.