Community Connections with Kathy Murphy – July 2018

Community Connections with Kathy Murphy – July 2018

Hastings & Prince Edward counties
– 60 looks good on you!

By Kathy Murphy, Executive Director United Way Hastings & Prince Edward

It has been an exciting spring as we move into our 60th community campaign.   We’ve seen board members of many years move on, and new community champions join the ranks of Improving Lives Locally.  We’ve had one of our most successful Days of Caring – with over 130 of you coming together to help charities in our area to improve conditions for their members and staff.  We’ve held an event celebrating our workplace ambassadors, and put many plans in place to work with you to develop innovative, collaborative solutions for health and well being of all citizens in Hastings & Prince Edward.

We were pleased to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Belleville General Hospital Foundation, The Children’s Foundation, The Hastings & Prince Edward Learning Foundation and Trenton Memorial Hospital Foundation in being chosen as charities of choice in the first season of the Belleville Senators as we worked the arena selling 50/50 tickets to support the great work of these community partners.

In a highly competitive market, many excellent charities and foundations are vying for the same “piece of the pie” as we all move together towards improving conditions for those who are vulnerable members of our community.  Many still consider this a choice.  We hear, “why can’t these people work?”  People ponder the choice of addictions, “it’s under everyone’s control – right?  And why do people choose to have families if they are unable to care for them, when he/she didn’t bother to continue their education?”  Simple – right?

Some people think Canada is a country where no one should – or could – be left behind.  Just look at the conditions people in developing nations face.  Of course, it’s relative and complex, and as varied as the struggles human beings have been up against since the beginning of time.  But the reality is that sometimes Canadians face tough conditions beyond their control, or are forced to make difficult choices that can change the course of their life. Any Canadian can also face fragile health, economic disruptions, depression, abuse, bullying, loneliness, isolation, and the struggle of dealing with different abilities.

At United Way locations across Canada – like your United Way Hastings & Prince Edward – the struggle to ensure “no one is left behind” is complex and demanding work.  Studies show our area has some of the highest rates in Ontario for youth struggling with mental health challenges. We also see we have too many seniors who are isolated and living in poverty, without access to nutritional food, health services, transportation.  Too many mothers and families are in need of safety and security as they face difficult and, many times, life-threatening situations.  And vulnerable kids, who could and should be “all that they can be” are left behind as teachers continue to be challenged with the complexity of ensuring the health and well being of the students in their care.  Affordable housing … well that’s a complex topic for another day.

Since 1958, United Way has worked with the community to improve lives locally, with committed volunteers, dedicated staff, and excellent community partnerships. Through a grassroots approach, we facilitate your donations and support in moving people from poverty to possibility, helping kids of all ages, and creating stronger communities for all.  Recently a United Way campaign chair from 8 Wing, Tanya Tebbutt, was frustrated hearing about the classmates of her kids who go to school without breakfast or lunch.  This is why she continues to lead the charge at 8-Wing Trenton, United Way’s second largest contributor to the nearly $2-million community campaign.

“Upon moving to Belleville in 2017, I read a report that showed our region was the sixth in Canada for highest rates of urban child poverty at 20.5 per cent,” she said. “Children are complete victims of circumstance and when children live in poverty it unfortunately has a secondary effect on their education. These numbers hit home to me. To hear that my child`s classmates were arriving to school already disadvantaged, to no fault of their own, with no breakfast or lunch made me want to contribute to the success of my community. As soon as I found out that 8-Wing was looking for a new United Way campaign co-chair, I eagerly jumped on board.”

Like Tanya, you can do a lot for your community and we hope you will continue to look out for your neighbours, friends, family, co-workers – or strangers in many cases.  Because this is what we do; it’s our way – the United Way.  We look forward to working with you in this ever-challenging upcoming season of community giving. Your commitment to United Way will make this region a better place to raise your family, run your business, enjoy retirement, and improve a life.

Thank you in advance for your continued help and support – spread the word, be the change, and tell us how we can be of service. We are here for you –  and it’s YOUR United Way.