Improving Lives Locally
The numbers have changed, the mandate has evolved, but the root of the community organization’s work – to Improve Lives Locally – has remained the same.
In 1958, the beloved Belleville McFarland’s senior hockey team won the Allan Cup Canadian championship, Terry Fox was born, and the hula-hoop craze hit Canada. Here at home, a group of concerned citizens, business leaders and community champions incorporated the first United Communities Services of Belleville and Area.
United Community Services of Belleville, now known today as United Way Hastings & Prince Edward, ran its first community campaign in 1958 with a goal of raising approximately $63,000. That’s value of about $550,000 today. Today, the local United Way is well known for its annual fall fundraising campaign, which now has a goal of close to $2 million.
At the beginning, a modest 12 agencies were supported. This has grown significantly in recent years, to support 75 programs and 37 agencies who deliver services which reflect our three pillars: All That Kids Can Be, Moving People from Poverty to Possibility, and Building Healthy, Strong Communities. United Way HPE has invested more than $42 million of donor dollars into local health and social services programs – “Improving Lives Locally.”
United Way HPE focusses on lessening poverty, building youth programs, supporting mental health, and ensuring successful community capacity for all. United Way provides the mechanism to achieve the highest level of impact, covering a multitude of areas of need. With 100 per cent of funds raised staying within the community, we commit to work with our legions of volunteers, with the goal that “no one be left behind.”
In many ways, the challenges of the past are not so different from today. Sixty years ago, working class Canadian’s retiring in the post-Second World War era faced difficult times. Without a Canadian Pension Plan, or adequate insurance and social programs, retirees saw a drastically reduced standard of living. Even though CPP has been in existence for more than 50 years now, many seniors in our area are still isolated, lonely, and experiencing food insecurity and health care issues; a situation United Way HPE hopes to address.
Despite positive economic indicators, local challenges continue for many people who are considered “the working poor.” Automation is shifting the workforce, and there is an increase in precarious employment. Despite low unemployment rates, there are those who struggle, earning low wages, experiencing little job security, and coping without health benefits. Frequently, these people are the last hired and the first laid off; they are unable to accumulate savings, have no private pensions and they do not benefit from paid sick leave. Their lives are marked by economic insecurity, and they will often use the services of United Way funded agencies. Addressing poverty continues to be a priority of UWHPE, as we work to address root cause issues and build sustainable solutions.
After much evolution, the United Way Hastings & Prince Edward continues to build a network of local experts, who can help ensure a high return on community investment, while measuring the impact of donor dollars in the interest of creating healthier, more vibrant, inclusive communities. Great communities are great for everyone – regardless of our differences.
The idea of a better, stronger community is well summed up by Joe Folk, plant manager for the Belleville Procter & Gamble operation (which has a fabulous history of supporting United Way HPE). He recently commented on the responsibility and culture of giving at P&G. “It is the focus of Procter & Gamble to be in our communities, helping to improve the lives of people in the places we work and hire from,” he said. “To do that we try to drive all our employees to look at the community and how they can make it better.”
Our community is fortunate to have hundreds of caring corporations who make life a bit easier for those who are vulnerable (the full list can be viewed at – https://unitedwayhpe.ca/news-events/donors/). Contributing ¼ of the United Way HPE $2 million community campaign makes Proctor & Gamble the largest local contributor.
Next on the list is the significant impact made by the men and women of 8 Wing Trenton, both military and civilian. 8 Wing Commander, Colonel Mark Goulden sums up their support by saying. “The members of 8 Wing/CFB Trenton are proud to take part in the United Way’s Government of Canada Workplace Charitable Campaign which gives back to the community they live and work in every day. We look forward to working with our community partners, like United Way, and I encourage and thank the many volunteers from across 8 Wing/CFB Trenton and the Quinte West region who work hard to make the campaign a success.”