United Way of Windsor-Essex County Celebrates 70 years

Filed under: Headline,In Our Community |

by Adam Gault

The United Way of Windsor-Essex County held its “Kick Off in the County” event at Cooper’s Hawk Vineyard in Harrow last Thursday, October 5, to mark 70 successful years in Windsor-Essex.

Over the course of those last seven decades, the United Way has been instrumental in tackling poverty and improving the lives of individuals from across Essex County.

Continuing at the forefront of tacking those poverty-related issues, the night’s event featured a special guest speaker who has been involved with a United Way pilot project since 2015. The special guest speaker also personified the powerful, “Together we fight, together we win,” message of this event’s fundraising campaign.

McKenzie, a grade 11 student from Leamington, has been with the United Way’s “On Track to Success” school program since its inception two years ago.

With this program, McKenzie and students like her, are afforded one-on-one support to help with anything from homework, organizational matters, to more personal matters like relationship or home issues. “On Track to Success” has shown marked academic improvement for all students who have been involved with the program.

“United Way, I find is extremely helpful, especially with the tutoring, giving you a nice quiet place to go do your homework and just free your mind,” McKenzie explained of her firsthand experiences with the program. “Liam (her personal success coach) is also very helpful. There’s not even just tutoring, but any issues you have. He’s helped me a lot with projects to family issues.”

McKenzie aspires to be a social worker after post-secondary graduation to provide other young people with the sort of guidance that she has received from working with the United Way.

“Social problems have become much more complex, and complex challenges require innovative solutions,” Lorraine Goddard said, United Way’s CEO. “Creating measurable change requires a different approach. It’s going to require a very concerted ‘all–in’ effort to be able to say we not only have changed people’s lives, which we have done for 70 years, but we have changed conditions in this community – which is really the solution.”

TD Bank was one of the featured partners of the United Way at the kick off event, and TD District Vice President and 2017 United Way Campaign Chairperson Eric Griggs explained why his company considers their work with United Way to be some of their proudest work in local communities.

“It is very important that basic needs are met for everyone in our community. It is important not to leave people behind,” Griggs said. “TD Bank Group believes that young people are our future and every young person should have the opportunities and support they need to reach their full potential.”

In 2016, nearly 11,000 people received assistance from United Way programs in Essex County alone. This year’s campaign looks to fund programs to give 4000 young people the education and skills they need for their personal success and to break the cycle of poverty.