School and site reps pledge to “reach higher”
The Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board is “reaching higher” this year after surpassing its United Way employee campaign high of $91,575 last year by more than $8,500.
Welcoming site reps to a United Way Employee Campaign Kick-off Breakfast on October 24, 2019, campaign co-chair Carm Barone credited their enthusiasm and motivation in spreading the message of what “Local Love” is for making a difference in the lives of children and families across the community.
“The Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board is proud to help the United Way address our community’s most critical needs of people in every neighbourhood,” he championed. “Last year, because of the caring spirit and united efforts of our employees, we raised $100,085 and I’m excited about the opportunity to raise even more this year.”
This year’s United Way campaign theme, “Local Love,” continues to focus on healthy communities right here at home.
Calling himself a lifelong United Way donor, Director of Education David Hansen pointed to his own life for examples of people impacted by the United Way: an elderly parent, a brother with severe disabilities, and his children who play C.Y.O. sports.
“That’s in my life,” he said, “Now let’s imagine those who don’t have the opportunities that I have in my life in order to have their kids or their parents or their siblings or their friends supported. And that’s the work that the United Way does.”
“So for me, supporting the United Way is a no-brainer. These are our kids that are supported in this.”
Commending staff for their great work in crossing the $100,000 threshold last year, he acknowledged that this year’s campaign was going to be a challenge.
“When we received the call in the Director’s Office, there was a moment of celebration that was quickly followed by ‘oh my gosh, now what do we do’ because how do we cross that line again.”
“And how do we do it?” he asked. “We get to $100,000 through people and that’s people like you doing that work.”
Urging the site reps not to underestimate the impact that $100,000 can make, Brenda Hajdu, Vice-President of Marketing & Communications for the United Way indicated that the HWCDSB is among a very small group of community organizations that are mobilizing change.
“At the United Way, we are working hard to address some of our most unignorable social issues,” she elaborated. “We know that youth who face multiple barriers when they are young are likely going to face major barriers in adulthood.”
“We also know that mental health is a real problem right now.”
Currently one in four youth is battling a mental health issue. The problem is further compounded by poverty, suggested Hajdu.
“It drives up hospitalization rates, puts pressure on the healthcare system, increases high school dropout rates, increases crime and puts pressure on the judicial system.”
“So what do we do about this?”
One of the best evidence-based strategies is to invest in youth.
“We know at the United Way when we invest in youth we are breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty. It is hands down the best investment we can make.”
She added that the United Way invests in 42 programs in Hamilton.
"We can only do that because of you. You are changing the odds for youth and because of that, you’re changing the odds for this entire community. I cannot thank you enough.”
“Do not underestimate the impact that you’re making. It is tremendous.”
This year, the HWCDSB is “reaching even higher” with its 2019 campaign, said HWCDSB United Way Co-chair Elena Minicucci.
“Our goal is that collectively our ‘local love’ will raise $100,100,” she announced. “This is a huge goal for us but we did it once and with some creativity, imagination and encouragement, we draw on our theme for this year to ‘reach higher.’”
Reaching higher will depend once again on 100% site participation, she added.
“It is indeed your love in action and service to others that will make this local love campaign a huge success,” echoed co-chair Carm Barone.
This year’s United Way employee giving campaign runs from October 24 to November 24, 2019.