A quick Google search of “united way” this month brings up dozens of news stories on the launch of the United Way campaigns across Canada and the US. From Arkansas to the Soo, and all the way over to Kamloops, local United Way charities are gearing up for what looks like to be a record year for fundraising. This year’s goal for London Middlesex is $9.17 million dollars, up from last year’s goal of $9.1 million.
United Way’s slogan, “Together, we are possibility,” emphasizes the cooperative nature of their charitable model. They support poverty reduction, mental health promotion, emergency and crisis services, and employment services. Last year, United Way helped more than 85,000 people in the region either directly or indirectly through sponsored programs. The United Way London & Middlesex has several stories about the lives they’ve touched on their website.
WIL Employment Connections and the London Middlesex Immigrant Employment Council are recipients of United Way funding, through the LMIEC Mentorship Program, which brings together internationally trained individuals and local mentors to help foster an understanding of the regional job market, establish connections and networking contacts, and to learn more about their employment sector.
The program has been a great success for mentees, and the benefits to them are obvious. Mentors benefit, too: they gain an international perspective on their sector, they can recruit, and they can improve their own coaching skills.
WIL and the LMIEC have been fundraising for United Way since they began funding the LMIEC program in 2011. This year’s Scotiabank Stair Climb at One London Place will pit the WIL Employment Connections staff against 24 floors and over 450 stairs, and against each other. Two teams will compete to see who can raise the most money and support. The real challenge isn’t climbing to the top (though it won’t be easy), the real challenge is raising the money for the United Way.
This sort of circularity is integral to the United Way. Former recipients of funding are often involved in fundraising; I suspect that most see it as a way to give back to the organisation that helped them. The United way helps our clients in so many ways (by funding translation services, for instance), so it makes sense for WIL to support them.
Myself, I’m looking forward to the climb. I’ve never done it, but I’ve found myself meeting and beating lots of challenges over the last couple years.
I’ll see you on November 3, I hope. I’ll be passing you on the way up :). Just remember to keep to the right.