‘United in Local Love’: United Way launches annual campaign

GUELPH – United Way Guelph Wellington Dufferin kicked-off its 2020 fundraising campaign to a virtual audience on Sept. 22.

Officials say the campaign highlights the ongoing social issues the local community is facing and remind everyone they have a role to play as in the ongoing response and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The past six months have stretched our social services sector to its limits,” said 2020 campaign chair Jeff DeRuyter.

“Unignorable issues that our community faced before – food insecurity, homelessness and mental health – have been further exacerbated by COVID-19,” stated DeRuyter.

“Vulnerable individuals like seniors, children and families found themselves needing additional supports – or some found themselves navigating support for the first time.”

“And despite the challenges, our community has responded in an incredible way. Frontline agencies have worked overtime to ensure services are there and doors remain open – thanks in part to the support from United Way,” said DeRuyter.

“We are very grateful to the individuals and businesses who have continued to support United Way and look forward to continuing that positive momentum heading into this year’s campaign.”

Since April, United Way has invested over $1.15 million in emergency funding to support local social services.

This is in addition to the $2.5 million in annual funding for 50 local organizations.

“These additional funds have done amazing things for our community, but we can’t stop here,” said United Way Guelph Wellington Dufferin executive director Glenna Banda.

“The fact that I am speaking to an empty room today is a reminder that our community’s recovery is going to take awhile.

“It’s going to take commitment. Our neighbours need us this year more than ever.”

The kick-off event was broadcast via a live stream from The Seed warehouse space.

Virtual attendees were given a tour of the new space and an update on the Emergency Food Home Delivery program, which aims to deliver 100,000 nutritious food boxes by October.

United Way has invested an additional $70,000 in the program since the pandemic began to assist with food insecurity in the local community.

Funds raised through the annual campaign will allow United Way to continue to support local organizations at a critical time.

The Ontario Non-Profit Network estimates  one in five non-profit organizations across Ontario will close in the next six months.

Second only to government, United Way is the largest investor in social services in our communities.

“Our communities will look a lot different without these vital services there to support those who need our help, and while we can’t predict how the future will unfold, we do know that there will be increased demand for the services and supports that so many people already rely on,” said Banda.

“No other organization in our community can do what the United Way does for social service programs, and now, more than ever, we need the community to come together and help us make a difference.

“We all have a role to play and every act of kindness and generosity, no matter the size, will have an impact when we work together – we must be united in local love.”

Donations are accepted at workplaces across Guelph and Wellington and Dufferin counties, and through the United Way office (519-821-0571 or www.unitedwayguelph.com).

Donations, as always, will stay 100 per cent local, officials state.