As we begin the new year, I want to take some time to celebrate the year-round contributions of United Way’s member agencies. And I also want to say “thanks” to those who dedicate their time and talent to these vitally important social service agencies. This week I will focus on two of our funded agencies – Chatham-Kent Block Parent Program Inc. and Chatham-Kent Family Y.M.C.A.

Chatham-Kent Block Parent Program Inc. is one of the members of the United Way family of agencies whose programs are supported through donations to the annual campaign. This agency helps build a safer community by providing immediate assistance to individuals in distress, through a safety network of 166 residential/rural homes and 11 businesses throughout Chatham-Kent which have been screened by local police services. Contributions are used to offer ongoing personal safety awareness and injury prevention education to our communities’ most vulnerable citizens – our children and seniors. And it’s much more than just a sign in the window!

Kim Lang has been an active Block Parent in Wallaceburg since April of 2004. Kim owns a home which is assisted by Community Living of Wallaceburg. There are several caregivers who assist Kim with the various components of daily living. Kim is a vibrant, energetic and community-oriented woman who loves volunteering for Block Parents – not only as a “safe stranger” in her community – but also at many parades over the years. Kim also attended the organization’s 2012 Annual General Meeting and helped meet and greet delegates at the 2011 Provincial Block Parent Conference which was held in Wallaceburg. Kim and the Block Parent Program have a co-operative, mutually beneficial relationship that is highly valued by each of them.

Chatham-Kent Block Parent Program Inc. relies very heavily on United Way support as alternative sources of funding are quite limited. This agency is currently receiving an annual allocation of $31,453 from United Way. The organization served 2,117 individuals throughout Chatham-Kent during 2011.

The Chatham-Kent Family YMCA was one of six charter members when United Way was established in 1948. When you give to United Way, you are supporting direct and immediate support to individuals and families in Chatham-Kent who otherwise would be unable to afford to participate. Everyone should have the opportunity to join in on YMCA programs and services regardless of their ability to pay. Jenny (not her real name) is a single mom with two small children. She states, “It is a struggle financially to get my kids enrolled in activities. The YMCA has provided us with a subsidy so that my children can participate in programs/swimming lessons and teach them independence.” In addition to that, Jenny admits, “I need some ‘me’ time and if it wasn’t for the Y, I simply wouldn’t have that.”

The Chatham-Kent Family YMCA currently receives $21,612 from United Way to assist with subsidized memberships.