United Way Campaign Goal set at $1.725 Million

At the 2017 Annual Campaign Kick-Off tonight, Campaign Chair Elizabeth Downey-Sunnen announced a goal of $1,725,000.

The United Way’s Mission is “to improve lives and build community.” Donations to and through the annual United Way campaign are invested in programs that help people cope with the numerous challenges of daily life – those associated with poverty, addiction, mental illness and physical disabilities. In 2016, over 40,000 residents turned to a United Way funded program in search of hope – hope that their life situation could and would get better for themselves and for their families.

Those on hand to pledge their support at the Kick-Off Event included Union Gas, the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance, Service Canada, Lanoue Chevrolet, the Chatham-Kent Labour Council, the Christian Labour Association, Big Brothers Big Sisters, InTouch Connection, the University of Guelph – Ridgetown Campus, Community Living Chatham-Kent, MC Business Solutions, the Canadian Mental Health Association, Shirley Davies, Councillor Brock McGregor, Municipality of Chatham-Kent and many of the agencies who administer United Way partner programs. The United Way staff also pledged their contribution of over $15,000 in support of this year’s campaign.

“The community support displayed tonight is beautiful.  We have received over $300,000 in pledges throughout the course of this evening. My team, along with other United Way volunteers and staff, will work tirelessly over the next three and a half months to achieve – and hopefully kick the heck out of – our goal,” said Elizabeth Downey-Sunnen.

“Setting this year’s goal was an informative process for our team. In our hearts, we all wanted to ensure that each of our partner programs would be fully funded and available to anyone in Chatham-Kent who needed to use those services. In order to do that, we would need to raise close to three-million dollars. We really did our homework this year, consulted and collaborated with our community leaders and key stakeholders, and the goal we felt we could realistically achieve while ensuring no further cuts to currently funded programs and services would be 1,725,000”, added Elizabeth.

Help spread more hope in our community by donating to this year’s campaign by calling (519) 354-0430 or by visiting www.uwock.ca  to make a confidential, secure on-line donation.

To pledge your support or get involved in the 2017 Campaign please contact Tom Slager at (519) 354-0430 or at tom@uwock.ca.

Operation BackPacks – A Program in High Demand … and We Need Your Help!

Operation BackPacks is in high demand this year. So far, the program has received requests for more than 1600 backpacks from families in need in Chatham-Kent … with more requests coming in every day. This is a substantial increase over previous years and we’re going to be short on supplies. We’re incredibly grateful to those who have already supported this program and are asking for a wee bit more help so no family in need will be turned away without a backpack.

In particular, we are asking for individuals who are able to donate the following items:
•  Lined Paper
•  DuoTangs
•  Pens
•  Crayons

They may be dropped off at the United Way office at 425 McNaughton Avenue West on or before August 25, 2017, Monday – Friday, 8:30 am – 5 pm.

How can I get a BackPack for my child?

Parents or guardians in need of assistance can request a backpack on or before August 22, 2017 for their children online by following this link or visiting www.uwock.ca.  Registration forms have been sent to all schools.  Or, parents can call 519-354-0430 to speak with the Project Co-ordinator. Your personal information is kept private and confidential.

How can I help?

Volunteer

We are actively looking for volunteers to help deliver the backpacks to schools throughout Chatham-Kent. If you’re able to lend a hand, please give Mary Symons, Good Neighbours Program Coordinator at United Way a call at (519) 354-0430 or you can send her an email at goodneighbours@uwock.ca.

Donate Money

The easiest way is to sponsor one or multiple backpacks at $25 each. Sponsoring a backpack allows co-ordinators to monitor the quantity of supplies and ensure each child receives the supplies they need based on their grade level.

For more information about how you can become involved please contact Mary Symons, Good Neighbours Co-ordinator at 519-354-0430 or goodneighbours@uwock.ca.

Operation BackPacks – Help is Needed!

Operation BackPacks aims to provide local children with new backpacks and grade-appropriate school supplies – the tools they need to achieve academic success – and help alleviate the financial stress parents face each new school year.

Operation BackPacks was started by staff of the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance Emergency Department in 2001, after learning about a similar program that was running in another community.  That first year they distributed 26 backpacks.  Since then, the program has steadily grown, adding additional partners along the way – Kiwanis Clubs, United Way, Service Canada, Union Gas, banks and others – to address the increasing need in our community.  Service providers came together in 2004 to ensure that families get the help they need through a more centrally co-ordinated and collective effort.  United Way was asked to take the lead and currently provides administrative support for referrals from agencies, schools and parents, centralization of supply ordering, and volunteer recruitment for assembling and delivering backpacks to schools and communities.

With support from Giant Tiger, Staples, United Way of Chatham-Kent’s Women’s Leadership Council and numerous local organizations and businesses, Operation BackPacks strives to serve every child and family in need throughout Chatham-Kent.

How can I get a BackPack for my child?

Parents or guardians in need of assistance can request a backpack on or before August 22, 2017 for their children online by following this link or visiting www.uwock.ca.  Registration forms have been sent to all schools.  Or, parents can call 519-354-0430 to speak with the Project Co-ordinator. Your personal information is kept private and confidential.

How can I help?

Volunteer

We already received orders for more than 1100 backpacks that will be distributed during the last week of August. We are actively looking for volunteers to help pack the backpacks and to help deliver them into the hands of the service recipients.

Donate Money

You can support this program by donating money, supplies or your time! The easiest way is to sponsor one or multiple backpacks at $25 each. Sponsoring a backpack allows co-ordinators to monitor the quantity of supplies and ensure each child receives the supplies they need based on their grade level.

Donate Supplies

We are in need of the following items in particular:

  • Scientific Calculators
  • Math Sets
  • Lined Paper
  • DuoTangs
  • Pens
  • Crayons

They may be dropped off at the United Way office at 425 McNaughton Avenue West on or before August 22, 2017, Monday – Friday, 8:30 am – 5 pm.

For more information about how you can become involved please contact Mary Symons, Good Neighbours Co-ordinator at 519-354-0430 or goodneighbours@uwock.ca.

2017 Volunteer Campaign Chair

This afternoon at a media event held at the AwareHouse (old Guspro building on Grand Avenue East in Chatham), the United Way of Chatham-Kent announced that Elizabeth Downey-Sunnen will be serving as the volunteer Campaign Chair and will lead the organization’s annual fundraising effort in 2017.

Elizabeth has been a long-time supporter of the United Way. It started when she was a Youth Ambassador for CKSS roughly 20 years ago.  She is a very positive and highly creative individual who believes strongly in kindness and laughter.  She is currently a visual artist in our municipality (www.downeysunnen.com), although she has also been a teacher (high school English) and is currently hosting students at AwareHouse.  This is a new venture for her, and it is aimed at working on mindfulness and self-awareness through art.  This project is in its infancy and she will be releasing more details in the near future.

She is bilingual, which enabled her to live and work in France after she completed her undergraduate degree from Laurier. Her husband was born in the United States which enabled her to live and work in Colorado before returning seven years ago to Chatham-Kent.

She has two kids (Zadie, 10; Milo, 6) and a couple of dogs (Gemma, almost 1; Roxy, almost 3 months), a couple of turtles (Jelly, 8; and PB, 5).  Only one guinea pig (Ginger, 3) and only one husband, Brian.

The Sunnen family members have been long-time supporters of United Way and Elizabeth is excited for the opportunity to give back to the community that has provided so much for her. She understands the value and impact United Way’s funded programs and services provide – having reached a little over 40,000 Chatham-Kent residents in 2016.

Elizabeth looks forward to working with her 2017 Campaign Cabinet which will be made up of both new faces and some returning members from last year.

Co-operators Insurance is hosting a very special event this year for United Way’s official campaign kick-off. The event is being held at The Kent 1874 on Friday, September 8, 2017 starting at 6 pm. The community is welcomed to join us as we celebrate our community with an evening of entertainment featuring Tom Lockwood and Rock Steady. Tickets are available at the United Way offices in Chatham, Tilbury and Wallaceburg, Musical Strings and Things, Betty Brite Dry Cleaners, and Hip Entertainment. They are also available online: TheKent1874.com or at the Door.

All About YOUth

The All About YOUth event is a way to celebrate International Youth Day that takes place on Friday, August 11, 2016 from 4pm-8pm at the Downtown Chatham Centre.

Brought to you by the Youth Engagement Partnership and United Way of Chatham Kent, this event is targeted to youth aged 11-25 and will be a fun, interactive learning event.

This year’s event is a Carnival Theme with lots of fun games & activities for youth to participate in. One event will include a dunk tank with local Police, Fire and EMS first responders willing to take the plunge for an extremely worthwhile cause – engaging our youth!

Community agencies that offer services for the age demographic listed above will have the opportunity to showcase their agency with a booth. They will have resources available for youth to take.

This is a FREE indoor/outdoor event.

This is second year for the event following a very successful inaugural event in 2016.

If you have any questions about this event or wish to get involved please contact Erica Kitchen at 519-354-0430 or erica@uwock.ca