Summer Spotlight: Curtis Xavier

With thanks to the Federal Government’s Canada Summer Jobs Program, United Way is pleased to welcome back – for a second summer – Curtis Xavier.  Curtis’ responsibilities include planning for the Chatham-Kent Amazing Race – designing the route and timeline, acting as the main staff contact for the planning committee and preparing clues, instructions and rules.  But don’t think you can get him to talk!!  He’s signed a “mum’s the word” confidentiality agreement!  Curtis is currently enrolled in the Practical Nursing Program at St. Clair College where he will return to his studies this September.   Curtis has a wonderful sense of humour and is a huge asset to the Staff Team at United Way.  You can tell by his infectious smile!  As United Way strives to improve lives and build community, we celebrate the contributions made by our local youth!  Thank you, Curtis, for sharing your time and talents with United Way.

All That Kids Can Be

Justine struggled with self-confidence and making lasting friendships. She recently moved into a new home and is preparing to enter secondary school. To assist Justine in boosting her self-confidence, her foster mom registered her for the Social Skills B.E.S.T. (Better Emotional and Social Times) Program at the Learning Disabilities Association of Chatham-Kent. Justine now exudes self-confidence and is willing to share her feelings openly. She is excited for a new chapter in her life and the beginning of high school.

Strong Communities

Derek Beselaere suffered a prenatal stroke and as a result has Cerebral Palsy that affects the entire right side of his body. Throughout his life Derek has been involved in various programs supported by United Way of Chatham-Kent including the Children’s Treatment Centre and Learning Disabilities Association of Chatham-Kent. Derek is currently a member of New Beginnings ABI & Stroke Recovery Association. Because of the supports he has received over the years through these United Way Funded Agencies, he is able to maintain an active lifestyle and continue to improve his quality of life.

Chatham-Kent Women’s Centre Reinstates Membership in United Way

Officials at the Chatham-Kent Women’s Centre and United Way of Chatham-Kent today jointly announced the reinstatement of the local Women’s Centre as a member of the United Way family of agencies. 

United Way has been a long-time supporter of the Women’s Centre, having provided initial start-up funding for the historical Queen Street location and various one-time grants for specific items of need, encouragement and support for vulnerable women and their children.  In addition, the two organizations have worked together on numerous community initiatives – including those associated with the United Way Women’s Leadership Council, Prosperity Roundtable and Youth Engagement Partnership. 

“After more than a decade on our own,” said Hal Bushey, Executive Director of the agency, “our Board of Directors has determined that it would be beneficial for our organization to seek reinstatement of our membership as a funded agency of United Way.  This decision was made in light of the fact that the agency must raise $105,000 in this fiscal year to balance our budget.  Our fundraising needs have placed us in direct competition with many local organizations.  We have decided that rather than creating additional competition, we will work alongside the other members of the United Way family to educate the community about the value of the programs and services funded through donations to the annual fundraising appeal.” 

The Chatham-Kent Women’s Centre joined the United Way in November of 1979 and withdrew from membership in April of 2004 to branch out on its own.

 “There is no question that competition for the charitable dollar is on the rise,” said United Way’s CEO, Karen Kirkwood-Whyte. “For that reason it is important for the members of our family of agencies to work together to support the high profile United Way campaign in the fall and generate as many savings as we can in fund-raising costs.  If, through the annual campaign, we can balance the budgets of our member agencies, staff members will not have to redirect precious time and talent away from the provision of service to engage in fund-raising activities.  We see the reinstatement of the Chatham-Kent Women’s Centre as an opportunity to encourage existing and new donors to consider a consolidated gift to fund the now 30 plus agencies, programs and services supported by United Way.”

 As part of the agreement between the agencies, this will be the last year for the Chatham-Kent Women’s Centre to host its “Walk-A-Mile” Event in the fall; they will move the fund-raiser to May-June where they hope to engage more young people while school is still open.

 The Chatham-Kent Women’s Centre staff and board have pledged to do their part to help increase donations in this year’s United Way campaign by assisting with presentations and fundraising events and helping to tell the story of lives changed through gifts to United Way. 

For more information, please contact Hal Bushey at 519-351-9145, Extension 232 and/or Karen Kirkwood-Whyte at 519-354-0430.

641 Chatham-Kent youth volunteers break ChangeTheWorld records


Chatham-Kent youth contributed 20,846 volunteer hours in six weeks 

United Way of Chatham-Kent along with the Ontario Volunteer Centre Network (OVCN) wrapped up the 2014 ChangeTheWorld – Ontario Youth Volunteer Challenge, which was held from April 6 to May 19. This year’s Chatham-Kent target was to encourage 619 youth to contribute 2,476 volunteer hours. This goal was clearly no challenge for our local youth! A total of 641 youth aged 14 to 18 volunteered a generous 20,846 hours. 

The Chatham-Kent youth contributed to the provincial total of 40,000 youth and 210,000 hours. There were 24 Ontario Volunteer Centres that participated in surpassing the provincial goal of 33,000 youth with an average of three hours each. 

Erica Kitchen, United Way of Chatham-Kent Youth Engagement Coordinator says, “We are very thankful to all the youth and numerous nonprofit organizations that participated in the challenge. It is great to see the youth of today giving back to our community and understanding the importance of being an engaged citizen.” Kitchen continued with saying “Daryl Zimmer, hired on a short term contract to assist with this year’s ChangeTheWorld event, was instrumental in coordinating the efforts of everyone involved. We could not have exceeded the targets or have hoped to be as successful in this campaign without him!” 

The ChangeTheWorld- Ontario Youth Volunteer Challenge is a call to action for youth aged 14 to 18 years to volunteer through a wide variety of exciting community initiatives. ChangeTheWorld is funded by the Government of Ontario in partnership with the Ontario Volunteer Centre Network (OVCN). 

United Way of Chatham-Kent is eagerly awaiting the start of next year’s 2015 ChangeTheWorld campaign which will take place from April 12 to May 24. The launch of ChangeTheWorld 2015 coincides with National Volunteer Week (April 12 to 18). 

For more information about this years challenge or to get involved with next year’s initiative, please contact Erica Kitchen, Youth Engagement Coordinator at or 519-354-0430.