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.


United Way Allocates $68,000 for Short-Term Community Impact Grants

On 2014 MAY 28, the United Way Board of Directors approved allocations totalling $68,000 in support of six programs.

Community Impact Grants exist to address new and emerging needs in the community, within our three Focus Areas:  From poverty to possibility, All that kids can be, and Strong communities.  They may support a one-time initiative, provide seed funds for a start-up or expansion program, provide short-term bridge funding to other funding sources, or act as a “testing ground” for agencies that may be considering funded agency status down the road.

 In addition to allocations to Member Agencies, designations to Non-Member charities, and grants to Women’s Leadership Council recipients, the United Way Board of Directors budgets, annually, approximately 3% of the announced campaign achievement for Community Impact Grants.

 All that kids can be …

 The Chatham-Kent Women’s Centre will receive $15,700 for their Youth Violence Prevention Program.  This program reaches out to youth aged 13-18 who are dealing with relationship concerns, family stress, anger management and navigating life’s daily challenges.

 Big Brothers Big Sisters of Chatham-Kent has received bridge financing of $6,000 for their Three French Language Site-Based Mentorship Programs, which will allow them to expand their In-School Mentoring, Go Girls and Game On Programs into our French community and French schools.

 The YMCA will receive $5,000 in support of a new program – Beyond the Bell.  Our local YMCA is one of three YMCAs across Canada to be chosen for this pilot program, which has shown exceptional outcomes in the Burlington area for the past several years.  Beyond the Bell helps to break the cycle of poverty by closing the achievement gap experienced by low-income children compared to their middle-income classmates.

 From poverty to possibility …

 FARMSTART is a new initiative in Chatham-Kent that strives to introduce farming, through an incubator farm model, to interested individuals who might not otherwise have access to the resources and knowledge.  United Way has allocated $22,000 to FARMSTART to conduct feasibility analyses and planning to ensure that FARMSTART’s know-how and services are integrated into the local context and respond to local needs.

 Community Living Wallaceburg will receive $14,800 for their Summer Employment Access (SEA) Program.  Two Summer Job Coaches will be hired to help market the SEA Program to employers.  They will act as peer role models to youth with a disability- related barrier to employment, who are looking to develop job skills and secure paid positions over the summer.  The job coaches will provide on-the-job training, orientation and assistance with developing natural supports in the workplace for the employees, and liaise with employers to ensure their labour requirements and expectations are being met.

 Strong Communities …

 AIDS Support Chatham-Kent will support their PHA clients (persons living with HIV/AIDS) through a $4,500 Community Impact Grant.  A major barrier for PHAs is transportation.  This grant will facilitate transportation to three Leadership Workshops, two holiday celebrations, two regional social outings and medical appointments.  The grant will also provide resources for PHAs to prepare and share nutritional meals with one another during local, monthly socials. 

 These grants are for a one year period, with the option of applying, should funding be available, for a second year.

 For more information, contact Helen Heath, Director, Community Impact at or 519-354-0430 x 274.