Bushels of Hope becomes a Program

In response to feedback from our friends in rural Chatham-Kent, Bushels of Hope will now be a program of United Way Chatham-Kent. This means donations designated to Bushels of Hope will now be distributed by a committee of volunteers to address service gaps within the rural community. 

For example, BOH volunteers could decide to fund academic scholarships for rural-living secondary school graduates who are going off to college or university; start-up fees for rural residents initiating community supported agriculture (CSA’s); or to become active in a local farmer’s market. Additionally, the funds could provide one-time emergency assistance for members of the rural community who do not have the financial means to purchase new eyeglasses, walkers, hearing aids or other health-related equipment. 

Bushels of Hope volunteer Chair, Caress Lee Carpenter says “the opportunities for Bushels of Hope to give back to the rural communities are endless as long as we can continue to rally support for the program and we have engaged, active volunteers who are willing to jump on board and move this program forward.” 

If you would like to assist in raising fund for Bushels of Hope and helping to distribute those funds to the rural community, please contact Caress caresslc@chatham-kent.ca or David at 519-354-0430 or david@uwock.ca. Request for funding applications will be available in 2015. 

Community Impact Grants – Applications Now Available

At their 2014 FEBRUARY 26 meeting, the United Way Board of Directors approved the allocation of $60,000 for Community Impact Grants. 

The purpose of Community Impact funding is to enable not-for-profit human service agencies and organizations to respond quickly and creatively to pressing human needs in our community.  In addition to supporting quick response, Community Impact Grants allow time to develop program sustainability where the need is ongoing.

 With the Community Fund and the Women’s Leadership Council Grants as two of the traditional funding streams, United Way’s Director, Community Impact, Helen Heath, is delighted to provide another round of United Way Community Impact Grant funding. “Our Board is committed to providing funding opportunities to address new and emerging needs in our community.  These grants will allow more social service providers to explore new or improved ways of delivering needed services; develop services which address emerging or newly identified needs; respond to unmet needs and expand existing services into new communities through-out Chatham-Kent; or adopt models of service delivery which leverage existing community resources.” 

Applications are available at United Way’s three locations: United Way Centre for Community Innovation – 425 McNaughton Avenue West, Chatham; Wallaceburg Information and H.E.L.P. Centre – 152 Duncan Street, Wallaceburg and Tilbury Information and H.E.L.P. Centre – 20 Queen Street, Tilbury.  Grant applications are also available on United Way’s new website at http://uwock.ca/how-we-help/community-investment/ 

Deadline for submissions is 2014 APRIL 30 at 5:00 pm. 

For more information contact Helen Heath, Director, Community Impact at 519-354-0430 or helen@uwock.ca.



United Way Allocates Funds to Local Agencies

The United Way Board of Directors approved funding for 18 Funded Agencies at its 2014 February 26 Board meeting.  A total of $753,250 was allocated to provide core funding for these human service agencies which align with United Way’s three focus areas: All that kids can be, From poverty to possibility and Strong communities.

 United Way’s Community Investment Chair, Tim Weller, said, “The process was especially difficult this year.  The campaign fell $200,000 short of last year’s outcome, which meant we had fewer dollars in the Community Fund to invest in our local programs and services that make such a difference in people’s lives.  Many agencies may struggle to support their clients at the same level as they have previously.  The volunteers did the best they could with the dollars that were available.”

When notified of their funding for 2014-2015 program year, Lori Gall at the New Beginnings, ABI and Stroke Recovery Association stated, “We were prepared for a decrease in funding, knowing the shortfall in the campaign was significant.  We will tighten our belts, and make the very best of the funding from United Way that we can.  Going forward, we will increase our efforts to tell our clients, their families and our networks how important United Way funding is to our organization, in fact all of the agencies in the United Way family, and encourage them to support the 2014 campaign.” 

United Way has exercised due diligence in preparing for fundraising challenges in a difficult economy.  Tony Walsh, United Way’s Board President, commented, “In the past, when we have had successful campaigns, the Board set aside funds to help in a campaign shortfall.  It made sense to draw out funds this year to make up some of the difference between what agencies received in 2013-2014, what they requested for 2014-2015 and what our fundraising campaign had to allocate.  As difficult as this allocation process was, we are very grateful to those donors who continue to believe in the work of United Way.” 

“With combined fundraising and administration costs representing approximately 20% of the overall campaign achievement of $1,850,000, the balance of funds have been ear-marked for United Way programs focused on poverty reduction, youth engagement and community building initiatives within the three focus areas,” said Walsh.  “In addition, these programs include support for the Tilbury Information and HELP Centre, Wallaceburg Information and HELP Centre, Volunteer and Information Chatham-Kent, “The 425” Centre for Community Innovation … and dozens of non-member charities named through United Way’s Donor Choice Program.  A complete breakdown of these costs will be outlined in the organization’s audited financial statements – to be presented at the Annual General Meeting on Wednesday, 2014 APR 30.” 

Approved agency funding is as follows:


AIDS Support Chatham-Kent                                                         $ 34,350.00

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Chatham-Kent                                    $ 92,600.00

New Beginnings, ABI and Stroke Recovery Association            $ 31,350.00

C.N.I.B.                                                                                                            $ 40,000.00

Canadian Hearing Society                                                                       $ 24,350.00

Canadian Mental Health Association                                                 $ 29,350.00

Chatham-Kent Block Parent Program Inc.                                      $ 29,600.00

Chatham-Kent Family Y.M.C.A.                                                          $ 19,350.00

Chatham-Kent Student Nutrition Program                                    $ 29,150.00

Chatham-Kent Children’s Services                                                    $ 37,350.00

Epilepsy Support Centre                                                                       $ 16,000.00

Family Service Kent                                                                                $122,350.00

Learning Disabilities Association                                                      $ 89,350.00

Restorative Justice Chatham-Kent                                                   $ 26,525.00

Sidestreets Youth Drop-In Centre                                                    $ 27,625.00

The Solid Rock Café Youth Centre                                                    $ 39,600.00

VON Chatham-Kent                                                                                $ 64,350.00


For more information contact Tony Walsh, Board President at 519-354-0430/ walsht3@hotmail.com, or Helen Heath, Director, Community Impact at 519-354-0430/ helen@uwock.ca.

Momentum Building for Nonprofit Network

Representatives of the local non-profit community met this past Wednesday morning to discuss the formation of a local Chatham-Kent Non-Profit Network.

The meeting was a planned follow-up to an Ontario Non-Profit Network regional meeting hosted last November by the United Way of Chatham-Kent.

A small group of keeners from the charitable and non-profit sector came together to build a critical mass of support for those working – and volunteering – in what has also been referred to by a number of different names — the “social,” “third,” “voluntary” or “community benefit” sector of the community.

At the regional meeting in November, 55 participants were introduced to representatives of the Ontario Non-Profit Network – housed in Toronto – an organization established to serve non-profits across the province.

Our guests shared a profile of the nonprofit sector in Ontario – highlighting the fact that the sector has 46,000+ organizations and contributes over $50 billion in economic impact across the province.

The community non-profit sector, not including MUSH (municipalities, universities, schools and hospitals) employs 600,000 workers and represents 2.6% of Ontario’s GDP.

At the same meeting, an infographic was shared showcasing additional community non-profit sector statistics.

One interesting point noted in the information was the fact that – across Canada –the non-profit sector contributes more to the gross domestic product (GDP) than other key industries – including motor vehicle manufacturing, agriculture and accommodation and food services. The GDP is the value of all goods and services produced in Canada.

Locally, the non-profit sector is committed to strengthening people, jobs and infrastructure. Our sector staff work daily to support and strengthen communities through innovative and results-based initiatives.

We, too, pay taxes, purchase goods and services and contribute gifts of time, talent and money.

But more education is necessary to drive home the importance of the sector within which we work and the roles we play.

The purpose of this week’s session was to begin the mobilization of local non-profit sector representatives from health, social services, culture and recreation and environment – and to gather information which will highlight the value of the sector to community economic development.

Those present were unanimous in their support of a vehicle through which to find its collective voice and to educate others about the role and mandate of a sector which is devoted to changing lives and building community.

Initiated by United Way and supported through a grant from the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration, meeting participants for this inaugural meeting included staff and volunteers from Habitat for Humanity, Restorative Justice, Ridgetown Rejuvenation Association, Buxton Historical Site and Museum, Family Service Kent, New Beginnings/ABI, and Ursuline Sisters.

Attendees focused on the challenges and opportunities facing them in the sector, identified upcoming policy issues which would affect the sector and proposed action steps focused on enhancing collaboration across the various sectors.

A highlight of the morning’s gathering was the viewing of Dan Pallotta’s TEDTalk entitled “The way we think about charity is dead wrong!” – which has now received over 2.8 million views and is now the 46th most-viewed TEDTalk of all time.

An activist and fundraiser, Dan Pallotta calls out the double standard that drives our broken relationship to charities. Too many non-profits, he says, are rewarded for how little they spend – not for what they get done. In other words, the impact of their work.

Instead of “equating frugality with morality,” he asks us “to start rewarding charities for their big goals and big accomplishments.” In this bold talk, he says: “Let’s change the way we think about changing the world.” I encourage each of my readers to take 20 minutes to view this video and to share it with others. Together we can transform the way society thinks about charity and giving and change.

The small steering committee will be meeting again in late February to pursue plans for a number of initiatives to be undertaken – collectively – in the weeks and months ahead.

If you are interested in being part of the new Chatham-Kent Non-Profit Network, please send me an e-mail at karen@uwock.ca and let me know. Good things are coming!


The public has spoken.  The 2013 United Way campaign has concluded and we have fallen short of our target of $2.2 Million – a number chosen to “close the gap” between what we were able to give our funded agencies in 2012 and what they needed to balance their budgets.

 While this is sad news indeed, there are always silver linings that can be found in storm clouds.  On the surface, it would appear that the usual explanations – a downed economy, competition from other charitable organizations and decisions to “go a different route this year” can provide a reasonable justification for this year’s result.  But internally, we believe that the major reason why we didn’t achieve the number we were going after, is because we didn’t do a good enough job of telling our story – a story about how lives are changed because of the contributions people make to our organization.  We tried.  We really did.  But perhaps we didn’t try hard enough.  With very limited resources, we targeted new companies to encourage their employees to give, we talked with our traditional corporate partners to ask for help in increasing employee participation, we provided “Seeing is Believing” Tours and excellent training sessions for campaign volunteers and employee workplace co-ordinators … and we tried to dispel myths and misconceptions about administration and fund-raising costs – also referred to as “overhead”. 

So what went wrong, you say?  We have to be honest.  Nobody loves it as much as we do.  Some people didn’t return our telephone calls.  Others said that they were going to help us – but didn’t follow through.  Others listened to naysayers, used what they heard as an excuse not to give – and took their support (or did they?) in another direction.  

Robert Kennedy once said, “One fifth of the people are against everything all of the time.”  We get that.  And we believe it.  We can prove it by the numbers.  

While we are disappointed with this year’s result, I want to acknowledge and express a heartfelt “thanks” to those who did support us this year.  We couldn’t have done it without you.  You know who you are.  So … “thanks” to those who maintained their level of support or increased their gifts.  Without you we would be even farther in the hole than we are. 

 But what about some of the people who were there for us last year – and I’m speaking specifically of those who are still working – in good paying jobs?  Where did you go?  Why did we lose you?  Will you tell us why?  So we can fix it for next year? 

So what happens now.  Well … the agencies we fund don’t have enough money to do the work they need to do.  Our fund-distribution volunteers will be reviewing the agency budgets in the next few weeks and deliberating on how much to give each of our family members.  I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes.  Some agencies will have to make tough decisions about reducing – or abandoning entirely – specific programs. Others may choose to invest more time in fund-raising to pick up the slack. Still others may choose to leave the United Way family and “go it alone”.  Abandoning specific programs leaves people without the services they need.  Hiring fund-raisers and/or redeploying existing staff from program delivery to revenue generation – creates further competition.  In addition to the foregoing, those that need the social safety net to cope with unemployment, mental health and addictions, poverty and family breakdown may have fewer choices available to them. 

So what can you do to help?  If you have been a donor to United Way in the past – please give again and consider an increase.  If you know someone who has a misconception about United Way, tell us so that we can clear it up.  If you are a traditional supporter to our cause, please tell others why you give – and encourage them to join you.  And you don’t need to wait until the kick-off of the 2014 United Way Campaign.  Please do it now!  People are waiting for you to care.

On a related note, I recently read Dan Pallotta’s newest book “Charity Case” and have shared excerpts from that book with our Board of Directors and Staff.  For those of you who haven’t read it, I encourage you to order a copy and take the time to read it.  It will change the way you think about charitable giving and give you some food for thought.  And … in the coming weeks and months, I’ll be sharing with you – through this medium – our plans for reintroducing a new United Way to our community – one that focuses on the important role that we in the humanitarian sector play in building community and achieving well-being for everyone in Chatham-Kent.


Karen Kirkwood-Whyte, CEO/Executive Director