2016 Volunteer Campaign Co-Chairs 

Tonight at United Way of Chatham-Kent’s 2016 Annual General Meeting, the volunteer Campaign Co-Chairs were introduced. Patricia Wright, a service recipient from multiple United Way funded programs, and Steve Pratt, Community Development Coordinator of AIDS Support Chatham-Kent will lead the organization’s annual fundraising effort in 2016.

Patricia WrightPatricia Wright grew up in Ancaster but has been a proud resident of Chatham-Kent for nearly 10 years. In 2010, Patricia was struck by a vehicle and suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) which led to PTSD and Epilepsy. “Without United Way funded services I would still be stuck in a wheelchair, withdrawn from society, and non-communicative.  I wouldn’t be here today. ”  

Patricia volunteers with numerous services supported by United Way and last year she became an Agency Speaker, giving presentations in workplaces across Chatham-Kent emphasizing the necessity of these services in our community. “Seeing the effect my story had on others and how it impacted their decision to donate made me want to do more to ensure these services are there for people who need them.” While Patricia spends a lot of her time volunteering, she is also an accomplished brown belt having recently competed and placed in International competitions in British Columbia and Las Vegas.

Steve PrattSteve Pratt was born and raised in Wallaceburg before moving to Toronto where he attended both the University of Toronto and York University. After graduating, Steve went on to work with a Fortune 50 company where he quickly became one of their youngest operations executives in the history of the company. While working in Toronto Steve struggled with mental illness and addiction. Returning home to Chatham-Kent he eventually found treatment and support from United Way supported agencies.

Today, Steve has returned to school to complete part-time post-graduate studies in psycholinguistics. He’s also working to break the silence around mental health and addictions, particularly in the workplace, through openly sharing his own lived experience.

Steve and Patricia look forward to working with their 2016 Campaign Cabinet which will be made up of both new faces and some returning members from last year.

For additional information, and to find out how you can become involved with the 2016 campaign, contact
Patricia Wright patriciamwright@hotmail.com, 519-365-5124 or
Steve Pratt stevep80@gmail.com, 226-494-1533.
Reach United Way Chatham-Kent at info@uwock.ca or 519-354-0430.


Youth to spread the word about Ontario 211 during ChangeTheWorld

211 Bus

On Friday, April 15, 2016, members of United Way’s Youth Committee and friends will be going door-to-door spreading the word about a vital service in our community –211 – as part of this year’s ChangeTheWorld Youth Volunteer Challenge.

ChangeTheWorld is a province-wide campaign for youth ages 14 to 18 to volunteer through a wide variety of exciting local initiatives delivered in partnership by the Government of Ontario and the Ontario Volunteer Centre Network (OVCN). The goal is to inspire youth to volunteer, develop new skills and broaden their awareness of community service organizations. United Way of Chatham-Kent serves as the local administrator for this youth engagement initiative.

The youth will be boarding a bus in Chatham and traveling to Ridgetown, Blenheim and Tilbury where they will be joined by youth in each respective community to distribute informative 211 door hangers. Lunch at the Blenheim Youth Centre will be provided by Wayne’s Pizzas & Subs and Coca-Cola.

211 – the three digit telephone number – is answered live, 24 hours a day, every day of the year including holidays, in more than 150 languages. Residents can call 211 for information on community, social and health services, as well as municipal, provincial and federally funded services like housing, employment and mental health and addiction agencies. Residents can also call 211 for services like food banks or for the non-emergency police number.

Financial support for 211 is provided by United Ways across the country – in support of its “From Poverty to Possibility” focus area.

Youth can sign up with their friends to be part of this event by contacting Erica Kitchen, Youth Engagement Co-ordinator, at 519-354-0430, erica@uwock.ca or @UWCKYOUTH.

A Decade at “The 425”

It’s no joke – today we celebrate 10 years at “The 425” United Way Centre for Community Innovation!2011 AUG 11 AH

Since 1948 the local United Way has had many homes –from the corner of King and Fifth to the WISH Centre – but a decade ago we settled in to our forever home at 425 McNaughton. The building has seen some changes over the years, with our 2011 reno funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation, and friends and tenants who come and go.

It is worth noting that today also marks the two very special workiversaries – 23 years for Brian Armitage, Director of Labour Programs and Services and the Manager of the Wallaceburg Information & HELP Centre and 20 years for Helen Heath, Director of Community Impact. You are both troopers for putting up with us for so long! (Then again we put up with you!) Thank you for your dedication over the past two decades.

A Celebration of Community

AGM2016PosterThe 2015-2016 Annual General Meeting will be very different from past years. In a twist, the meeting will be less of a meeting and more of “a celebration of community” demonstrating the fulfillment of our mission to improve lives and build community in Chatham-Kent.

All are welcome to attend this event, to be held at The Kent 1874, with a time for fellowship from 5:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. where a light buffet will be served. Following there will be a short business meeting. Once the business is out of the way at 6:30 p.m. local artists will share their talents, performing in a variety of musical styles. Interspersed between these performances will be presentations of artwork from the 2015 Timeraiser to the bidders who have completed their volunteer hours.

“We wanted to do something different this year, something more fun that would educate and engage the community. We will be incorporating music and art while recognizing the contributions of volunteers in a lighter celebratory atmosphere,” said Chief Executive Officer, Karen Kirkwood-Whyte.

If you wish to become a member of United Way of Chatham-Kent and have voting rights during the business meeting, please complete the free membership application here.

For more information about this event please contact Karen Kirkwood-Whyte at 519-354-0430 or karen@uwock.ca.

Youth aim to ChangeTheWorld through volunteering

Web_Banner_-_English (1)ChangeTheWorld – Ontario Youth Volunteer Challenge
kicks off during National Volunteer Week April 10 to 16 and runs until May 23, 2016.

ChangeTheWorld is delivered in partnership by the Government of Ontario and the Ontario Volunteer Centre Network (OVCN). It is a province-wide campaign for youth ages 14 to 18 to volunteer through a wide variety of exciting local initiatives. The goal is to inspire youth to volunteer, develop new skills and broaden their awareness of community service organizations.

In the past eight years of ChangeTheWorld, 180,000 students have participated, contributing an astounding 870,000 volunteer hours! In 2016, the ninth year of ChangeTheWorld, 24 Volunteer Centres will be participating across Ontario hoping to surpass the goal of 39,000 youth volunteering for a minimum of three hours over the course of the six-week campaign.

Locally in 2015, United Way of Chatham-Kent and community partners engaged over 1,253 youth and 26,236 hours were volunteered!

“The ChangeTheWorld – Ontario Youth Volunteer Challenge is a wonderful way for Ontario’s youth to get involved and experience the rewards of giving back. I am delighted that through ChangeTheWorld, young people have the opportunity to develop their skills, hone their talents, and discover their passions. By becoming active and engaged in their community, Ontario’s youth continue to make a real difference in our province,” said Michael Chan, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade.

Youth Ambassadors for ChangeTheWorld

Are you an Ontario high school student looking for volunteer experience? Do you want to start your own initiative? Are you a community organization that is looking for youth volunteers? Are you a teacher looking to engage your students in exciting volunteer opportunities? Here is your chance! Contact your local United Way. Working together in this year’s ChangeTheWorld campaign; we can help make an impact in our community!

For more information contact Erica Kitchen, Youth Engagement Co-ordinator, at 519-354-0430, erica@uwock.ca or @UWCKYouth.