Chatham – A unified, stronger United Way now serves the communities of Chatham-Kent and Windsor-Essex. Now known as United Way/Centraide Windsor-Essex Chatham-Kent, the larger organization expands the service region once served by two separate entities – United Way Chatham-Kent and United Way/Centraide Windsor-Essex County.

The announcement was made June 26, 2024 at the Tilbury Information & HELP Centre. It was also announced that Lorraine Goddard, the current CEO for United Way/Centraide Windsor-Essex County, will lead the new organization.

The unification comes at a pivotal time for the United Way movement in Chatham-Kent says Chris Appleton, Board President, United Way Chatham-Kent. “76 years is phenomenal for any organization. We want our legacy of caring to continue in the region. The Boards and staff leadership recognized the strong alignment of our mission, vision, values, and priorities. Unification is an opportunity to better serve our communities; to share expertise and resources means that United Way will be positioned to support Chatham-Kent for another 76 years and beyond.”

United Way has a mission-driven commitment to local community building. “Our dedication to providing what the community needs is unwavering. A regional, unified United Way will be a more efficient, effective and sustainable organization,” confirms Lorraine Goddard, CEO United Way/Centraide Windsor-Essex County. “We understand the importance of local support and the unique needs of each community. That’s why we want to be very clear that all donations made in Chatham-Kent will stay in Chatham-Kent just as the donations made in Windsor-Essex will stay in Windsor-Essex. If it’s raised here, it stays here! We will maintain strong local leadership and community-level connections including the continuation of local campaign cabinets and allocation committees.”

The decision to unify was born from more than a year of discussions about the long-term strategy for United Way in our area and a collective desire to amplify positive community impact across Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent. “We recognize that our communities are diverse, and their needs are varied,” notes Lori Atkinson, Board Chair, United Way/Centraide Windsor-Essex County.  “From our first meeting about regionalization, both boards made the promise to honour this diversity by ensuring that funds raised in Chatham-Kent remain in Chatham-Kent and those raised in Windsor-Essex stay in Windsor-Essex. This local focus, coupled with the resources and expertise of a larger organization, positions us to make significant strides in improving the lives of the individuals and families we serve.”

Along with extensive internal discussions, outreach to key stakeholders in each community was critical to the decision-making process and the future success of the new organization. “United Way is working to build a community where everyone has access to a safe place to sleep and enough food to eat,” said Jason Gillet, Director of Storage and Transmission Business Development, Enbridge Gas based in Chatham.

“Enbridge Gas is proud to continue supporting the United Way campaign in the Chatham-Kent and Windsor-Essex region and remains deeply committed to being an active community partner. This collaboration will bring together teams to offer enhanced support to the residents of Windsor-Essex County and Chatham-Kent, uniting a broader range of talent, expertise, and resources to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives.”

Looking ahead, United Way is excited to launch a reinvigorated fundraising campaign in Chatham-Kent this year that will engage workplaces and donors. Over the next couple of months, more information about United Way community investments will be shared.

United Way Centraide Windsor-Essex Chatham-Kent will maintain office space at 300 Giles Blvd. E. in Windsor, 425 McNaughton Avenue W in Chatham as well as the Tilbury Information & HELP Centre at 26 Queen Street N. in Tilbury.

The transition to the new organization has begun and will continue over the next several weeks. Information will continue to be shared online and via social media. Until the transition is complete, to donate in the Chatham-Kent region, please call Chris McAgy at 519.259.6147 or [email protected].