The more things change...

…the better I feel.

I’ve been an employee with United Way for nine years – all told, my association with this United Way goes back 13 years.   In the year 2000, I was working for an advertising agency and through that job, got the opportunity to work on an ad campaign for United Way.  I can now safely share (confession time) that I didn’t know much about the work United Way did, but it didn’t take long before I was elbow deep in the information they provided.  There is one thing I can say for sure; it’s a steep learning curve.

It’s not getting to know United Way that’s so difficult – it’s learning about the complexities of the challenges – the causes of poverty – the horrendous effects it has on families and individuals.  And, finding ways to put an end to poverty, once and for all – giving people the ability to be self-reliant.

Way back then, in 2000, I had the chance to meet a woman named Barb Hoff-Morin.  She was in her late thirties, early forties and she had been helped by Terra Centre – an organization that works with pregnant and parenting teens.  She was very young when her son Carl was born – she was also not in a stable relationship nor did she have the family support needed to face such a challenge.  In Barb’s case, she got the help she needed – she finished high school and went on to a career with the Federal Government.  

Recently, at our public launch of United Way’s new direction and results-based approach to Creating Pathways Out of Poverty, I reconnected with Barb.  Now retired, she is on the board of directors for Terra – in fact; she has been for a number of years.  We chatted about how much things have changed, and how wonderful it is that Terra now has a school specifically for young mothers.  

Young women attend Braemar School while they are pregnant and after they have their babies so that they can finish high school and go on to post-secondary, and, eventually, have a solid future with a job that allows them to live a financially stable life.  What a concept – supporting those who are vulnerable – removing barriers and roadblocks.  Giving them the options they need to complete their education – in a safe and caring environment.  Instead of turning our backs, pointing fingers and judging, we have found a way to enable these young women to become productive and contributing members of their community.

I know that Barb is thankful to be able to give back to her community through United Way, Terra and its good work.  And, I know another young woman and her adorable little daughter who are also grateful for the support and help of our community.   Marisa Castor’s story, Breaking the Cycle, is featured in the most recent edition of WE Magazine.  I encourage you to learn more about this courageous young woman and the goals and dreams she has for her life.  

Yes, the more things change, the better I feel about the society and community we have become.  Encouragement and support will always, always return better results.  Barb and Marisa are just two examples of that.