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Home / News / Together, we’re making a difference
October 5, 2022
United Way of the Alberta Capital Region’s President & CEO, Rob Yager, shares his gratitude for our supporters who step up to make a difference and introduce some of the people you’ve helped.
It’s fitting that Thanksgiving and the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty fall so close together on the calendar. It’s an important opportunity to give thanks to our incredible community and for the privilege many of us experience. It’s also a chance to remember that, through hope and action, we can work together to build a better, stronger community.
The last few years have shown how just one bump in the road – job loss, illness, learning disruptions – can cause an individual or family to fall on tough times. And we’ve seen just how tough it can be to break out of poverty when faced with systemic barriers.
Sometimes it can all feel too heavy. But for those of us who can shoulder some of that weight, we can make things lighter for everyone in our community.
United Way builds relationships in the community to collaborate, coordinate, and make real headway in tackling big issues in our region. And we can’t do it without you.
Through some of the darkest times in our community, so many people have stepped up to join our United Way movement.
Today, I wanted to share some stories from people who are changing their lives with the help of frontline agency partners funded by United Way, and supporters like you.
Thanks to United Way supporters, families like Alicia and Ace are empowered and supported while they reach their goals.
Alicia connected with the Norwood Centre’s Parent Respite program to access free drop-in childcare so she could recharge and work towards her future, while her son Ace could socialize with other kids and access quality early childhood education.
At Norwood Centre, United Way funding means their Parent Respite program is staffed by trained childcare educators, and they can match each participant with a family support worker to help provide wraparound support.
“We’re very well put together, I would say, for a single family. If I didn’t have Norwood, I wouldn’t be where I’m at today because I wouldn’t have had those resources to be able to get out of my situation,” Alicia says.
A family support worker helped Alicia and Ace find their own townhouse, and Ace can go to Norwood Centre while Alicia goes to school to become a nurse.
Having turned to alcohol after the loss of her stepfather, Brooke was emotionally broken. She reached out to the Family Resilience Program at the Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services for help that would also be culturally supportive and gender-affirming.
This United Way-funded program offered Brooke life-saving mental health counselling and helped restore her relationship with her immediate family. In connecting with a community of 2SLGBTQ+ young people, Brooke also discovered her true self and the confidence to live authentically. She has reconnected with her Indigenous heritage and performed in several drag shows during Edmonton’s 2022 Pride celebrations.
“I am grateful that I have an immediate family… I finally feel like I have a whole new family, that I got to choose,” Brooke says.
“Not only was I dealing with support and those heavy things, but also, I met so many great people. I am just grateful to be alive.”
Inspired by her experience in the program, Brooke hopes to one day become a social worker so she can help others facing similar challenges.
After coming to Canada as a Syrian refugee, Moumenah took part in an Empower U course through Islamic Family. The course helped her build her financial confidence to navigate the Canadian banking system.
Empower U is a United Way program that provides participants with financial literacy training and a matched savings program. At Islamic Family, the program is tailored to meet the unique needs of its participants by offering programming in English, Arabic, Somali, Urdu, Punjabi, and Hindi, and includes lessons on newcomer supports and Islamic banking.
Moumenah learned how to budget her limited income and build her credit here in Canada. She was able to purchase a sewing machine to pursue her creative passions and has since found a sewing job that she loves.
“Thank you, United Way, for supporting this program. It has helped us put food on our table here in Canada and helped us learn how to live and survive here…We are so grateful and excited for the future.”
Thanks to United Way supporters, Moumenah has the confidence and knowledge to build a happy, stable life in Canada.
Nevaeh struggled at her community school. After falling behind in her learning and becoming totally overwhelmed, she switched to an alternative school outreach program.
Nevaeh’s outreach teacher enrolled her class in the United Way-funded Community Kitchen Program through Alberta Parenting for the Future Association, allowing students to gain learning experience outside of the classroom.
Community Kitchen not only teaches valuable life skills to participants like Nevaeh, but it offers healthy, prepared meals to low-income families in the community, alleviating the pressure of food insecurity.
“It really helps bring all the kids together to do something really fun and meaningful, to be able to be a leader. We always give at least half of what we make to the Connection Center [to be] given back to the community, and that does make me feel really good about myself that I am able to do that,” Nevaeh says.
Thanks to United Way supporters, Nevaeh discovered a love of cooking and a place where she could thrive, in turn building her confidence and resilience.
Every day, I’m inspired by the small moments that show the potential that we have in our community to help each other. The bus driver waiting for a passenger stuck at a red light. The good Samaritan tracking down the owner of a lost wallet. The employee who slips a few extra dollars into the United Way jar at their workplace pancake breakfast.
We’ve seen time and time again how the Edmonton region is a place where we all want to roll up our sleeves to change things for the better.
This work matters. Your support matters. You matter.
No single person or organization can solve our communities’ biggest problems on their own. It’s only by coming together and leveraging the power of a movement that we can make lasting change.
Thank you for walking alongside us. Thank you for walking alongside Alicia, Brooke, Moumenah, and Nevaeh, and the thousands of other people in the region who have been helped through United Way.
Thank you for making a difference.
President and CEO of United Way of the Alberta Capital Region
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