The United Way anticipates a greater need for services in the Okanagan ahead in 2019.
The City of Kelowna citizen’s survey published in Dec. identified social issues as a growing concern of residents – something United Way recognizes all too well. It’s easy to be complacent given the economic growth in our region, but the statistics continue to be staggering: 1 in 5 Canadians live with a mental illness; Over 40,000 people in the Okanagan live below the poverty line; and, 13 per cent of households don’t have access to healthy, affordable food.
To address this, United Way is at the heart of many community collaborations tackling the most pressing social issues such as poverty and homelessness. 2019 priorities include spearheading the development of a Central Okanagan Poverty Reduction Strategy, steering the 100 Homes Penticton initiative, and providing support for the Central Okanagan Journey Home Society.
Although the 2018 tax year may be over, United Way’s annual fundraising campaign is still going strong. In the last two years, the Community Fund has been oversubscribed by 50 per cent,a reflection of the growing needs in our community. This year, donors can give right up to the end of March, to help close the gap.
“Everyday people in our region are struggling,” said Helen Jackman, executive director of United Way CSO. “We see the visible plight of those who are homeless and quite rightly our community is rallying to help. But, it is all too easy to overlook the challenges faced by the working poor, regular families faced with impossible choices, youth in crisis, or older people living in isolation. We urgently need to build our Community Fund to meet these needs.”
United Way invests every dollar carefully. Working with teams of trained Impact Team volunteers – many from local businesses – to assess every Community Fund application. This process helps ensure that the programs United Way supports respond to identified local needs, and that there is no duplication. Donations are wisely invested in sustainable, healthy charities that provide programs with proven impact. In 2018, United Way helped to improve the lives of 60,000 vulnerable individuals and families through 50 local charities.
“Being a volunteer member of the United Way Impact Teams the past few years has really opened my eyes to the many hidden social issues in our community,” said Jennifer Robins, board of directors vice-chair.
“They are often highly complex issues and United Way helps to bring people together to find solutions. As a mom and donor, I am proud of the process through which each charity’s project is evaluated and every donation carefully stewarded, to ensure that every dollar raised has maximum impact.”
United Way’s 2019 Community Fund is now open for applications from any local registered charity, with a deadline of March 22. Funding decisions will be confirmed in September once the campaign is tallied up and following the careful assessment of Impact Teams.
For more information about funding allocations or the impact of your donations, visit: www.unitedwaycso.com/how-we-help.
Anyone wishing to donate to improve United Way’s impact in the community and improve local lives can do so at www.unitedwaycso.com/donate
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