United Way Centraide North East Ontario's goals and desired outcomes remain unchanged, but during the organization's Sept. 19 campaign launch, it became clear there's a visible shift in how they're going to get there.
In years past, the campaign launch has been an event where the organization takes a look back at the past year, thanking partner organizations and highlighting how many people have been helped and how much money has been raised, while mapping out the path for the year to come.
The goals of helping those in need has not changed, but the organization is looking to shine a spotlight on the specific issues affecting the community and making them "unignorable.”
"It's important for people to understand what value the United Way brings to the community," said Shelley Lachapelle, interim executive director UWCNEO. "Poverty, homelessness, social isolation, these are things that are all happening in our community, and we're working to address the root causes and help people understand these issues."
United Way welcomed guest speakers Marlene Gorman of the YWCA, John Rimore of the John Howard Society and Cory Roslyn of the Elizabeth Fry Society, a trio of community organizations that help some of the city's most vulnerable citizens.
"Our work is to give these community members, our community members, safety from the dangers of living on the street,” Rimore said.
“Stable housing is the keystone for stability in life; stability in life gives people a chance at better economic and social opportunities. Behind every changed life is someone who made it happen, great people like yourselves."
The United Way has long existed as an umbrella that helps fund the organizations that are working on the front lines to stem the tide of issues like poverty, domestic violence, addiction and homelessness - issues that are present in cities across the country.
This year's UWCNEO campaign is aimed more at bringing the city's issues to the forefront and rallying the community to dig in and help.
"These are issues that are affecting people in all corners of our community," said Lachapelle. "These are not someone else's problems, we own them. Our goal this year is far greater than a dollar amount but to bring people together and working to help people understand that this is happening in their community."
Lachappelle stressed that the United Way is much more than just fundraisers, but a resource that helps bring people together to learn about what's happening in their hometown and what they can do to help out.
"We encourage people to learn more about what we're doing locally," said Lachapelle. "We want to help people understand what it is we do. We are about solving local problems in partnership with other organizations. So we encourage people to learn about what we're doing and if it aligns with what the believe in and the difference they want to make in the community."
You can learn more about United Way Centraide North East Ontario by visiting the organization's website, uwcneo.com, or their Facebook page.