United Way, By Terry Hearn
Oft asked question reveals there’s truly no such thing as an off season
As the new interim executive director for the United Way of Colchester, friends and colleagues often ask me, “What do you do all day?”
At first I thought this was an odd question, but I learned quickly that many people think of the United Way only in terms of our Kick Off Luncheon and Workplace Campaign that officially runs from mid-September to the end of November.
So, what does the United Way of Colchester do in the “off season”? As it turns out — quite a bit.
Throughout the year we engage in activities guided by our mission to improve lives and build community. These activities, influenced by our call to action (Give, Volunteer, Act) include:
• giving by supporting programs in our focus areas;
• volunteering by encouraging volunteerism in our community; and
• acting by bringing awareness and advocacy to promote change.
Three times a year funding applications are received from local charities and nonprofits. Our Investment Committee ensures funding is carried out in the spirit of stewardship and recommends allocation of funds to our board in a manner that supports our mission. In 2013 and 2014 we funded 16 programs or impact grants to 11 organizations throughout Colchester.
In late spring and throughout the summer, we promote and coordinate two programs that help kids be all they can be:
- • Our Bikes for Kids program collects gently-used bikes from the community. Our staff and handy volunteers fix the bikes and, along with a new helmet, give them to children who wouldn’t be able to afford one. Last year, as a result of the program, 70 children throughout Colchester were able to enjoy biking with their friends and family.
- • The Back to School campaign helps families that can’t afford the costs associated with students heading back to school. In partnership with three community groups, we collect new school supplies and financial donations and support more than 350 families.
We work closely with the Colchester Volunteer Network, whose vision is to see Colchester as a place where volunteers of all ages and abilities are informed, engaged, valued, celebrated and supported. The United Way works with the Network to organize workshops for volunteers, as well as an annual Volunteer Fair. This year’s fair is planned for Sept. 27 at the Truro Fire Hall.
Working with our community partners, we collaborate to build awareness and influence change on a number of important issues, including poverty, homelessness, basic human needs and social and health-related matters.
We work with the Colchester Anti-Poverty Network, which is made up of a dedicated group of local individuals and organizations working together to eliminate poverty. Additionally, we’re part of Colchester Partners, which consists of more than 20 not-for-profit and governmental agencies that work with children and youth in Colchester County.
We’ve worked together on a number of projects, such as creating a Helping Tree for Children and Youth Services in Colchester.
We’re currently involved in a recreation needs assessment for families where cost is a barrier, looking at ways to make recreation more accessible for everyone.
Our New “Give, Volunteer, Act” Initiative
In addition to our annual workplace campaign, we’re launching a new fundraising initiative called: Colchester Women United – Day of Caring. Teams of women will raise funds we will Give through our Impact Grants, they will Volunteer in a Day of Caring and by their Actions they will bring awareness and help promote change.
At the United Way of Colchester we’re busy all year creating opportunities for a better life for everyone in our communities. I’ve quickly learned there’s no “off-season” at the United Way! To find out more visit www.colchester.unitedway.ca or Like us on Facebook at United Way of Colchester County.
Terry Hearn is theexecutive director of the United Wayof Colchester County. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.