2023 Sponsored Employees

We are grateful for Sponsored Employees, and for supportive workplaces that pay their salaries while they are seconded to United Way Elgin Middlesex for four months.

Each year, a new group of sponsored employees learns about the community, helps with United Way’s annual Campaign and develops leadership skills to use in their workplaces and communities.

Meet the 2023 Sponsored Employees

Emily Vogel, Canada Life 2023 Sponsored Employee

Emily Vogel

Canada Life, 2023 Sponsored Employee

What do you enjoy most about being a sponsored employee?   

It is eye-opening and inspiring to work with an agency that makes real change. I enjoy inspiring and motivating various workplace campaigns, and helping them understand the direct impact of their investment.

As a Canada Life case manager and social-work student, I am interested and invested in social-justice issues. I want to learn more about our community and what supports are available – and what supports are missing – for those who need it most.

Living and working in downtown London, I see the need every single day, and I’ve seen it grow over time. That has influenced my passion to help mould a better community.

One thing people might not know about United Way…

All money raised locally stays local, and United Way considers each community’s priorities along with the region’s greatest needs. All this information is publicly available. It can be rewarding to see what your individual donation can do specifically within the community, but also what collective investments can do locally.

Sydney Joao, Western University 2023 Sponsored Employee

Sydney Joao

Western University, 2023 Sponsored Employee

Why are you involved in United Way and other community causes?

I believe we have a collective responsibility to be involved in the communities we live in, and to be engaged in helping people succeed. A healthy society is one where everyone contributes to its well-being and vibrancy, and I’m reminded of Mohammed Ali, who said, ‘Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.’

Giving back is part of my personal and family ethos, and United Way embodies a lot of the core values of social justice and advocacy that I grew up with.

What most surprises you about the work you do with United Way?

I didn’t fully realize how interconnected United Way is in the community, with staff and volunteers who serve on different boards, listen to the community and represent to different levels of government. They’re not just trying to meet short-term needs but are also working to long-term solutions.”

Samantha Hoggard, 2023 Sponsored Employee

Samantha Hoggard

2023 Sponsored Employee

What’s your personal connection to United Way?

My grandparents used Meals on Wheels, a United Way-supported service, when they needed a little extra help. They’re so devoted to each other, so this bit of support meant they could stay home and stay together.

My big ‘aha’ moment came this year when I learned that Youth Opportunities Unlimited, which is also supported by United Way, provides young people with various life skills and career paths – and some of the food they prepare is distributed through Meals on Wheels.

It was a full-circle moment that showed me how connected United Way is to the community: people who need help get help, and they often go on to help others.

What has been the biggest revelation since you’ve been seconded to United Way?

I’ve volunteered with a lot of organizations, but I don’t think I’ve seen the bigger picture of needs in the community until now. Working with United Way is different – they’re at all the policy tables and they know the big picture so they can address local needs in a more co-ordinated way.

I’ve also discovered I can do public speaking. It’s a bit nerve-racking, but it’s a big thing in terms of professional development.

Patrick Abure, Huron University College at Western University

Patrick Abure

Huron University College at Western University, 2023 Sponsored Employee

Why did you want to be a sponsored employee?

A kind woman saved me from homelessness and abuse at 13 years old. As a sponsored employee, I wanted to use my skills and network to support children and families experiencing homelessness in rewriting their stories and help ensure their chapters of homelessness, abuse and depression are short.

What’s the best thing you’ve learned about United Way/the community so far?

Communities supported by United Way often have heartwarming stories of random acts of kindness. From giving a warm smile to individuals experiencing homelessness, to surprising children with unexpected Christmas presents that light up their lives with so much joy. These acts of kindness touch my heart and remind me of the goodness in our community.

Why should people give to United Way?

United Way deeply understands the needs of our community and has a reputation for efficiently managing and allocating funds where they are needed most in our community to the most effective programs and organizations.

Georgiana Slack, St. Joseph’s Health Care London, 2023 Sponsored Employee

Georgiana Slack

St. Joseph’s Health Care London, 2023 Sponsored Employee

Why did you apply to become a Sponsored Employee?

I wanted to develop my skills related to my volunteer-management education: develop more tech tools, learn more about recruitment and retention, and understand how to build and keep relationships in an organization.

I’m also relatively new to London and, having volunteered for neighbours-in-need through my church in Mississauga, I wanted to learn the needs of the community here and where I might contribute.

What has resonated with you most so far?

I’ve been surprised at the range of programs United Way supports with investments and advocacy. Type Diabeat-IT, a community program that helps racialized Londoners prevent and manage diabetes, resonates with me because my grandmother, mom and aunt all have diabetes.

To someone wondering if they should get involved in the community, I’d say, people need people, and we all can take a moment to think about different ways to engage with neighbours who might need us.

Juliana Irving, City of London, 2023 Sponsored Employee

Juliana Irving

City of London, 2023 Sponsored Employee

Why did you apply to become a sponsored employee?

I’ve done some volunteering and I figure I already work for the community, so to get that broader work experience appealed to me.

What’s one thing you wish more people knew about United Way?

I’ve learned United Way is more than a ‘middleman’. United Way takes the pressure off agencies to fundraise. United Way provides agencies with resources so they can focus on doing what they do best, which is giving the best service possible to the people they help.

When you return to your ‘regular’ job, what skills will you bring back?

I think I’ll feel more confident in taking more initiative in projects. I can think on my feet and stand on my own more than I did, and that makes me a more well-rounded person and an employee who is better equipped to lead.

Arjun Bhardwaj, Fanshawe College, 2023 Sponsored Employee

Arjun Bhardwaj

Fanshawe College, 2023 Sponsored Employee

Why did you apply to become a sponsored employee?

Sponsored employees from Fanshawe have all said so many positive things about the experience, I wanted to give it my best effort to make a difference too.

What have you learned about the community?

I used to hear stories about individuals who are unhoused and I never paid attention. When you’re walking around or taking a bus, you have your head down and you really don’t see much of what’s happening around you. And you definitely don’t engage.

Then when we went to the Unity Project and I saw the number of unhoused people they serve, it shook me. Now I see London in a way I hadn’t seen it before: both the need and the incredible generosity. I have a different attitude, a different perspective.

Rebecca Hosie, TD Canada Trust, 2023 Sponsored Employee

Rebecca Hosie

TD Canada Trust, 2023 Sponsored Employee

What is your personal connection to United Way-funded agencies? 

When I first came to Canada five years ago, I discovered newcomer services at LUSO Community Services and Northwest London Resource Centre. When you enter a neighbourhood centre with one need, you find out about all sorts of things that go on in your community and you get connected to people through them. 

What do you wish you’d known about United Way before this? 

United Way isn’t just a charity to give to – it’s also a movement that makes change happen. Chances are pretty good that any agency you rely on, United Way is involved even if you don’t realize it. 

How does being a sponsored employee help you and your workplace? 

I am working towards a new role, and professional development is a huge part of that: making presentations concisely and persuasively, mentoring people, and honouring people’s time and expertise. Being a sponsored employee means building your brand – for United Way, your company and yourself. 

Justis York-Clark, McCormick Canada, 2023 Sponsored Employee

Justis York-Clark

McCormick Canada, 2023 Sponsored Employee

What convinced you to become a sponsored employee? 

Last year’s Sponsored Employee from McCormick, Mark, is my crew leader and he had nothing but good things to say about the experience. You get to help a lot of people and do some fundraising and build real connections with people from all different sectors. 

What’s behind your drive for community? 

When I was about nine or 10, my mom was laid off and we didn’t have much. She told me not to expect Christmas presents that year, and then, one day, a local church group showed up with armloads of gifts, including a Christmas tree with lights. It showed me that one act of kindness can go a long way.  

What’s one United Way fact you wish more people knew? 

The number of charities United Way helps. With one donation you can help youth, a women’s shelter, people experiencing homelessness, and so many more. A dollar donated to United Way goes a lot further.  And it all stays 100% local.

Lagan Kansal, RBC, 2023 Sponsored Employee

Lagan Kansal

RBC Royal Bank , 2023 Sponsored Employee

What’s been the most memorable moment so far in your time at United Way? 

During a community walk as part of our orientation, we visited My Sisters’ Place, which is a United Way-supported drop-in centre. I saw people coming in to access fresh food, laundry machines, washrooms and other essentials. It was encouraging to see and hear how the agency was meeting critical needs for people who are living rough. 

What else has resonated with you?  

There are so many supports locally, yet still so many gaps to fill. Someone in my close circle is going through tough times and I’m struck by how important it is to have good mental health care and a diverse range of social services. 

Through donors’ generosity, United Way does the development work to support dozens of programs and services, so that these agencies can focus on doing all the awesome work they’re good at.

Daylon Steinback, General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada, 2023 Sponsored Employee

Daylon Steinback

General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada, 2023 Sponsored Employee

Why is United Way important to you? 

The Boys’ and Girls’ Club and Vanier Children’s Services are where I found friendships and belonging as a kid, and they played a big part in my growing up. I didn’t even realize until I became a sponsored employee that they were United Way-supported agencies. I just knew they were important to me. I want to make sure other kids get the same benefit I had. 

Why support United Way?  

United Way supports programs that revolve around important things: the fight to end poverty, housing stability and good mental health, which I believe should be considered a basic need as much as food and clothing. 

People may not realize that organizations they visit on a regular basis are funded by United Way. Life is all about helping each other, and donors are part of the solution when they give to United Way.  

Any surprises about the role of sponsored employee? 

If you had asked me a year ago, I wouldn’t have dreamed I’d be in the role I’m in now.  I’m grateful to work for an organization that values community responsibility and provides opportunities for professional development. I can have conversations with CEOs and people on the shop floor and feel equally comfortable. We’re all people.

#United, we give everyone a fair shot at a good life.

Dakota HalfpennyMeet our Sponsored Employees