It’s been a year chock-full of inspirational volunteers: the community mobilizers, Campaign champions and over-all caring citizens who take action, inspire their colleagues and make a difference where we live and work.
And on May 25, United Way and presenting sponsor Scotiabank honoured these ChangeMakers – and the success of the 2022-2023 Community Campaign – in a celebration of people who lend their time and talents to make good things happen locally.
“It’s so fitting that a heart and hand are central to United Way’s identity because that’s also how I visualize all of our volunteers – as big-hearted people who are moved to extend help wherever and whenever it is needed,” said outgoing Campaign chair Alyson Paisley, who also gave shout-out to supportive volunteers’ families and workplaces.
“Folks in this room collectively gave thousands of hours of their time and expertise,” Paisley told the crowd of approximately 130 people. “The common element through each of our diverse experiences is this: We care for people who live in this community.”
The event honoured 11 individuals and workplaces who went above and beyond in 2022.
They include Melissa MacLean, a first-time workplace Champion at IG Wealth Management who motivated her colleagues to increase their giving by 84 per cent; and Rosie White of Compass Canada, whose nominators noted her kindness towards everyone she met at the till of LHSC’s cafeteria.
Paisley, who is vice-president of direct distribution at Intact Financial Services, commended the generous volunteers, donors and community partners who inspired her throughout her year as Campaign chair with their “daily reminders of the power of community.”
She introduced the new United Way 2023 Community Campaign cabinet and Mark Egbedeyi-Emmanuel as 2023 Community Campaign chair.
Egbedeyi-Emmanuel is general manager of natural gas at EPCOR based in Aylmer and is the first Community Campaign chair from Elgin County since United Ways in London Middlesex and Elgin St. Thomas unified to become United Way Elgin Middlesex in 2016.
“Everywhere I have gone in my life and my career, I’ve asked myself, how do I effect change? How do we tackle community issues together? How can each of us make this a better place for everybody?” Egbedeyi-Emmanuel said.
“These things don’t happen by themselves. They happen with people being involved.”
He added, “I have also been very fortunate to be working for an organization that believes in and supports their employees’ involvement within the community.”
Joan Fernandez, the Lifetime Achievement award-winner who has volunteered through her employer for more than two decades, noted the importance of finding purpose and meaning in giving to others. “How much of a difference kindness can make,” she said.
Kelly Ziegner, United Way president and CEO, described volunteers as “the lifeblood of this region … people who tirelessly, boldly, enthusiastically, give your time and energy because you believe this is a community where everyone deserves a fair shot at a good life.”
The United Way 2022 Community Campaign wrapped up March 31, 2023. In total, donor generosity will translate this year to $6 million disbursed in grants and other investments more than 50 projects and programs at 43 local service agencies to facilitate their work in reducing and preventing poverty.
The official 2023 Community Campaign launch, together with United Way’s annual 3M Harvest Lunch is scheduled to take place in London on Sept.19 at RBC Place (London’s convention centre downtown, on York Street) and in St. Thomas on Sept. 21 at Horton Street Farmers’ Market.