After two years of pandemic events, United Way’s annual ChangeMakers Awards celebration happened live and in person last night. Over 100 people gathered safely at LiUNA Local 1059 to celebrate the success of the United Way 2021-22 fundraising campaign, and the incredible volunteers who made it happen.
“It’s so exciting to gather together and celebrate the people at the heart of our fundraising campaign,” said Penny Wise, President, 3M Canada and United Way 2021 Campaign Chair. “Throughout the challenges of the last year, our volunteers continued to step up to help their neighbours with United Way. I am proud to recognize those who went above and beyond to be real ChangeMakers for our community!”
Even though in-person gatherings and fundraising events took a back seat during the pandemic, United Way Champions—volunteers who coordinate fundraising campaigns in workplaces—never went away.
Thousands worked tirelessly at local businesses, schools, manufacturing plants, non-profits and other workplaces to rally co-workers and raise millions of dollars to fund programs and services that help meet urgent needs in our community.
Heather Dobbin, Middlesex Hospital Alliance, is just one of them. Dobbin rallied her colleagues to participate in an array of activities, raising an additional 89% over last year’s campaign and increasing total dollars raised from special events. Dobbin won the Outstanding Champion – Large Workplace Award for many years of hard work raising dollars and awareness for United Way funded programs and services in Strathroy and Middlesex County.
Tonight’s ChangeMakers Awards also recognized award recipients from the United Way 2019-20 and 2020-21 Campaigns who celebrated virtually due to pandemic restrictions.
“In life there are some moments that leave you speechless,” said Joan Fernandez from Ernst & Young, who experienced a tearful moment of gratitude when she found out she’d won the Outstanding Workplace Champion – Medium Workplace Award.
“Me and my family came with very little to this country,” Fernandez continued. “But two decades later, we are grateful to Canada, to the City of London and to organizations such as United Way for its programs that make a huge difference in the community, one person at a time.”
Passing the torch
United Way’s annual ChangeMakers Awards also signals the passing of the torch from one top Campaign volunteer to the next.
Alyson Paisley, VP, Direct Distribution, Intact Financial Corporation is stepping up as the United Way 2022 Campaign Chair. Paisley and her Campaign Cabinet team of 12 volunteers from across the region had their first meeting last week. Each year, a new group of volunteers partners with United Way staff and sponsored employees to help make the annual region-wide fundraising campaign a success.
Work behind the scenes has started for this year’s 3M Harvest Lunch & United Way Campaign Launch, happening in person on September 19 in London’s Victoria Park and September 22 at the Horton Street Market in St. Thomas.
“I’m honored, excited and a little daunted to take on this huge role,” Paisley said. “But I have every confidence in my Campaign team, our workplace Champions and the thousands of generous people across our region who I know will step up with me to help United Way meet the most urgent needs in our community. There’s a changemaker in each of us.”
The United Way 2021 Campaign wrapped up March 31, 2022. In total, $6.65 million in Community Fund grants and other investments is at work in our community to reduce and prevent poverty, including $4.65 million in program grants at 43 local social service agencies, and an additional $100,000 in short-term project grants.
Learn more about United Way’s investments here