Guest blog: Kelly Ziegner on 3M Science Centre

3M Canada serving Harvest Lunch meals

Together we can make a difference against poverty

Kelly Ziegner, photo call out


Kelly Ziegner
President & CEO, United Way Elgin Middlesex

Every Canadian community is affected by poverty.

Poverty is an uncomfortable aspect of society that most of us have come to accept. But for 3.3 million Canadians who live in poverty every day and struggle to pay rent, find work, and feed their children, 1 the reality is unignorable. That’s why United Ways and Centraides across Canada work to give everyone a fair shot at a good life

The metropolitan area of London, Ontario, where United Way Elgin Middlesex operates, is no exception. In the London area, one in five children lives in poverty. 2 Different segments within the local population are disproportionately affected by poverty. This includes seniors (over the age of 65), children and youth who are part of lone-parent families, Indigenous people, visible minorities, and both recent and established immigrants. 3

It is possible to ease the effects of poverty and improve lives, but that success depends on our collective action – by individuals, governments, non-profits and corporations. 

Last year United Way Elgin Middlesex engaged nearly 20,000 donors and volunteers to help sustain a vital social safety net that provides thousands of people—our friends, neighbours, and colleagues—with much needed support year-round.

United Way: our partnership with 3M to improve Canadian communities.

For years, 3M has supported United Way through cash donations and employee volunteers. In the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, 3M donated $5.4 million USD to the United Way’s Worldwide COVID-19 Community Response & Recovery fund – $150,000 USD of which supported United Ways and Centraides in Canada. And in March 2020, 3M Canada stepped up to make a lead corporate donation of $50,000 CAD, starting our local pandemic response fund.

This global and local support has enabled United Way Centraides to mobilize direct help for vulnerable people affected by the pandemic.

By the end of the year, over $1 million from United Way Elgin Middlesex’s Local Love in a Global Crisis fund was working in the community, along with $4.6 million from our annual Community Fund. These grants helped to keep essential programs and services running, as well as scaling up the most critical programs with new technology to replace in-person services. Where in-person services were still required, the grants helped provide PPE to allow services to operate safely. 4

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3M and our employees are committed to building strong, vibrant communities across the country. With non-profit partners such as United Way, we help people in our local communities meet basic needs such as healthy food, safe shelter, and access to critical mental health services.

Penny Wise, President,
3M Canada

Every year, 3M Canada and its employees help launch our local fundraising campaign at 3M Harvest Lunch and United Way Campaign Launch. A 3M sponsored employee works with us full-time each fall to help raise funds and support workplace campaigns across our community. And many 3M employees make regular payroll donations to their local United Way or Centraide organizations across Canada.

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My experience as sponsored employee gave me hope. If it wasn’t for these programs and organizations, people would be in far worse situations. If you have the opportunity to volunteer, do it, don’t even think twice. It will change your perspective.

Diane Piedade,
Events, Hospitality and Corporate Partnerships Manager,
3M Canada

Since 2000, global poverty rates have been cut by more than half. Canada now has the lowest poverty rate in our history and a federal poverty reduction strategy aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. 5 Progress is being made, but, there is still much more work to be done.

I ask you to be a changemaker in your community. Consider getting involved by donating to or volunteering with your local United Way or Centraide.

Through personal and collective action, we will continue to improve lives locally and build communities where everyone matters.

Kelly is a 3M-sponsored contributor. The opinions expressed in the article are those of the author.

This post was originally published on 3M’s Science Centre blog:

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