Region #ReUnited for 3M Harvest Lunch and United Way Campaign launch
Amid a backdrop of great music and delicious food-truck fare, hundreds of area residents reunited in person at this year’s 3M Harvest Lunch and United Way Campaign Launch in St. Thomas.
Guests attending the region’s signature gathering for both doing good and sharing good food, helped pay-it-forward as every lunch ticket purchased also bought a healthy meal for a neighbour in need.
After two years as a virtual event, the 3M Harvest Lunch and region-wide United Way Campaign Launch was an opportunity to reconnect, refresh and #ReUnite in person.
“Every donation and every act of kindness, no matter the size, helps ensure United Way funded programs and services are there when our community needs them most.”
“Our annual 3M Harvest Lunch and United Way Campaign Launch is all about connection: with community, with each other, with a shared purpose of building a community where everyone matters,” said Kelly Ziegner, President and CEO of United Way Elgin Middlesex.
“This event is both a celebration of those ties and a call to do even more good.”
The London version of the event, originally scheduled for Sept. 19, was cancelled as Canada marked it a day of mourning for Queen Elizabeth II.
Even so, hundreds of London ticket-buyers paid it forward by converting each purchase into two donated meals for neighbours in need.
About 2,300 neighbour-in-need tickets had been donated by the time of the Campaign launch – bringing the three year total, so far, to more than 8,300 meals for neighbours in need – with more opportunities to give until Sept. 23.
United Way partner agencies will deliver neighbour-in-need meals throughout the region in coming days.
Campaign launch: one in five in this region
Crucially, 3M Harvest Lunch marks the launch of United Way’s the annual Campaign to raise funds for essential social programs and services in our community.
United Way is the largest non-government funder of social services in the region.
About 110,000 people – one in five in this region – benefit directly each year from services provided by United Way partner agencies that reduce and prevent poverty, provide emergency and basic needs, provide safe and affordable housing, and promote social and economic inclusion for all.
They include YWCA St. Thomas-Elgin, which offers a wide range of programs and services to people experiencing poverty, addiction or homelessness.
Apartment vacancy rates in St. Thomas are near zero, said Lindsay Rice, executive director of YWCA St. Thomas-Elgin. For people already living at the margins, she said, YWCA offers supportive, safe spaces. And hope.
Alyson Paisley, the United Way 2022 Campaign Chair and Vice-President Direct Distribution at Intact Financial Corporation, said, “We know the past two years have been especially tough on individuals and families who are already struggling with housing, food and other essentials. And every day, United Way partner agencies are helping thousands of people reconnect relationships, reduce poverty and recover good health.”
“We all have the potential to need help from social services, neighbours and friends,” Paisley said.
“We all have the potential to give help too, whether that’s by making a donation, joining United Way in advocating for issues that matter locally or collaborating with us to make meaningful change.
“I am always so gratified to see how our community steps up for one another,” Paisley added. “Every donation and every act of kindness, no matter the size, helps ensure United Way funded programs and services are there when our community needs them most.”
Through workplace campaigns, fundraising events and individual donations of time and money, United Way donors help build a community where everyone matters.
Paisley and Ziegner expressed their thanks to the hundreds of volunteers, donors, sponsors and workplaces that made the 3M Harvest Lunch & United Way Campaign Launch a success.
Penny Wise, president and managing director of 3M Canada, and a past chair of the United Way Campaign, noted that 3M Canada has been a sponsor of the event for almost 20 years and shares a common goal of ensuring “every person in every community has a fair shot at their best life.”
3M Employees generously donate their time and money every year to support causes in the community, Wise noted. “I’m so proud to lead an organization where employees – who are overcoming their own challenges – are making the time to care for others.”