17 Dec 12 Years of Local Love – A Message From UWSM’s Outgoing Board Chair
Seasons Greetings! As we enter the holiday season, when we focus on giving and the joy of family and friends, I feel especially proud of the great work of United Way Simcoe Muskoka – helping people have better lives, every day. I know I share with many the passion to be even more generous at this time of year! For my family, my gift to them is a donation to United Way Simcoe Muskoka in their names.
When I moved to Collingwood with my family 30 years ago, one of the ways United Way raised money was by asking people to stick their loose change onto a tape stretching the five blocks of Collingwood’s downtown. This happened every Saturday during summer and fall. What a memorable grassroots effort that engaged the community and drew attention to local needs!
Over the years, fundraising methods have changed but United Way has remained steadfast in its devotion to meeting local needs. That focus is captured in our slogan: “Local love improving local lives.”
Today, more than 60,000 people live in poverty in Simcoe Muskoka. United Way plays as important a role as ever, as it is the largest funder of social programs outside of government services across Simcoe County and the District of Muskoka.
Within the United Way movement in Canada, Simcoe Muskoka is one of 85 independent agencies. While it is a mid-sized chapter, it is punching above its weight thanks to strong leadership, strategic planning and innovative approaches to reaching donors. We have a depth of experience that is benefitting other United Way organizations, who are learning from our example and adopting methods to be more efficient in an increasingly competitive fundraising environment. During my twelve years with the organization, we have amalgamated smaller local branches to form a stronger regional organization and embraced new technology to spread our message and manage donations to maximum effect.
I have seen United Way Simcoe Muskoka support so many pressing needs in our communities – helping seniors live independently in their homes, partnering with other agencies to address mental health issues and supporting programs that give young people a focus. Recently, United Way Simcoe Muskoka helped launch a youth center in Clearview to give teens a safe place to gather and learn rather than idly hanging out without programs to tap their energies. United Way Simcoe Muskoka was the community catalyst in Clearview by bringing several agencies together to make this happen. Now this pilot project has been adopted by the municipality and has gained stable funding to meet the needs of youth in the future.
United Way Simcoe Muskoka has been making good things happen for 60 years across the communities of Collingwood and The Blue Mountains, Simcoe County and Muskoka. There are wonderful opportunities ahead to turn local love into local change. United Way Simcoe Muskoka is as much a force of positive social change at the age of 60 as it has ever been.
During my tenure as chair and a twelve-year volunteer, I have been richly rewarded with a tapestry of experiences. Thank you to the many dedicated volunteers who gave their time and worked alongside our excellent CEO Dale Biddell and our supremely dedicated staff. As an organization, and for me as board chair, we could not have been better served – THANK YOU.
I will be watching the growth of our United Way with keen interest as it continues improving the lives of those in need. And I’ll always be a passionate United Way Simcoe Muskoka supporter!
About the Author
Catherine Campbell has served for 12 years on the UWSM Board, with five of those as Chair of the Board. Sheis also a proud member of Women United. Catherine retired from the Ontario Public Service, having served as a community development consultant and managed grant programs for over 40 years.