United Way Simcoe Muskoka celebrates 60 years of #LocalLove

six hands holding each other by the wrist in a circle

United Way Simcoe Muskoka celebrates 60 years of #LocalLove

Sixty years ago, John Diefenbaker was Prime Minister of Canada, Fidel Castro rose to power in Cuba, and Doris Day and Frank Sinatra were big stars. That same year, United Way came to Simcoe County as Barrie United Appeal.

The political and cultural leaders of 1959 have faded into the past, but United Way is still on the job, building a new future for citizens by tackling poverty head-on.

When our local United Way began, the average worker made $5,000 a year and houses cost, on average, $12,400. Today, wages have risen but “the good life” is beyond the reach of far too many.

“Simcoe Muskoka has grown tremendously and prospered thanks to a diversified economy and the growth of tourism, yet too many people across our region are challenged by poverty. It affects their ability to feed their families and find affordable housing,” said Dale Biddell, CEO at United Way Simcoe Muskoka (UWSM). “Their struggle affects us all.”

For six decades, local residents and businesses have trusted UWSM to find solutions to social problems.

“Today, our strategy is to deliver impact through multi-year funding for community partnerships of at least three organizations who pool resources and build programs together,” said Biddell.

“By working with local agencies, we can tailor programs to meet local needs. We are seeing a great impact with this approach through collaborative projects such as Independent Living Services of Simcoe County & Area’s Accessibility Resource Centre, the development of the Clearview Youth Centre and the OPP and Collingwood General and Marine Hospital’s Mobile Health Response Unit.

“Over the years, United Way programs have changed based on social research, local needs and community collaborations. The issues are complicated but it’s simple to make a difference when we work together,” added the CEO. Corporate and individual donors can now participate online, hear about the impact of UWSM programs on social media platforms and learn about the impact of their donations.

“We are not standing still. We are actively adapting and building on 60 years of local solutions for local social problems,” said Biddell.

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