A Message from UWSM CEO, Dale Biddell

While these are extraordinary times, how often in just the last week have you taken note of people doing extraordinary things? And while it will take time for us all to become accustomed to living life this way, it isn’t taking long for us to demonstrate that we are thinking about others. Because not everyone is going to be able to weather the challenges that COVID-19 is putting in front of us in the same way.

We know that older residents in our community are going to be impacted by greater social isolation. Their familiar get-together places have closed and their networks will shrink, which will increase the help they may need.

Mental health challenges often increase in reaction to major events, and the global uncertainty and relentless news cycle that is focusing on the resulting dire circumstances can add extra weight to that burden, both for individuals and collectively.

Those unable to call one place home are even more vulnerable, as organizations scramble to locate additional spaces in order to comply with social distancing.

To help ease their anxiety, children and youth need reassurance and messaging that will help them to understand that they can live their lives differently for the time being.

We all need our social networks and to feel we can reach out to one another. We are being distanced physically while we follow all the guidelines that will inhibit the spread of this disease. But we must not stop socially interacting in safe ways.

What is our United Way doing to help to ensure that we all stay connected? First, we acknowledge that no single organization can keep a whole community connected, especially in a crisis. So, we are reaching out to all our community partners and our municipalities to take stock of what is being done and where there are gaps. We want to ensure that we don’t duplicate efforts – we want to align with them, bring more value to them or focus on where there are gaps.

Next, we will ensure that we are another source of information for those community resources and connections, so people know where to turn. Our information will be easy to find, and we have been updating our website regularly and will continue to do so.

A challenge of this nature needs financial resources to draw upon. We have two funds that we welcome your support for, if you are able to give. Our Urgent Needs Fund addresses the challenges that face those that are vulnerable every day. And the COVID-19 Fund addresses the challenges brought about by the impacts of the novel coronavirus that more Simcoe Muskoka residents are facing every day.

Finally, all our staff, while working remotely, are working and communicating across our communities in multiple ways – please reach out if you have a question, an idea or a comment – we need everyone working and thinking together; our innately human desire is to want to contribute. Our staff directory will let you get in touch with all of us. Be well.


Dale Biddell

CEO, United Way Simcoe Muskoka