My Journey So Far

My Journey So Far

Today marks one month since I joined the team at United Way Simcoe Muskoka. 

It has been four weeks of listening and learning; I want to thank all those who have supported me in ‚Äúlistening journey‚ÄĚ as I come to understand how we as United Way work with our partners to deliver on our mission and vision.

In my earlier blog post, I spoke to the sheer volume of people served by the United Way each year as something that attracted me to the role of Chief Executive and Philanthropy Officer. I want to expand on this point, and share some of what I have learned over the past month about the programs we deliver and – perhaps more importantly – why we deliver them.

Brian Shelley

Keeping the Lights On 

Many members of our community must choose between paying rent, feeding their family, and paying gas or electricity bills. ‚ÄúEnergy poverty‚ÄĚ has been increasing across the communities we serve; in particular, this is an even greater issue among racialized households. Through United Way Simcoe Muskoka‚Äôs call centre, we are addressing this issue by connecting low-income households with financial supports so that they can keep the lights to meet basic necessities of life. ‚ÄĮ¬†

Removing Barriers to Resources 

Access to resources is one of the greatest hurdles facing those experiencing poverty; throughout the pandemic, the move to digital delivery has made accessing services (such as healthcare, education, and other supports) even more challenging. Through United Way Simcoe Muskoka’s regional partnerships with various local agencies and 211 across the province, we are helping to create equitable and dignified access to food, stable housing, mental health supports, healthcare, employment opportunities, and education.  

Providing Financial Supports in Time of Crisis 

Despite society‚Äôs best efforts to provide a strong social safety net, there are times when at-risk members of our community simply fall through the cracks. Since its launch in 2019, almost 1,500 individuals have accessed a micro grant through United Way Simcoe Muskoka‚Äôs Urgent Needs Fund. This fund, delivered in partnership with 211, provides individuals across our community with more than just money ‚Äď we are providing hope and dignity at a time when it is needed most¬†

Creating Access to Housing

Many communities struggle with unacceptable levels of homelessness made worse by the limited supply, poor quality, and lack of transitional and deeply affordable housing options. These issues are amplified by the inequities experienced by those living in rural and remote communities. Through the United Way’s administration of the Federal Government’s Reaching Home initiative, we are providing housing and supports to those experiencing homelessness in rural areas within our catchment area. 

I am incredibly proud of the work that United Way Simcoe Muskoka and our partners are doing to address social inclusion and poverty reduction.

But we can’t do it alone.

And we want to do more. 

To do that, we need your support.

Please consider making a donation to United Way Simcoe Muskoka, because when we work together on important community issues, the results are game-changing.  

Bria n Shelley
Brian Shelley
Chief Executive & Philanthropy Officer
United Way Simcoe Muskoka

P.S.  If you would like to reach out to me directly with questions or topics you would like me to discuss as part of this blog, I invite you to drop me an email at  

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