united way spirit awards


united way spirit awards

What does sipping a cup of tea have to do with manufacturing a car? In Simcoe Muskoka last year, they were both community-building activities.

Blue Mountain Tea Company opened in Collingwood’s historic downtown two years ago with a pledge to earmark 1% of its profits to charity. In November 2017, the shop became one of the most recent business supporters of United Way Simcoe Muskoka (UWSM).

In Alliston, Honda of Canada Manufacturing continued its long-time commitment to community-based programs and services through UWSM with a gift that had its donation total top $150K in the last three years alone.

With no government funding to boost the financial resources of our Community Fund, which provides program grants to local social service charities, UWSM relies solely on donations from our community, for our community. In 2016/2017, 83.5% of our fundraising total came from the employees and leaders of our 175+ workplace partners.


When taking a quick peek at the donations received with thanks by UWSM from organizations across our region, it can be easy to visualize a series of faceless business transactions. Nothing could be further than the truth.

The life-changing power of United Way Simcoe Muskoka comes from people like you.

From Huntsville to Bradford and Thornbury to Brechin, residents of Simcoe Muskoka contribute to the wellbeing of their friends, neighbours and loved ones through UWSM. They know their donations will be reinvested in our region to help reduce poverty, support local children and youth, and ensure everyone has the chance to lead their best lives.

Did you know the seat belt webbing in your car was likely crafted in Collingwood? Plant workers at VOA Canada create a quality product that’s in high demand across North America – about 120 million meters of it, according to a newspaper article published in 2016 commemorating the manufacturers’ 20-year anniversary.

In addition to her duties as VOA’s Payroll Benefits Coordinator, Pauline Dale also organizes the company’s annual United Way campaign. With help from UWSM Senior Relationship Manager Paulina Robertson, Pauline furthers her colleague’s education about our region’s social challenges and how their support can change local lives.

Michelle, for example, was barely a teenager when she fled an abusive home situation to take her chances on her own. About 80% of those who turn to the Barrie-based shelter Youth Haven for help from all parts of Simcoe Muskoka are escaping dangerous situations, including domestic violence, neglect, physical and sexual abuse.

In a terrifying journey that took her to the Maritimes and back, Michelle entered a world of drugs and exploitation before making her way to Youth Haven and accessing its many services – including the life skills program funded by employees at VOA Canada and other United Way Simcoe Muskoka donors.

With the help of VOA and other UWSM supporters, Michelle and many other teenagers found hope and help as they transitioned into adulthood.

Our donors also help thousands across our region who are experiencing poverty, isolation and mental health challenges. Click here for more UWSM Smile Stories. They’re the reason to care and the #ReasonToGive.

For her dedication to her community, VOA Canada’s Pauline Dale has been nominated for a 2018 Spirit Award in the category of Employee Campaign Chair of the Year.

Representing workplaces that span sectors, other 2018 nominees in this category include:

  • Brittany Donor-Gilroy (County of Simcoe)
  • Captain Marc-Andre Duguay (Canadian Forces Base Borden)
  • Gabriel Fleisher (Canada Revenue Agency)
  • Shannon Griffis (Deluxe Corporation)
  • Vicky Hartin (Costco Wholesale Orillia)
  • Inspector Ed Kodis (Ontario Provincial Police)
  • Ann Landry (District of Muskoka)
  • Paul O’Connor (Kumi Canada)
  • Kevin Thompson (Union Gas)
  • Michelle Winniski (Enbridge Gas Distribution)


The 44 individuals and workplaces nominated for Spirit Awards in 2018, represent hundreds of employees, business owners and corporate leaders who volunteer their time, energy, expertise and resources to make local communities nurturing and inclusive homes for all residents to thrive.

Through payroll-deduction donations, special events, corporate gifts and employee matching grants, these individuals help make United Way Simcoe Muskoka the #1 non-government funder of social services in our region. They know our research informs funding decisions so their donations reach those who need it most.

We send a special welcome and thanks to those workplaces across the District of Muskoka who have joined us since 2016, when we became a truly regional organization.


Please take a moment to read the full list of Spirit Awards nominees, and help us congratulate this year’s award recipients. They are all community heroes.

If you’d like your workplace to join the United Way Simcoe Muskoka corporate community, please contact:

Mary Thomas, UWSM Director of Strategic Development

705-726-2301, x2026 or

If you’d like to make an individual donation, please click here.

As always, your UWSM donation remains 100% local.

Local giving. Local results.

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