To mark a “celebration of connection,” United Way Elgin Middles*x saw the return of its in-person 3M Harvest Luncheon at the launch of its 2023 community campaign on Tuesday.
The event attracted hundreds of community members to RBC Place London after a four-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as Queen Elizabeth II’s Day of Mourning last year.
Kelly Ziegner, president and CEO of United Way Elgin Middles*x, said every ticket purchased for a meal for event attendees will also go toward a meal for a neighbor in need.
“2,400 lunches will be distributed through our network of community-funded agencies,” she said. “Four years seems like an eternity, but you can see the same energy is returning. The community came together and united to once again support their friends and neighbors.
Terry Bowman, national manufacturing manager at 3M Canada, told PKBNEWS the face-to-face aspect of the luncheon is “not only good for the community, but also for the participants.”
“It’s good for them to get their energy back towards fundraising,” he said, emphasizing the importance of volunteering.
“There’s nothing better than face-to-face and after four years it’s really great to come back in this way.”
For those who were unable to attend in person, Ziegner said 10 partner agencies will also use an online-only “pay it forward” model used during the pandemic and which has delivered more than 6,000 meals to those who needed it. through United Way agencies in the region.
Reflecting on the past four years, she said the nonprofit grappled with a “perfect storm of macroeconomic issues that affected local communities.”
“First it was the pandemic, then the rising cost of living and the inflationary pressures that everyone is facing means that people who are living on low incomes or in poverty are really hit hard,” he said. she declared.
“They don’t have enough money at the end of the month to pay rent or buy food, so they’re relying on this network of social service agencies to help provide these additional supports.” »
In working to combat these “growing and widespread problems,” Zeigner said United Way has also committed to investing $6 million through this year’s Community Campaign to support 52 programs in 40 local agencies working to reduce and prevent poverty, meet basic needs and provide housing stability. for more than 65,000 inhabitants.
Mark Egbedeyi-Emmanuel, 2023 campaign chair and general manager of EPCOR in Aylmer, said “this is where donor dollars generate maximum impact.”
“Unless you drive blindly, the need for housing, social services, mental health support, [and] hunger is very transparent,” he told PKBNEWS. “I’ve been a part of United Way for over 20 years in various areas where I’ve lived in Canada…Campaigns like this show you what needs to be done, what those needs are and how United Way works to dissolve them. »
In fashion now
Zeigner added that one of the goals of this year’s campaign is for everyone to come together.
“I challenge everyone to give if you can, to volunteer, to stand up for the issues that matter [because] this goes a long way to supporting the health and wellbeing of our friends and neighbors in our local community.
“These problems that concern the community do not resolve themselves,” continued Egbedeyi-Emmanuel. “We need people to come together, like Kelly [Ziegner] said, unite with us and make sure we can do the right things that can help solve these problems within the community.
Coming back to Bowman, he encourages other school leaders to find a way to host fundraising events.
“You’ll find that it boosts employee engagement and helps the community at the same time,” he said. “Events like this are a kick-off, but it should be a kick-off, not the finish line. [because] It is now more important than ever that our fundraising succeeds.
More information about United Way’s 2023 community campaign is available here.
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