Local United Way Receives Financial Boost for Poverty Reduction Strategy

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“The overall plan is 5 years.” shared Gary Vipond, CEO, United Way of Sault Ste. Marie & District at a presentation to the community on Wed. Feb. 1st, 2017 at Algoma Water Tower Inn.

Several local businesses, organizations and community members were in attendance to present workplace financial contributions and to learn more about the United Way, Sault Ste. Marie & District’s current direction to reduce poverty in the communities they serve.

“Some of the issues we are trying to address are longer term issues that can’t be solved in a year. In order to make an impact, and make a difference, we have to work at the issues for longer periods of time. That is what the idea of the 5 year plan is. We want to make commitments to our partners.” said Vipond.

The five year plan is called ‘Poverty Reduction Strategy 2017-2022’.

“In our community, several issues crop up. One of the issues we have found is that there are a lot of people in the Sault that would really like to have a job, or a better job.  Sometimes they see a job posted, and don’t feel they have qualifications to apply for the job. People tell us that they would really like to work. One of the things we are working on is to help people gain skills they need to get those jobs; helping individuals to overcome barriers to get the education they need.”

Vipond further stated, “If people don’t have a liveable income, it can be very defeating. Housing availability is another issue we need to address. There are a number of people working to help people find places to live, but with a low vacancy rate, high rents, &/or high utilities cost, there are significant challenges to adequate housing.”

Maureen Dodd, Director of Stakeholder Relations and Public Affairs, United Way SSM & District said, “Today, we wanted to give everyone an opportunity to find out where our campaign has gone as far as fundraising is concerned. We also wanted to recognize our community partners that work so hard to make contributions to our work at the United Way.”

Several cheque presentations were made on behalf of local businesses and organizations.

Campaign Cabinet Chair, Kathleen McFadden stated “The workplace campaigns represented here today are indeed generous. The United Way is embarking down a new path – a new direction. Your donations are particularly important this year because they create a foundation that allows us to build upon. We have raised $872,832.00 towards our campaign for 2017. In order to meet our commitments we still need to raise another 125,000 for 2017.”

McFadden thanked the local businesses and organizations that took up the workplace fundraisng challenge, encouraging them to continue to share the message that more fundraising is still required for 2017.

“We have moved our direction towards strategies.” shared Vipond. “We put together a poverty reduction plan, which was presented to City Council. The plan was approved and endorsed by Council. Over the past few years, at the United Way, we have talked about moving our direction towards strategies. After talking with people in the community, and through research done by Algoma University and the John Howard Society, we were better equipped to put this initiative together.”

“In the Poverty Reduction plan, we are focusing on Essential Services and Workplace Entry.”

Each component has three strategies, as well as numerous community partners involved in support & services delivery. A United Way Outreach Worker will further provide support for the Poverty Reduction Strategy.

Essential Services

Education, Awareness, Information & Referral:

·       Connect with disadvantaged individuals through community hubs and by telephone to provide information regarding community services.

Immediate Needs:

·       Provide one-on-one supports to people with unique needs to identify and address immediate needs.

Emergency and Extraordinary Circumstances:

·       Provide support and assistance to low income community members through referral, direct financial assistance and partnerships.

Work Force Entry.

Barriers to Success:

·       Provide mentoring, tutoring and after school support.

Financial Barriers:

·       Provide financial education or all students; bursaries for students from low income families.

Barriers to Education/Employment:

·       Provide one-on-one support to identify and address barriers to education and employment.

To learn more about ‘Poverty Reduction Strategy 2017 – 2022’, visit: http://ssmunitedway.ca/