United Way community agencies are on the frontlines of responding to rising needs and supporting the city’s most vulnerable residents during the pandemic
June 8, 2020 – Today, Mayor John Tory proclaimed June 8 to 12 Community Workers Recognition Week in Toronto, highlighting the critical frontline services community workers are providing across the city amid the current COVID-19 crisis. As the largest non-governmental funder of community services in the GTA, United Way joins the City in recognizing the efforts of frontline community workers.
With our community’s most vulnerable disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, frontline community workers at United Way agencies are redoubling their efforts to ensure that no one in our community gets left behind during this crisis. In the last week of April alone, calls to 211 – a United Way-funded help line connecting people to the social service supports they need – were up 40 percent from the same time last year.
United Way’s vital network of community agencies has been working closely with the City of Toronto since the pandemic began – as the community sector entered a new level of crisis management to meet the needs of Toronto’s most vulnerable residents, the City of Toronto and United Way created the Community Coordination Plan. CCP brings together nearly 400 local community organizations to identify urgent issues and coordinate to implement solutions quickly.
Community workers at United Way agencies have stepped up to meet emergency needs: working tirelessly to deliver food hampers to families, find shelter for those who need it, connect isolated seniors with a friendly voice, and much more. They’re keeping vital programs going, from youth outreach to shelter services to newcomer and family support and beyond.
Each of these frontline community workers are essential, each working harder than ever to help others amidst the pandemic. Just some of the many frontline heroes supporting our most vulnerable neighbours at United Way agencies include:
- Adanna Phillip, Social Supports Manager at CEE Centre for Young Black Professionals usually works to ensure youth in her community are connected with meaningful employment – during the pandemic, she’s also reaching out to ensure they have any resources they need, from food delivery to mental-health supports.
- Ghaidaa Arbash, Syrian Family Support Worker at WoodGreen Community Services, draws on her background as a former pediatrician to support newcomer Syrian families navigate the pandemic, from translation assistance to ensuring their kids are set up for online learning.
- Haydar Shouly, Senior Manager of Shelters and Shelter Programs at Dixon Hall is overseeing the vital work to rehouse shelter clients to ensure their health and safety during the pandemic, in partnership with the City of Toronto.
- Lindsay Kretschmer, Executive Director at Toronto Aboriginal Social Services Association, is working with colleagues in the 18-member organization to pivot from their usual advocacy focus to meeting the immediate needs of the local Indigenous community during the pandemic, including delivering grocery cards and kids’ supplies.
To mark Community Workers Week, United Way of Greater Toronto and the City of Toronto are recognizing the efforts of community service workers and their organizations, profiling examples of their work on the United Way Greater Toronto and City of Toronto social media channels this week. Follow United Way Greater Toronto on all our channels @UWGreaterTO.
Toronto has over 14,000 community-based not-for-profits that employ over 200,000 people (not including volunteers). As the largest investor in social services next to government, United Way supports a network of over 270 of these agencies across Peel, Toronto and York Region. And it’s the frontline community workers at these agencies that helped United Way provide 2.3 million services last year.
In times like these, community matters. The need for support, close to home, has never been so vital. Behind every meal delivered, each reassuring voice on the line, all the efforts to ensure someone has a roof over their head at night, is a community worker. Thank you to all the frontline staff and volunteers in United Way’s network of more than 270 agencies across the region, working tirelessly to ensure the most vulnerable among us get the help they need now.United Way Greater Toronto President & CEO Daniele Zanotti
I want to thank all of our community workers for the important work they do in our city every day and for rising to the challenge to provide vital supports and services to vulnerable people in our city during the pandemic. Your commitment to the people you serve has helped our city’s efforts in navigating this crisis and ensuring that our residents can get through these challenging times. We are so thankful for your dedication to the work that you do. You are ensuring that our residents will get through this pandemic and that our city will come back stronger than ever.Toronto Mayor John Tory
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