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Celebrating Black History this February, and Forever

February 26, 2022 by United Way Greater Toronto

Illustration with #BHM2022

Recognizing, elevating, and supporting Black-led and Black-serving organizations

Dear Friend,

As we near the end of Black History Month, I’m reminded again of this year’s theme: February and Forever: Celebrating Black History today and every day. While the spotlight will pan to the next awareness day or recognition month, we can and must continue to hold space for multiple equity-deserving communities at once – to highlight their achievements, listen to and work with them year-round to build a region that is great for all.

Over the past two years we have been listening to Black and racialized communities we work with tell us that they’ve been hit particularly hard by the pandemic and have not rebounded as quickly from its impacts as other communities. A new study by the Canadian Medical Association Journal has once again supported what we’ve been hearing: cases in the first year of the pandemic were concentrated in areas with low incomes and education levels, and a high concentration of racialized people, recent immigrants, and essential workers.

And in the midst of this, every day we have witnessed the power of community to care – neighbours, local groups, and agencies coming together to find local solutions. Coordination tables like our Black Resilience Cluster, which has led a community-based emergency response of more than 50 Black-serving non-profit and grassroot members in support of African, Caribbean and Black communities in Toronto. Organizations like Black Creek Community Health Centre and Rexdale Community Health Centre hiring local residents for targeted door-to-door outreach, pop-up testing and micro vaccination sites.

United Way’s success has long been predicated on harnessing the power of community. Every day. Even before the research and analysis can catch up. And our success going forward will be predicated in holding space for multiple equity deserving communities at once – and doing so in a united way.

Always, and only, thank you.

Daniele Zanotti
President & CEO
United Way Greater Toronto

Things to Know Right Now

Two aging high-rises in the GTA

Affordable Housing

The Ontario Housing Affordability Task Force has delivered its much-anticipated report outlining 55 recommendations for addressing the high cost of housing – which has tripled over the last decade. At United Way, the focus has always been on ensuring that housing is safe, secure and adequate for low-income households. It is at this juncture that the housing crisis converges with other social and structural inequities, and it is here that we must resolve them if we are truly to have an equitable recovery. That’s why United Way took a leadership role last month, convening more than 75 United Ways and other organizations to write an Open Letter outlining 10 recommendations for participants at the provincial-municipal housing summit. We will continue to advocate for systems-level solutions to address affordable housing and homelessness, income insecurity and other issues in the months to come.

Local Love in Action

Collage of people’s portraits

Last week was the social service sector’s turn to take a bow, thanks to the launch of the province’s first Nonprofit Sector Week of Appreciation. Realized through the efforts of Daisy Wai, MPP for Richmond Hill, the Bhayana Family Foundation, the Ontario Nonprofit Network, and United Way, the week was a welcome opportunity to celebrate the vital role non-profits play in maintaining healthy, vibrant and inclusive communities across Ontario. Many of the 850,000 professionals behind the province’s 58,000 non-profits have been a lifeline at the forefront of pandemic response, ensuring that the most vulnerable members of our communities have access to what they need. They’ve managed to keep people supported and hopeful by innovating and pivoting. And they’ve done that despite their own frustration, exhaustion and burn out.

Update from the Frontlines

Photo of the TAIBU Community Health Centre

This spring, United Way-funded TAIBU Community Health Centre will roll out one of the first Community Crisis Support Service pilots in the GTA. The non-police emergency response model will be community-led and person-centred – meaning that responders will be focused on de-escalation and bringing the best possible outcomes for those they serve. This is an incredible step forward in the way we respond to mental health crises in our region, and advocates say this approach will directly address systemic racism and bias in policing. Read more about it in the Scarborough Mirror.

Get Involved

Last call: Become a United Way member

Show your local love for community by becoming a member of United Way Greater Toronto. Members are an essential part of United Way’s work: They are invited to attend our Annual General Meeting to vote on the appointment of Trustees, auditors and other special business, receive the annual audited financial statements and hear reports on our work in the community.

Interested in joining? Fill out an application by March 3, 2022.

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