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More than just a meal

I was raised in a small village and when I moved to the big city, you’d rarely find a soul who was willing to give a hand. That’s what makes United Way so important—I was one of those people that needed the service, and I realized it was something I could depend on. I didn’t have to sit around worrying, I could get the support I needed.

Even now, knowing that the food program is there—and that if I need help, they’re not going to say no—means a lot.

I receive groceries on Wednesdays. I realized I needed the help over the summer, when the pandemic had been going on for a few months. This support means I don’t have to wonder when I’m going to eat, or what I’m going to eat. It might be a loaf of bread or a gift card so I can do my own shopping, but it makes me feel more stable. That help goes a long way when you don’t have the means to do it yourself.

There are even times when they'll give a little bit more than what I actually need. That’s when I try to pay it forward—you know, a friend will come over and I’ll say, ‘Here, take this. If you need it, please take it.’ Because if I can't use it, then I know somebody else who can.

That’s why I also volunteer at the food program. I was raised to believe that a helping hand is always welcome. My foster dad was the town plumber, and even though some people couldn’t always afford to pay him, he would just do the work. And my foster mother was active at church and was part of the women’s auxiliary. They’d do bake sales and dinners and stuff like that. Helping one another really brought people together and made us a close-knit community.

It’s basically right there in the name! Whether we’re working or receiving help, United Way brings us together. It’s uniting us into believing we can help one another.

- Chad
United Way program participant