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Daniel unleashes his local love at his workplace campaign—which funds the kind of vital, community-based supports that helped Travis get back on his feet.

His decision to take action...

Daniel

I think it’s important to give back, but it’s not about how much you give, it’s also about being invested.

Every year, the utility company where I work organizes a company-wide United Way campaign that runs across to all our affiliates. Since 2009, I’ve been volunteering my time as part of the company’s campaign. There are two parts of it that really appeal to me. The first is that the committee comes together like a family. The second is that United Way is so strongly rooted in all of our local communities. That’s important to me. United Way reflects my values and I feel that it’s such an important organization to support.

In my day-to-day position, I lead a call centre team that responds to customers across Nova Scotia. One of the most difficult situations I deal with is working with customers who are struggling to keep up with paying their power bills. I can recall a particular situation where two elderly customers reached out to us. They lived in a rural community and their only income was their monthly pension.

I was able to connect them with another local organization that helped pull funds together to get their account restored and came up with a financial plan that would work for them.

Over the course of two years, that plan helped the pair to get rid of their debt and to live independently in their own home.

I’m proud that I could be of assistance—and that’s the kind of thing I encourage my team to do through our United Way campaign. If any of them want to help the community, I help make it happen.

- DANIEL
United Way donor

 

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CHANGED HIS LIFE

Travis

Becoming homeless was really stressful. The first time I really didn’t have anywhere to stay, I spent the night on the shores of a lake in my neighbourhood. I didn’t know what else to do.

It started when I was 15—I was removed from my family home by the police when things got really bad one day. I ended up doing a lot of couch surfing, but thankfully, I only spent a few nights outside.

Things didn’t get better when I graduated from high school; they actually got worse. I was still angry and hurt. I ended up hitchhiking across the country, getting into drugs and living on the streets.

But in 2015, I was offered the chance to go home and get clean. A few months later, I was accepted into a United Way-supported transitional housing program for men recovering from addiction. There were a lot of very strict rules, but I was being held accountable—maybe for the first time ever. I started doing everything I could do to avoid falling back into old habits, like volunteering at a community garden.

Now, I’m studying computer science at university and working part time at a local homeless shelter. I remember when I stayed at different shelters, I struggled to connect with the staff. But getting to work at the shelter gives me the opportunity to be that staff member who people connect with. It’s been a very fulfilling experience—being able to identify with people and actually getting real with them when we talk.

When I was at my worst, I would walk down the street and people would pretend I wasn’t there. Nowadays, people cross the street just to say hi to me. I plan to finish my degree and I’m thinking about doing a master’s. I’d also like to get more involved with the shelter system in my city.

I want people like me to know it can get better. There are always going to be people there for you—you just have to open up and allow them in.

- TRAVIS
United Way program participant

 

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