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Samantha’s act of local love—volunteering at a United Way agency—means kids like Nuhaa get the best start in life.

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Her decision to take action...


When I first came to Canada, I was super shy. I could not leave the house at all. My English wasn’t very good, and Canada was just completely different from Uganda. I remember our first Christmas here—it was the first time I saw snow. The weather was so cold! I was used to living on the equator, where it’s 30 C or 40 C every day.

My mom was in Canada with us for a while. Then she went back to Uganda and it was just me and my sisters. My dad was here too, but he was usually working, so I had to be responsible for my sisters. That was quite hard. But we would do United Way programs. There was a story time program at the library, which I loved. I also played sports—I went to all of the programs.

Now I volunteer. I often think, ‘Where would I be without United Way?’ And honestly, I probably wouldn’t be as involved in my community as I am. I don’t think I would be going out there and doing random acts of kindness, like writing little notes that can make someone’s day, or telling people, ‘Hey, I love your smile,’ or ‘I like your style.’ I feel like volunteering has given me a lot of confidence and built leadership skills for me as a young woman.

When I first started volunteering, we would go feed people who were homeless. It was nice to give back. Helping my community has more meaning for me now. Sometimes I walk around my neighbourhood, and if I see someone in need, I buy them food. When I see a person who is homeless, I get them a cup of coffee and say, ‘This is for you.’

Volunteering has helped me become a better person. The more I volunteer, the more lives I want to change and the more people I want to impact.

It’s always nice to help. I feel better being involved in these programs. I’ve gained so much.

United Way volunteer


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I was born in Syria, but when I was four, my family had to leave because it was too dangerous there. So we went to Jordan. I liked it there because my grandparents and aunts and uncles would spend summers with us. When I was eight, we moved to Canada because my parents thought we could have a better life here.

Coming to Canada was not good and not bad. I was excited about meeting other people, but I missed my family and I was scared of going to school because I was shy. I was afraid nobody would want to play with me or be my friend because I didn’t speak English.

Our neighbour told my mom about a United Way after-school program where I could get help with homework and do activities. I was so excited to go there! I have fun, and all the new people I meet are really nice, like my friend Reema. I love her because she’s kind. My favourite part of this program is when we have circle time. That’s when we can play a game, draw or colour. We have a lot of fun together, and now I feel less shy. I’m happy that I get to go to this after-school program.

I feel more comfortable in Canada now. I can speak English, and I’m more confident. I even got to be part of a student art exhibition at the art gallery in my city.

United Way program participant


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