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Virginie shows her local love by volunteering, helping people like Mélanie get the housing support they need.

Her decision to take action...

Virginie

The first time I volunteered, it was for a United Way agency in my city that pairs each volunteer with a young person. I spent a few hours a week with one girl, and organized activities based on her interests and passions. I saw the impact this had on her, like when I took her to a movie theatre for the first time. She was so enthralled! I wanted to show her the special things that life has to offer. It gave me such a good feeling. I wanted to keep getting involved and giving back to the community as much as I could.

Later, when I worked as the campaign director for United Way, we organized a bus tour through an underprivileged neighbourhood. Going on the tour and seeing all the agencies that United Way supports is incredible! The impact of their work can be seen on almost every street corner.

We stopped to meet the director of an agency that works with families in the neighbourhood, as well as some of the families they help. Those families told us how much this support is valued. That was really an extraordinary moment.

What’s great for people who volunteer with United Way is that there’s something for everyone. Some people are good at finding sponsorship for an event, while others enjoy being in the field to help agencies find volunteers. You can also get involved at your own workplace by organizing activities or awareness campaigns.

I appreciate that United Way is smart about allocating money to the agencies that are most in need. And everyone there is very nice and passionate—which is contagious. You always want to do more. I encourage everyone who wants to get involved to do so. Go for it—volunteering is such a great experience!

Visit agencies in person and meet the people they help. This is what always motivates me the most. When you see the concrete impact that United Way has on the community, you get a feeling of accomplishment. You want to keep helping.

- VIRGINIE
United Way volunteer

 

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CHANGED HER LIFE

Melanie

My last apartment was very small and rundown, but I couldn't move out of it, because of my financial situation as a single mom. I was depressed. This affected my children, which made me even sadder. It was a dark time for us.

My financial problems were overwhelming. They were all I thought about, and they became an incredible source of stress. I told myself that things weren’t so bad, but deep down, I was ashamed.

Eventually, I accepted my situation and asked for help. Although it was the right thing to do, reaching out for help was very difficult. A program for single mothers at a United Way agency helped us move into a new subsidized apartment. The effect on my family was almost immediate. Hide it as much as you want: If Mom isn’t happy, the kids aren’t either.

Once I felt better, I saw a change in my kids’ behaviour. They were much more joyful every day. I hadn’t even realized how much of an impact I had on them.

The move also reignited my passion for my former job in esthetics and massage therapy. I dreamt of opening my own salon, a dream that is coming true, thanks to the money I’m saving on rent and the support I get from the agency.

I want other single mothers going through the same thing to not worry about what other people think. You may be afraid of how others will judge you, or you may not think you’re good enough. You feel like a failure. But you have to find a way to rise above all that. Once you accept your situation, you can get help and move forward.

- MELANIE
United Way program participant

 

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