Help make York’s United Way goal – and help kids like Emma

When Emma came to Canada from China only a few years ago, she did not have a strong command of English. But thanks to the after-school program at Braeburn Neighbourhood Place, a United Way agency, Emma, now 10, has blossomed. She is doing well in her studies and could one day attend university.

For John Lennox (right), York’s dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies, it’s  stories like Emma’s that inspire him to give to the United Way. Lennox is this year’s leadership Chair for the York United Way Campaign. He is hoping the York community will respond to a final appeal to bring the campaign up to the $180,000 goal. “I think this is the kind of cause in which we all should be involved because it is central to the well-being of the larger community of which institutions like York are an important part,” said Lennox. “We ask a lot of the community in support of what we do. This is our opportunity to give something back.”

Located in the northern end of Etobicoke, Braeburn Neighbourhood Place and its after-school program are funded by United Way of Greater Toronto. The popular program includes a jazz class, a basketball program, pottery making and a homework club. The individual attention Emma receives at the Braeburn homework club has helped her the most.

“We may, in our own lives or in the lives of people we know, have a personal experience or knowledge of the tremendous work the United Way does in the community,” said Lennox. “Its agencies work day and night to meet the needs of the people who live in our city and its neighbourhoods. To give to the United Way is one of the most constructive things we can do as members of the York community and as citizens of Toronto.” 

Left: Students in the Braeburn after-school program

The success of the after-school program at Braeburn Public School can be measured with the latest results from the students in the province’s standardized tests for Grade 3 students. In 1998, only 17% of Braeburn’s students passed the reading test, compared to 51% in 2002. In writing, the figure jumped from 14% to 52%, and in mathematics, from 10% to 50%.

“Emma can now complete her homework very well,” says Emma’s mother, Wendy. She adds that the agency’s trained staff can explain homework assignments better than some parents can.

Donating to York University’s United Way Campaign will help get projects like Braeburn’s after-school program off the ground, and keep them going, so more children like Emma can have a safe, stable place to learn and grow.

“Particularly at this season, giving to the United Way is an act of community and concern that works to everyone’s benefit – and the recipients are people of all ages,” said Lennox. “I hope that our colleagues and friends will give generously.”

For more information on the 2003 Campaign, visit York’s United Way Campaign Web site. To make a donation to the United Way, please contact Danielle Chateau at extension 55597.