Leading by example

Through its network of 200 agencies, the United Way works to improve the lives of the homeless, young children, abused women and many more in every corner of the city of Toronto.

For 50 years, the United Way has been identifying the most urgent needs in Toronto and responding to emerging issues that threaten the city’s most vulnerable citizens. Recently, research by the United Way has indicated a trend of growing poverty in Toronto’s inner suburbs, neighbourhoods in East York, Etobicoke, North York, Scarborough and York. These communities are home to a growing number of youth and newcomer families.

“York University recognizes this need and our campaign goal of $190,000 will go a long way to improve the lives and futures for residents in these areas,” said Sue Levesque, York’s United Way Campaign co-chair. “Key to reaching this goal is the University’s leadership campaign composed of donors who contribute $1,000 or more. Our leaders made up nearly 65 per cent of our achievement last year and the University is once again looking to those individuals with the capacity to give at the leadership level to show their support again.”

This year’s leadership campaign co-chairs understand the United Way’s critical role in building a safer, healthier Toronto. Mike Graham (left), York’s assistant vice-president, Facilities Services, and Eileen Fischer (right), professor of marketing in the Schulich School of Business and holder of the Max and Anne Tanenbaum Chair in Entrepreneurship & Family Enterprise, are returning to the role. This will be Graham’s second year as the leadership co-chair, and Fischer is returning for a fourth year. Both say they are huge supporters of the campaign.

“The United Way is very important because of the work that its agencies do to improve the quality of life in Toronto,” said Fischer.

Graham says his commitment to this year’s campaign comes from the first time he stepped onto the York campus in March 2004. “The sense of community I felt from the faculty, staff and students was reinforced and strengthened when I saw the tremendous success of last year’s University United Way Campaign.” said Graham. “The success of the 2005 campaign was made possible because of the generosity and commitment of the York community. It is my goal to increase the participation and funds again this year and I am delighted and honoured to once again be the co-chair of this year’s University United Way Campaign.”

In 2004 United Way agencies:

• put 290,000 youth participants
on the path to success with educational
and recreational after-school programs,
homework help, leadership development,
counselling,employment training and job

• helped 218,000 newcomer participants
establish new lives in Canada with
employment services, English language
classes, settlement counselling
and translation services.

• provided 294,000 nights of shelter to
homeless people and 948,000 meals to the
homeless and people living in substandard

• provided parenting classes to 51,000
participants to teach parents and caregivers
new skills and increase their confidence.

• provided 68,000 nights of shelter to abused
women and their children.

• enabled 41,000 senior participants to live
independently with personal care,
homemaking services (laundry, cleaning)
and home visits to frail seniors living alone.

• provided job training to 3,000 participants
with disabilities so they could gain
employment, such as work placements,
job coaching, computer training and literacy

“The need for leadership donors is pressing,” said Fischer. “Our local community is one of the at-risk neighbourhoods identified by the United Way of Greater Toronto and York University is a member of an increasingly diverse metropolitan area. Both within and beyond our campus boundaries are cases of pressing personal, emotional and financial need. We need a vibrant neighbourhood and city to have a vibrant York.”

Leaders, by their example, form a foundation of inspiration. York University’s United Way Leadership Campaign members contribute at least $1,000 annually (about $1.43 per day). Their generosity forms the base of a strong network of support for the 200 member agencies working in the field to make Toronto a world-class city. The continuing support of York’s Leadership Campaign is an integral part of the tradition at the University of meeting campaign targets. Leaders, by the very nature of their generosity, make a powerful statement to the thousands of families in the Greater Toronto Area who receive benefit from the United Way.

The United Way is helping students in high poverty communities to stay in school and go on to postsecondary education, apprenticeships and employment through its partnership with the Toronto District School Board. With the help of its leadership donors, the United Way is directing support to inner suburbs to improve conditions in neighbourhoods through improved community services and outreach to create lasting change.




Those interested in making a difference should contact Eileen Fischer at ext. 77957, or Mike Graham at ext. 55530. Visit the United Way of Greater Toronto Web site to find out more about how your donation works to assist social and health agencies in the Greater Toronto Area.

Contributions submitted by the campaign deadline of Nov. 24 will be entered into a draw for a number of prizes including a grand prize, an iPod Nano, valued at $250. The grand prize was donated by Tri-Tech Electrical Contractors. To learn more about the campaign’s progress to date and the prizes, see the Nov. 15 issue of YFile.