York’s United Way Campaign reaches $140,000 in donations

York’s United Way Campaign has raised $140,000 towards the University’s $200,000 goal.

"There is still time for community members who are interested in making a donation that can be counted as a 2009 contribution for tax purposes. You must make your pledge using the paper form and submit it to the Office of University Events & Community Relations by no later than Jan. 14," says Yvette Munro, York’s employee campaign chair. "Paper pledges can be obtained by calling me at ext. 77529.

"Funds raised will help the city’s most vulnerable, which include youth, the homeless, seniors and newcomers to Canada," says Munro. "The need is very great and your support is important."

United Way agencies continue to see significant increases in demand for services from families who have nowhere left to turn. Here are some recent reports.

The Abrigo Centre provides family counselling, employment programs for newcomers, settlement services and parenting groups. Other services include counselling for women and children who are victims of or witnesses to violence. The centre is seeing an extra 50-100 people per week since January 2008, the majority of whom are from the manufacturing and construction services, who need assistance in applying for EI and Ontario Works.

Chinese Family Services of Ontario counsels people on issues including: elder abuse, family violence, wife assault, sexual assault, gambling and substance abuse. The agency also provides crisis intervention and family life education. There has been a 32 per cent increase in crisis intervention; a 21 per cent increase in marital problems as a result of family job loss; and a 17 per cent increase in the number of clients suffering from emotional problems.

The John Howard Society provides counselling and employment services for people currently, previously, or at risk of becoming in conflict with the law. The agency also provides housing assistance, family support services and support for incarcerated men. The domestic violence program offered by the agency is at capacity. The agency has also experienced a record increase in referrals to the agency’s anger management and domestic violence programs.

St. Stephen’s Community House is a multi-service community centre that offers homeless outreach and a drop-in, addiction counselling, help finding housing, language training and other new-comer services, youth drop-in and employment training/support. The agency also operates four day care centres. The centre has seen 17 per cent more people are accessing employment services this year over the same time last year. Mainly these people are adult men and women, often older adults, and they are remaining unemployed for much longer periods of time. The Language Training Program is reporting an increase in attendance. (When employment is scarce, newcomers often focus their efforts on improving their English).

Munro says the United Way is focused on doing everything possible to cushion the impact of the recession on the community and bring stability to front line agencies.

The return of York’s Not Your Average Spelling Bee 

All members of York’s community are invited to a fundraising lunch marking the return of the Not Your Average Spelling Bee for the United Way Toronto on Thursday, Jan. 21, from 11:45am to 1:15pm at the Underground. Tickets are just $12 for students and $15 for faculty and staff and include a fun-filled show, a light lunch and a donation in support of United Way Toronto.

This is the second year for this United Way event hosted by the Office of University Events & Community Relations (UECR). The spelling bee will be moderated by Dean Alice Pitt, Faculty of Education.

To register a four-person team to compete for the title of  York’s Best Spellers, refer to the game details and submit a team registration form.

For more information, or to make a donation, contact Munro at ext. 77529 or e-mail her at uway@yorku.ca