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An archive of the Way to Go! newsletters that were published in 2015.

Issue 1

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December 2014 Way to Go!

The Longest Night - Join the fight against poverty on February 27, 2015

Are you cold enough yet?

On February 27, we challenge you to sleep in your car during The Longest Night as part of a pilot program to raise funds and create awareness about poverty in Peel.

On any given night, there are between 169,000 and 195,000 individuals in Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga who are experiencing poverty and struggling to afford housing. With a wait list of 12,077, Peel has one of the longest social housing wait lists in the country. In our community, homelessness looks different - some families and individuals who lose their homes are turning to their cars for shelter. Spending the night in your car can make for one of the longest nights of your life. It’s uncomfortable. It’s difficult and it’s cold, but it’s a reality for many of our neighbours.

Participation is completely voluntary. By pledging to sleep in your car on February 27, you will give a better understanding to your supporters of the complexity of poverty in our community. We will connect everyone virtually through pictures, videos and messages using #LongestNightPeel. This unique and immersive experience is designed to help people understand the struggles that some of our neighbours face daily. After all, there are no homeless people – there are human beings experiencing homelessness.

Join agents of change from across Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga and help raise support and awarenessfor United Way of Peel Region’s efforts to reduce poverty in the region.

Please join us as we bundle up in our backseats to fight poverty in Peel.

To sign up, visit: www.unitedwaypeel.kintera.org/longestnight.

Left out in the cold
I am deeply saddened and extremely concerned about the deaths of two homeless men that recently succumbed to the frigid temperatures on the streets in Toronto. I can’t imagine a more cruel and unnecessary way for people to die. If we have the knowledge and resources to send a rocket to the moon, we most certainly have the ability to provide people with shelter from the cold.

Don’t think for a minute that homelessness and shelter from the cold is only a Toronto issue. I have witnessed first hand people sleeping outside in strip malls, parks, and in their cars right here in our community. Men and women have told me their stories about their experiences with homelessness due to job loss, divorce, separation and illness. Most of these individuals never expected that in their lifetime they would ever be homeless. At least 160,000 people in Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga live in poverty and one-third of households face housing affordability issues. In a community of 1.3 million people that means that affordable housing is an issue for over 450,000 people. Read more.

Eliminate stigma of mental health

Because of you...

Brampton resident Beatriz is a building member of her Spanish community and church. In her community, there was a lack of available information and a prevalent stigma towards mental illness, so she decided to attend the Train the Trainers program at MIAG Centre for Diverse Women and Families.

Beatriz and 60 members of the African, Caribbean, East Asian, and Eastern European communities attended the 10 week course. Beatriz was able to refresh her knowledge of mental health she learned in university and gain new knowledge about mental health organizations in the Peel community and reducing stigma.” Read more.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Register today for Day of Caring on November 13, 2014
This Valentine's Day give the gift of possibility
Discover Black History Month events in Peel and learn more about the Black Community Advisory Council

Issue 2

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December 2014 Way to Go!

What are you doing this Friday night?

The Longest Night is just a few days away. We challenged the community to sleep in their cars and raise money for United Way, and the community given us an overwhelming response. But if you’re looking for a way to make an impact on Peel, without bundling up in the backseat of your car, then we have something to power you up!

The National Basketball League of Canada’s Mississauga Power is having a Fan Appreciation night this Friday, February 27 2015. Proceeds from ticket sales will be going to United Way of Peel Region!

So whether you’re outside in your car, or courtside at the game, you can affect positive change in your community. For more information about attending the Mississauga Power Fan Appreciation Night, see the flyer below. Tickets are available for $10, $12, $18 and $25.

Left out in the cold
In the middle of Knight’s Table, a United Way-funded agency partner, Glen Harvey shared his story with a group of high school students who were volunteering for the day. “I never really know what I’m going to say when I get up there,” Glen started. “I just share my experience, and hopefully that’s enough.”

Glen’s experience is different than most. And it’s certainly one that you may not even think about when Peel comes to mind. Just three years ago, Glen was homeless and sleeping in his car.

As The Longest Night approaches, it’s important to reflect on what the experience of sleeping in your car actually looks like. “I felt like I was inside of a refrigerator – in an empty cell,” recalled Glen. “It was lonely. It was sad. It was depressing.” Read more.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Register today for Day of Caring on November 13, 2014
Discounted tickets to Mississauga Power Basketball benefitting United Way of Peel Region
Discover Black History Month events in Peel and learn more about the Black Community Advisory Council

Issue 3

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December 2014 Way to Go!

Poverty Reduction - It's what we do.

By leveraging local research and identifying the most pressing community needs, United Way of Peel Region recently announced their 2015/16 strategic priorities to advance their poverty reduction strategy.


Partner: by investing $7.23-million in our community partner agencies to provide accessible programs designed to address poverty – reducing it, preventing it and supporting those who are living in poverty right now. This investment will provide critical support to hundreds of thousands of Peel residents over the coming year.

Collaborate: as a central point of mobilization, United Way brings together leaders from all walks of life to build and support collective responses to the root causes of poverty. Through partnerships with regional government, education, business and health care, United Way drives community impact on issues such as mental health, family violence, youth unemployment and racism to name a few.

Advocate: United Way will continue to work with local and provincial government partners to ensure Peel has the social services necessary to support our community.

Click here for more.

Left out in the cold

I know what usually comes to mind when people think of “heroes”. They think of the cape – the mask – the tights! They think of the comic books and movies.

Let me tell you what I think about:

I think about the people who play a vital role in building a civil society. I think about the people who take ownership for their community, and do whatever it takes to make lives better. I think about you.

Volunteers are heroes. Regardless of their roles, they are doing important work, and that work has a direct impact on the lives of others. I have the unique privilege of working with volunteers daily. Read more.

Left out in the cold

In September 2013 Alex’s father encouraged him to sign up at Poly Cultural Immigrant Community Services for the Youth Achievers (YA) program. At 18, Alex was very shy, so adjusting to life in Canada after immigrating was difficult for him. “We want him to become more social with others,” Alex’s father explained to the Youth Achievers Staff. “His mother and I hope that this program will help.”

On the first night, the Youth Achievers staff engaged Alex in team discussions and games, watching him slowly open up to his team members. As the weeks went on, Alex thrived. He became active online by commenting in the YA Facebook group, and distributing YA materials offline. By the end of the six week program, Alex developed into a YA leader. Read more.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Thank you for your 2014 donation to United Way of Peel Region. Your contribution has helped people in Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga. Thank you.
Discounted tickets to Mississauga Power Basketball benefitting United Way of Peel Region
Register today for Day of Caring on November 13, 2014

Issue 4

December 2014 Way to Go!


Together, we are possibility!

Community mobilizes for the 2015 campaign

It was standing room only last Friday as the 48th annual campaign for United Way of Peel Region launched. Over 300 community members came together, donating thousands of pounds of fresh produce, quality food and hygiene products in an effort to help address food insecurity in Peel. Truckloads of food were collected and dispersed across the region to front line serving organizations. This community mobilization is a living testament of United Way’s affirmation that together, we are possibility.

Last year, your donations to United Way helped over 187,000 of our neighbours, friends and family, and the momentum from that accomplishment inspires us to do more. Throughout the tremendous work we all do, we acknowledge that we battle a different image of poverty: one that we may not be accustomed to because poverty is hidden in Peel.

Shelia, a former client turned volunteer, from United Way-funded Eden Food for Change captured the attention of the audience and motivated everyone for the incredible campaign ahead. She shared the story of how her life changed seemingly overnight. Your donations through United Way helped change her life for the better. Click here to hear Shelia share her story.

This campaign, our goal is to raise $12.15-million to reduce poverty, prevent poverty and support those living in crisis, right now. Today, in Peel Region, over 222,000 people live in poverty. They’re in need of a fresh start, a second chance, a healthier family and a thriving community. We need to act, NOW. Together, as a community, we need to roll up our sleeves, and help one another.

How can you help? Thank you to TD Bank for sponsoring kick-off and Panera Bread for donating breakfast for the agents of change.
Shelia, a former recipient of services turned volunteer from United Way-funded Eden Food for Change shared her story at the 2015 Kick-off event.
You can download the audio of Capes and Masks, the spoken word written and performed by Alex Wichert at the 2015 Kick-off event.
Discounted tickets to Mississauga Power Basketball benefitting United Way of Peel Region
Register today for Day of Caring on November 13, 2014
Register today for Day of Caring on November 13, 2014
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Issue 5

 
 
December 2014 Way to Go!
 
1 in 10 Canadians live in poverty. It’s a reality that we have come to accept as a part of our society, it’s become something we’re accustomed to see in our everyday lives, particularly in an economic downturn. From the homeless man asking for change downtown to the single mother in line at the Food Bank, you don’t have to go far to see the impact that living below the poverty line has on Canadians. It’s easier to walk right past someone living in poverty than it is to address an issue that can sometimes feel too big to tackle.

The reality is poverty is an issue that affects us all. The average cost to society for each person that drops out of high school is $15,850 / year for the rest of their life. From a purely economic standpoint, it’s easy to see the serious consequences that poverty has and the considerable strain that it puts on our country’s resources. This is why it’s essential that we invest now to decrease the number of people relying on these services and ultimately to break the cycle of poverty for future generations to come. It’s a long-term investment, but one that will have a profound impact towards the betterment of society as a whole.

United Way is one organization that has taken an initiative to spread awareness of the realities of living in poverty through the use of an interactive online simulation called ‘Make the Month’. The first of its kind in Canada, Make the Month allows people to simulate the life of someone living in poverty. The simulation covers 12 different United Way regions encompassing 14 cities and has been adapted to each region, offering up-to-date statistics on the unique effects of poverty in each city as well as showcasing ways that United Way and its supported organizations are making a difference.

You can try the simulation online at makethemonth.ca and experience some of the real-life decisions that are made while living in poverty and the impact these decisions have. As the name suggests, you are trying to make it to the end of the month without breaking the bank.

To start, you are asked to pick the life of a single person, single parent family, or two parent family and then must choose what part of the city to live in. After this decision, you are asked a series of 30 questions (1 per virtual day), each with its own unique financial or other consequence. For example, you might be told that your best friend is getting married in another city and wants you to attend the wedding. You would then have to decide based on the money you have left if you want to drive to the wedding, fly, or not attend. Other factors such as stress level, deferred needs, and a strike system are present to make you realize that while the simulation only lasts a month, the effects of your decisions may have long-term impacts.

Make the Month isn’t, however, just founded on the idea that everyone should have more than $0 in their bank accounts by month’s end. It’s a realization that everyone goes through tough times in their lives and has difficult decisions to make, but the effects of poverty can often make these everyday choices a whole lot harder. While it can be easy to treat the simulation as a ‘game’, it’s important to remember that the scenarios and facts presented are reality. A reality that 10% of our population faces every day, every week, and every month. With the stress of an economic downturn weighing on our country, it is more important now than ever that we support those in need and help more people in their efforts to make the month.

I encourage you to try to Make the Month, join the conversation, and challenge your perspectives on poverty. It’s a big issue and we all need to tackle it together.

Todd Hirsch is a Canadian economist, speaker and author.
 
You can download the audio of Sixteen, a spoken word written and performed by Wali Shah that focuses on youth homelessness in Peel.
 

Thank for another great Day of Caring!

 

On Thursday October 8, over 180 Agents of Change from organizations across Peel spent the day making a difference during United Way of Peel Region’s Fall Day of Caring sponsored by Depend.

The event gave employees from workplaces across the region the opportunity to see first-hand the impact of their donations to United Way. They volunteered at 26 front line organizations serving those most vulnerable in Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga.

Some of the Projects for Day of Caring included:
  • Packing of over 500 ”welcome kits” for clients of local shelters. These kits included items such as: toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, soap & deodorant.
  • Mentoring Newcomers by providing employment guidance and advice
  • Participating in a guided hike with clients experiencing mobility challenges

Fall Day of Caring also presented the opportunity for Depend and United Way of Peel Region to come together in support of Underwarness-a social movement and charitable cause to break down the bladder leakage stigma, to promote healthy, active, and independent living throughout an individual's life, with a focus on volunteering.

A big thank you to Depend for their generosity and to all the volunteers who came out that day to make a difference in Peel!

Click to view more photos.
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Your online donation to United Way will be matched 100% by a generous donor.
 
 
 
Behind every changed life is someone who made it happen.
Help  refugees of the Syrian crisis settle in Peel Region.  Click to learn more.
 
 
 

Issue 6

 
 
Issue 6, 2015 Way to Go!
 
You can give the gift of possibility
Right here in your neighbourhood, there are people in crisis. People in desperate need of your help. While you prepare for the upcoming holiday season, they’re preparing for times to get even tougher.

Robin knows her son, Greg, is really cold, and really hungry. All she wants is to be able to feed her a warm, healthy meal. You can give her that meal.

Jessica, a teen, sits in her room with all the lights out, tears streaming down her face. She feels so alone, unsure of what to do. All she wants is someone to talk to. You can give her a warm, sympathetic ear.

Lee holds her young son in one arm, her phone in the other hand, as she sits with her back against the bathroom door. Her heart is pounding, but she’s ready to make the call. Ready to take her children somewhere safe, away from their abusive father. You can give them safe passage.

With your generous holiday gift today, United Way Peel Region can give them the support they need.
  • $15 will provide a single parent and child a healthy meal
  • $30 will give someone in desperate need (mental health, addiction, abuse, suicide) someone to talk to
  • $50 will provide a child with a warm winter coat
  • $75 will give a woman and her children a safe journey from their abusive home to a shelter.

When you make a donation to United Way Peel Region by December 31, it will be worth TWICE as much! A generous donor has offered to match every gift made to this appeal. So no matter which gift you choose, it will have twice the impact—you’ll be making double the number of holiday wishes come true! Click here to give the gift of possibility.
 
I didn’t know what to expect when I received the invitation to participate in Make the Month. I thought with determination that I could make it to day 30, because I’ve lived on my own before and was able to budget and provide for myself the basics.

When I began, for each daily decision I chose to be the good person by doing the right thing. I paid all my bills, and helped my friends and family. Halfway into the first week I started making less friendly decisions as my bank account dwindled more and more. I only helped those around me a little bit and paid some of my bills. This was frustrating for me, because in real life that’s something that would bother me a lot. Near the end of week 1, I was in a horrible situation where I had to start saying no to every situation, and drive without valid documents and not help a friend in need because I just didn’t have the funds. On day 9 it was too late for me to adjust my strategy and my simulation was ended by an unexpected expense that wasn’t just a few dollars shy of what I had in the account, but about 300% more.

It was frustrating, so I immediately tried again. This time I started off by only paying half of everything and giving smaller gifts to friends and family. It still bothered me to make the decisions I made, sacrificing my conscience and morals to push until the end of the month. This idea was also short lived as on day 12 another unexpected expense brought my simulation to an end.

I convinced my friend to try it out, his decisions were to not pay anything, but rent. That meant driving around uninsured, not helping family out in cases of emergency and leaving his roommate high and dry. As he was making his selections, I started getting upset at how he could do that to his family and friends and he explained that it was just a game. He got to day 30 and was ecstatic because it was all a game and he had won the game.

Sadly, these experiences and frustrations are not a game for over 220,000 people in Peel - our neighbors, co-workers, friends and family. Unexpected expenses and making difficult decisions are the reality of many households. No one should have to choose between survival, safety, shelter or family.

The experience definitely brought me back to a time when my family used to live in poverty. A time that I don’t think a lot about because the memories of hunger and embarrassment are triggered. I was still lucky then as a child without the responsibilities of my parents to provide for 4 children.

I joined the United Way’s Young Leaders Council to contribute to change in Peel and I hope our team will inspire and encourage more people to join us in this fight against poverty.

Jannies Le is the Vice Chair of United Way of Peel Region's Young Leaders Council. After studying Sociology at York University and Events and Meeting Management at George Brown College, Jannies chose a career dedicated to grassroots non-profit organizations. She is currently working at an Aboriginal Women's Housing agency. She also runs a mentorship program for the Step Up Youth Volunteer Ambassadors of Peel Region.
 
Your online donation to United Way will be matched 100% by a generous donor.
 
 
 
Behind every changed life is someone who made it happen.
Help  refugees of the Syrian crisis settle in Peel Region.  Click to learn more.