An archive of the Way to Go! newsletters that were published in 2016.

Issue 1

You can give the gift of possibility
Jane is one of over 222,000 people in Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga living in poverty and struggling to afford housing. With a wait list of over 12,000 people, Peel has one of the longest social housing wait lists in the country.
Homelessness looks different in our community. In some cases, we see families who arrived to the country with nothing, we see youth who have been turned out with nowhere to go and in others, people have lost their homes and turn to their cars for shelter.

Nobody should have to call their car home.
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 children and adults living in our community.

As a valued champion of our community, we need your assistance in raising awareness around this pressing issue. I invite you to join this group of community leaders and pledge to sleep in your car on February 19, 2016. Your participation will provide your supporters with a better understanding of the complexity of poverty in our community and help end homelessness in Peel Region.
Please join us as we bundle up in our backseats to create awareness and raise funds to fight poverty and homelessness in Peel.

Sign up for #LongestNightPeel at
2015/2016 Youth in Action Grant Recipients are Announced!

On Thursday, January 14 among their family and friends eight youth groups comprised of entrepreneurial leaders were awarded a Youth in Action grant.
Youth in Action grants are a one-time granting opportunity focused on youth-led projects that offer creative youth-initiated ideas to address community issues in Peel Region. Youth between the ages of 14 and 24 are eligible to apply for this grant. These grants are a pillar in United Way of Peel Region’s investment strategy and we are looking forward to hearing the results of each project. 

The 2015 Youth in Action Grants will be awarded to the following youth-led projects:

  1.  yWE TALK is a by-youth-for-youth organization with the vision to increase awareness about mental health, as well as the mission to educate and encourage youth to take care of their mental well-being.
  2. Step Up Youth Volunteer Ambassadors hopes to execute an educational and awareness project that will change youth’s negative perceptions of their peers who are facing poverty in the Region of Peel.
  3. Girls Empowerment Movement (GEM): Passion to Action Conference is a youth-led group that aims to provide girls in the Peel Region with leadership, mentorship and empowerment opportunities.
  4. Ink Movement: Mississauga Youth Anthology is an annual publication that aims to showcase written and visual work created by young artists between the ages of 12-24 in the Peel Region. The theme of theAnthology’s fourth volume is “What’s Wrong?”
  5. Aspiring Youth is a youth empowerment conference that is focused specifically on social entrepreneurship, as it aims to provide youth with skills and knowledge on how to advocate for a cause successfully, whether it be by creating a new organization or simply hosting a local fundraiser.
  6. Cipher is a code-oriented community within the Peel Region with the goal of introducing programming literacy to secondary school students, and acting as a launching pad into the world of coding for these students.
  7. Post-Secondary 101 is a one-day event that gives high school students a first-hand perspective on post-secondary life in order to help educate these students about the realities of what happens after high school.
  8. Mississauga Youth Film Festival (MYFF) is a youth-led annual film festival event designed to showcase the film-making talents of the youth in Mississauga, as it provides a platform for passionate and young film-makers to display their cinematography skills and allow them to be creative and express themselves through film.

Click here to see photos.

Stories of Possibility
United Way of Peel Region is focused on poverty reduction – reducing it, preventing it and supporting those in crisis right now. With a network of 54 agencies, United Way funds 89 programs in Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga. Interim Place is one partner who provides support to women in the community who are currently experiencing or have experienced violence and abuse. To better illustrate what an abused, young, immigrant woman feels, we would like to share an excerpt from Rum Drops, an autobiography written by Kira Rai. This excerpt places us in the moment and demonstrates the real issue facing women and the need for strong support programs for women.

An excerpt from Cold Feet

 “Please don’t do this. I’ll be good,” I whimpered. “I’m not hun-gry!”

I held onto his legs. Cramps filled my lower stomach. He got out of the car and came to my side. He pulled open the door, squeezed my arm and pulled me out. I covered my stomach with my other hand.

“Please don’t!” I screeched. My head throbbed.

“Let’s see how long it takes you to get home.” He threw change at me, got in the driver’s seat and locked the doors. I grabbed the door handle and shook it hard and harder.

“Please!” I cried.

He sped off. I stumbled back. I ran after his car. My stomach cringed. Sadness streamed through me. Hot flashes took over. I pressed my back against a stone building. I sunk to the ground. I sobbed. My cramps squeezed harder. I got on my knees and scraped my nails against the wet sidewalk for the change. I sat back down. People walked around me. They looked at me with disgust. One laughed.

I scraped up every penny I saw. I didn’t know how much the bus cost. I picked small grains of sand and pieces of red autumn leaves from my nails. I cried. People glared at me; my hair tie broken, my curly hair yanked this way and that way by the wind. The cold air slashed my dry flaking skin. My face burned. I wore an old home dress, ripped at the ankles. Everyone around me wore fall jackets and some wore gloves and hats. He didn’t buy me new clothing. He said it was too expensive.

I dragged my feet down the street. I rubbed my hands on my stomach. I used my thin scarf to cover my mouth from the cold air. I tried to read the signs. Being new to the country, I wasn’t used to different fonts. I couldn’t read them.

I saw the outline of the lake at the end of the tall buildings. I beamed with joy. I ran to the lake. I felt the outline of stone beneath me. I inched closer to the edge. I felt free. My husband was gone. I was safe. I saw the lake. I couldn’t swim. I breathed in freedom. I lifted one foot. I tipped forward. My child kicked, I cradled my stomach and sobbed. I inched back off the stone, keeping my eyes on the lake.

I just stood there.

Arriving in Canada at the age of 21, she found herself in an abusive arranged marriage. With her family and friends thousands of kilometers away, she preserved through several decades of abuse through finding employment and joining support groups. As she gets closer to mustering up the courage to divorce, she ensures her children, who are now in their early-twenties, are safe and away from home. She encourages them to help others through charity work; their charity of choice is United Way of Peel Region.

2015 Community Achievement Celebration | March 4, 2016 11 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.


Help  refugees of the Syrian crisis settle in Peel Region.  Click to learn more.

Issue 2

Issue 1, 2016 Way to Go!
You can give the gift of possibility
Agents of Change spend a cold night in their car to raise awareness about homelessness in Peel
Last week in the dark and cold, over 60 Agents of Change from across Peel Region participated in United Way of Peel Region’s 2nd Annual Longest Night event to raise funds and awareness about homelessness in our community. This included community and government leaders, United Way Advisory Council members and people with lived experience. As the sun set and the temperature dipped, participants began preparing for this immersive experience. With over 200,000 residents living in poverty the threat of homeless is a very real and growing local issue.

Shelley White, President and CEO, United Way of Peel Region joined City of Brampton Mayor Linda Jeffery, Councillor Martin Medeiros, and Member of Parliament, Brampton South, Sonia Sidhu in Garden Square in Brampton. “We’ve been working hard to create awareness about homelessness in our neighbourhoods. With each public push, I receive calls and emails from people who have or are experiencing homelessness.” said White. “We did this for one night. This cannot replicate the feeling of isolation, vulnerability and desperation that people who do this night after night feel. I hope it will bring the attention and support this issue deserves.”

“Last year 450 kids were turned away from the one emergency youth shelter in our community.” said Anita Stellinga, Vice President, Community Investment, United Way of Peel Region. “Homelessness looks different in our community - it’s hidden. The Longest Night is meant to shine a light on this social issue and mobilize our residents. From youth hockey teams to politicians, the reaction to this year’s event has been inspiring.” Stellinga joined Town of Caledon Mayor Allan Thompson, Councillor Jennifer Innis and Councillor Annette Groves at the Town of Caledon’s office.

“Spending the night in your car can make for one of the longest nights of your life. It’s difficult and it’s cold, but it’s a reality for many children and adults living in our community who have lost their homes and turn to their cars for shelter.” said John Russo, Board Chair, United Way of Peel Region. Russo also participated in the event.

Social media was filled with stories of outrage, confusion, disbelief and personal reflection as participants shared their experiences using #LongestNightPeel. The conversation carried many themes, including the recognition that participants would spend the next night sleeping in their warm bed unlike many others in our community. The event raised over $54,000. These funds will support the United Way’s homelessness strategy.

Participants included:
  • City of Brampton, Mayor Linda Jeffery
  • Town of Caledon, Mayor Allan Thompson
  • City of Brampton, Councillor Martin Medeiros
  • Town of Caledon, Councillor Jennifer Innis
  • Town of Caledon, Councillor Annette Groves
  • Member of Parliament, Brampton South, Sonia Sidhu
  • Metrolinx President and CEO, United Way Board Member, Bruce McCuaig
  • Partner, Pallett Valo LLP, United Way Board Chair, John Russo
  • Financial Services Senior Executive, TD Bank Financial Group, United Way Vice Chair Thomas Dyck
  • Senior Vice President, Payment, TD Bank, United Way Board Member, Chuck Hounsell
  • United Way President and CEO, Shelley White
  • Minor bantam hockey team - The Meadowvale Hawks 93
  • High school students and youth social justice clubs across the region
Jamie's #LongestNightPeel Experience
Last weekend I had an experience that has moved me to think more about what it would be like to be homeless. As some of you may know I slept in our van outside of the Rose Theatre in downtown Brampton to help raise funds and awareness for the homeless. This was done with United Way of Peel Region and there were a number of others who did this as well including Shelley White, CEO of United Way and Brampton Mayor Linda Jeffrey.

I went in to this thinking it would be a piece of cake. In fact I actually had myself convinced that I would get more sleep than I usually do and this would a welcomed rest for me.

That didn’t turn out to be what actually happened. Here’s what actually happened:

I realized that it is one thing to take a nap in a vehicle (I do that all the time when we’re driving places!) and a completely different thing to sleep all night like that. I woke up every hour or so trying to get comfortable.

Even though it wasn’t nearly as cold as it could have been, I still woke up chilled and feeling like the dampness had reached my bones. Even my nose was cold so that after a while I started putting the blanket over my face too.

To be honest, because I was chilled, every time I woke up I had to go to the bathroom – which was a pain AND in our case the Rose Theatre washrooms had been left open and available to us! Imagine if that wasn’t the case!!

Early in the morning the construction noise started and being out where we were it was disturbing even for a “good sleeper” like me.

I have to say over the night I did wonder about safety and “what if someone came up to me while I am sleeping, I would be so defenseless” (also recalling some good “friends” doing things to me when we were young and I was sleeping ). AND again there really were no worries in our case because we actually were blessed with security around the Rose Theatre Garden Square – which would NOT be the case if this was your normal reality.

And then this was the kicker for me. I woke up knowing that I would be sleeping in my own, nice, comfortable bed that night. That this was just one night and if I could survive the day I’d be back to normal that night. Imagine if sleeping in a vehicle like this was your reality day in and day out, night after night!! Honestly, you would be grumpy and living in a fog, and down on your life and yourself (at least I would be!!).

So I continue to think about this experience and I continue to prayerfully consider what we can do to battle homelessness in Peel/Brampton. Others are doing the same I know. Together we can do more I think. More affordable housing, more shelter downtown Brampton, more compassion for those that have no options or at least feel like they have no options.

Stay tuned. Please pray for the homeless because it really is more difficult than we think. Be ready to respond because when next steps arise it will take all of us working together to make it happen!

As God reminds me often and as United Way of Peel Region has said so well….Together we are Possibility!

Jamie Holtom is a minister at North Bramalea United Church. In 2012, with the help of congregation members at NBUC and other community members Jamie sought to open The Journey Neighbourhood Centre in the Ardglen/Orenda Neighbourhood of Brampton. In 2015, Jamie was awarded with the Brampton Citizen of the Year award.
Last chance for tickets!
2015 Community Achievement Celebration | March 4, 2016 11 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Help  refugees of the Syrian crisis settle in Peel Region.  Click to learn more.

Issue 3

Issue 3, 2016 Way to Go!

United Way of Peel Region Congratulates Government on Investment in Housing, Homelessness, and Poverty Reduction

United Way of Peel Region is focused on supporting the economy and poverty reduction in our community. We do this through poverty reduction, prevention and supporting those who are impacted by it.

We are pleased that the federal budget responds to the core elements of United Way’s pre-budget recommendations to address poverty and expand opportunities for low-income Canadians.

Shelley White, President and CEO, commented “The federal budget announcement on Tuesday aligns with the provincial government’s recent commitment to end chronic homelessness in 10 years. The United Way of Peel is exceedingly pleased to see both the provincial and federal governments’ commitment in ensuring that every Canadian has a warm place to sleep.

One in five children in Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga live in Poverty. The new increases to the Child Benefit and Guaranteed Income Supplement will support seniors and low income families in managing the increase in cost of living.

With a wait list of over 12,000 for subsidized housing, Peel has one of the longest social housing wait lists in the country. Last year almost 15,000 people including 4,000 children and youth used homeless shelters and transitional housing. The announcements on affordable housing and commitments to end homelessness were more heartening than I can express.

These investments will go a long way to helping people who need it and to reducing poverty, especially child poverty in Peel Region. We look forward to continuing our work with government partners to drive better community outcomes for this large group of Canadians.”

We are very pleased to see the federal government commit to the following:

Housing and Homelessness
  • Invest $112 million over 2 years to address homelessness in 61 cities
  • Invest $89.9 million to renovate over 3,000 shelter spaces or transition homes for victims of violence.
  • $112 million increase for the Housing Partnering Strategy including Housing First
  • Increase affordable housing funding by $2.3 billion over 2 years including the construction of new units and the repair of existing housing
  • Plans to develop a National Housing Strategy
    • 14,520 individuals including almost 4,000 children and youth used homeless shelters and transitional housing in Peel
    • United Way of Peel Region is concerned that there is only one youth shelter in Peel, which experiences such high demand they are forced to turn away over 450 kids per year. We are continuing to advocate for services across the housing continuum and for wrap around supports targeted at homeless youth to address this pressing issue within our community.
    • With a wait list of over 12,000 for subsidized housing, our community has one of the longest social housing wait lists in the country and this investment will help pull people out of poverty.
    • This is met with particular enthusiasm as it aligns with the provincial governments’ commitment to end chronic homelessness in 10 years
Child Poverty
  • Enhance Child Care Benefit which will see an increase for 9 out of 10 families.
    • 20% of children in Peel live in poverty
    • New increases to the child benefit will support low income families, ensure children have access to basic needs, and break the cycle of poverty for children and youth.
    • This is especially of interest as it aligns with the provincial governments’ 2016 budget priority to increase the Ontario Child Benefit which helps protect low to moderate income families from increases in the cost of living.
  • Increase the top up for the Guaranteed Income Supplement for Single Seniors by up to $947 annually– an investment of $670 million annually impacting 900,000 single seniors
    • 23% of seniors living alone are in poverty in Peel. In addition, 44% of the labour market in the GTA is precariously employed leaving many people without access to a meaningful retirement plan.
    • This commitment will ensure the most vulnerable in our community are able to maintain an adequate standard of living when they retire.
    • This is of particular importance as it aligns with the provincial governments’ 2016 Budget priority to increase income security in retirement through the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan.
  • Doubling the size of the Canada Summer Jobs program to create 35,000 youth jobs; enhance the Youth Employment Strategy; and increase post-secondary education grants by 50% to low-income families.
    • The youth unemployment rate in Peel is 18.9% and this rate rises to 30% for racialized youth.
    • This investment will ensure youth have access to services and supports and that they are active and engaged in their community.
    • This is particularly timely as it aligns with the provincial governments’ 2016 budget priority to launch the new Ontario Student Grant program which will provide free tuition for low income families, as well as their Youth Job Connection program (as part of their Youth Action Plan)

Syrian Refugees
  • Invest $245 million over five years, for the identification, overseas processing, transportation and resettlement of an additional 10,000 Syrian refugees
    • Over 50% of Peel’s population is comprised of immigrants, making it one of the most culturally diverse communities in Ontario.
    • 15.2% of newcomers in Peel are unemployed.
    • This investment will ensure newcomers, immigrants, and refugees will be supported through the long term settlement process and have equal access to gainful employment.
    • This is especially of interest as it aligns with the provincial governments’ 2016 budget priority to provide additional funding to support the welcome and settlement of refugees in Ontario.

In addition, the increased investment in Veterans, Indigenous People, pensions, and infrastructure will go a long way to reduce poverty and build strong communities across Canada.

We will continue to advocate with community partners to ensure Peel gets their fair share within these announcements. We will also continue advocating for funding for 211 which will connect people to the right information and services; will strengthen Peel's health and human services; and help residents to become more engaged with their communities.
Jamie's #LongestNightPeel Experience
Every year, March 21 is celebrated around the world as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. It is a day that marks the anniversary of the tragic events of Sharpeville, South Africa, when police opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration against the apartheid “pass laws” in 1960. Six years later, the United Nations General Assembly declared March 21 an annual date for the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate racism in all its forms.

United Way of Peel Region is very concerned about the socio-economic disparities/disadvantages and exclusion of racialized communities in the Region of Peel. In particular we have heard from our ethno-specific Community Advisory Councils and Young Leaders Council who are engaged and concerned members of the Region. The high youth unemployment rate, the increasing divide in neighbourhoods that have and those that do not; the lack of services and exclusion of the LGBTTQ communities in Regional discourse is alarming.

Studies and findings by international, national and local bodies demonstrate that people of African descent still have limited access to quality education, health services, housing and employment.

The ongoing exclusion and racism experienced by our Aboriginal community is shameful!

The desperate pleas of our homeless communities demands that the creation of affordable housing is not a luxury but a basic need afforded to all human beings.

The increasing expressions of Islamophobia and Xenophobia warrants a deliberate and conscious strategy of public education and awareness building to ensure that all members of our community are respected and that dialogue is the tool of change.

We call on all decision makers in the Region to pay attention to the marginalized groups and individuals who are most vulnerable to poverty. To pay specific attention to the unheard voices that are silenced and excluded from many Regional conversations and narratives on economic growth.

United Way of Peel Region encourages all residents of Peel to stand up and participate in the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination! That all residents of Peel commit to defending the equal rights inherent in Canada’s Charter of Rights & Freedoms of their neighbours. That we as residents of Peel stand up and say NO next time a racist slur, inappropriate joke, immigrant & refugee barrier is imposed, that a sexist comment is made, when an individual is denied housing, educational and job opportunities; that YOU stop the ‘othering’ of human beings because they are different from you!

We ask that as neighbours committed to defending strong communities and inclusion that we ACT now to keep Peel open, safe and a community of refuge for all.
Learn more about the 2016 Charity Golf Classic in support of United Way of Peel Region
Participate in the Mississauga Marathon
Help  refugees of the Syrian crisis settle in Peel Region.  Click to learn more.

Issue 4

Issue 4, 2016 Way to Go!

United Way of Peel Region Announces Strategic Investments in Mental Health Supports

Today, United Way announced an investment of over $1.3 million supporting critical mental health services to meet the growing need in Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga.

Key Facts:
  • Mental illness is the second leading cause of disability and premature death among Canadians.
  • One in five will experience diagnosable mental health problems or illnesses in their lifetime. 70% of which will occur during childhood or adolescence.

In Peel:
  • This figure represents over 250,000 people. Stigma and lack of awareness of mental health supports are key challenges facing Peel’s population
  • There is a 6 month waitlist for mental health supports
  • 12% of Peel students surveyed had seriously considered suicide and 6% had tried it at least once in the past 12 months
  • Police units are responding to an increasing number of mental health calls – 96% increase since 2009

United Way of Peel Region is focused on poverty reduction. Collectively, we work to reduce poverty, prevent poverty and support people living in crisis right now. Through research and best practice, we know that mental health and addictions play a critical role in feeding into the cycle of poverty.

Across the region, there is significant need for increased supports, education, outreach and advocacy. The $1.3 million announced today will go to drive education, awareness, counseling, family supports and outreach strategies.

One of our best opportunities to break the cycle of poverty is to prevent and address mental health issues before it is too late.

Click to download infographic

Jamie's #LongestNightPeel Experience
On any given night in Canada, over 35,000 Canadians are homeless. Throughout the year, more than 235,000 Canadians experience homelessness at some point. How many people in Peel are homeless? We know that 14,520 people, including 3,985 children, used shelters in a single year. But we think there are more people out there, and we are going to find the real number.

All we know now is that many people don’t have a place to stay, and that we need more housing supports across Peel Region.

So Peel Region is taking part in the 20,000 Homes Campaign, a national struggle whose goal is to house 20,000 of the most vulnerable people in Canada by 2018. For the purposes of the campaign, ‘most vulnerable’ refers to people who are experiencing homelessness, have complex needs, and are at risk of death from homelessness.

Sharon Douglas, Director of Community Investment at United Way of Peel Region, is leading this campaign in partnership with the Region of Peel, Peel Poverty Reduction Strategy Committee, Our Place Peel, Supportive Housing in Peel (SHIP), St. Leonard’s Place Peel, and the Salvation Army.

A first task for these groups is to hold a Registry Week in Peel from Saturday, June 4 to Friday, June 10 this year.

In the first four days, volunteers will be out on the streets making a “count” of homeless individuals. They will find out what each individual’s unique needs are, such as:
  • whether the person is “chronically homeless” (homeless for a year or more);
  • “episodically homeless” (moves in and out of homelessness);
  • if they have mental health concerns, or any other specific needs or barriers to getting help.

This will reveal which individuals are most vulnerable and therefore in most urgent need of housing, and lead to a more efficient housing system, ensuring that those who require more support receive what they need.

The results of the Registry Week survey will be reported to the participants and to the public on Friday June 10 at a Community Call to Action.

Want to take part in helping the homeless? Volunteers are needed to conduct the surveys, to input data, and to participate in the Community Call to Action. Register online or contact Jen Turner at or phone 905-602-3646 for more information.

Learn more about 20,000 Homes at
Brampton Board of Trade Honours United Way of Peel Region with Mentoring Award

On April 28 at the Brampton Board of Trade’s annual Business Excellence Awards, United Way of Peel Region was presented the Mentoring Award.

The Mentoring award is given to a business person or organization that best helps support youth, newcomers or new entrepreneurs to be successful in the Brampton business community.

“I’m very happy the Brampton Board of Trade recognizes the important role that United Way plays in supporting the social economic growth and success of our community,” says United Way of Peel Region President and CEO, Shelley White, “Coming from the business community, this recognition truly validates our work and proves that everything we do has the power to change and impact the lives of those struggling in Peel.”

United Way of Peel Region is proud to share the 2016 Mentoring award with PLASP Child Care Services.

White continues, “When we say Together we are Possibility, we mean it. We need everyone at the table to make lasting change. We are able to create sustainable poverty-reduction solutions, locally. However, we are only able to do that with your ongoing support. Thank you!”

Learn more about the 2016 Charity Golf Classic in support of United Way of Peel Region
Participate in the Mississauga Marathon
May 4 is McHappy Day

Issue 5

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Issue 4, 2016 Way to Go!

United in making a difference

An editorial from Shelley White in response to the three-week special report on Peel's hidden homeless recently published in The Mississauga News, The Brampton Guardian and Caledon Enterprise.
It’s been over 25 years since I moved to Peel.

Since then, I’ve had a front row seat to the development and growth experienced by the vibrant municipalities of Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga. In that time, Peel has evolved from a bedroom community to a thriving urban region – with a population larger than the province of Saskatchewan.

There are two sides to every coin. As we enjoy the benefits of expansion, so too do we experience a growth in social issues – a critical thread running through many social issues is poverty.

I often hear people say “there is no poverty in Peel”. They’re quite wrong. In 1980, two per cent of Peel’s neighbourhoods were considered low income. Today, it’s 45 per cent. One in five children in this community live in poverty. Over 14,000 people – right here in Peel - access emergency shelter or transitional housing each year. Because the growth of our social infrastructure hasn’t kept pace with our population growth, our social housing wait list is one of the longest in the country.

Any nurse, social worker or police officer will tell you poverty is a big contributor to social and health issues impacting our community. Hidden, across our region, are kids going to school hungry, homeless youth escaping violent situations and seniors who can no longer afford housing to name a few.

Fifty percent of us are one pay cheque away from financial crisis. Unexpected circumstances in life can make the difference between living above the poverty line or below. Yet there is a stigma attached to financial struggle – an “othering”. We don’t speak of decisions deferred, sleepless nights or the shame that can come with lack of funds. Poverty, being hungry, homelessness – these things happen to other people.

I am privileged to work with corporate, government, non-profit and labour leaders across the region committed to ensuring every man, woman and child has a warm place to sleep, enough to eat and a chance at a better future.

Momentum is building. Our partners are legion in this movement – committed people getting involved and making a difference.

Join us at any time. I look forward to continuing this important work with you.
You are vulnerable to falling into poverty if...
We know the commonalties of everyday life often contribute to unforeseen circumstances. Everyday people lose their jobs, face illness, struggle to support their children and aging parents. Life happens – usually when you least expect it.
If you are:

  • Without a job
  • A single parent
  • Suffering from mental illness or a chronic disease
  • A young person
  • Sick or caring for a family member who is
  • A member of a visible minority
  • New to the country
  • A person with a disability
  • A senior
  • Working in an industry experiencing an economic downturn.
If this is you, please know there is help and we are making progress towards providing permanent solutions to ensure all people are housed and remain housed.


Day of Caring®

On Thursday, May 19, over 150 volunteers participated in Day of Caring® at over 25 locations throughout Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga. Volunteers witnessed the impact of United Way dollars at work supporting individuals and families in their time of need. Click here to see photos from the day.
United for Fort McMurray
Like all Canadians, United Way of Peel Region is heartbroken by the situation facing thousands of residents in Fort McMurray and its surrounding communities. We want to do everything we can to help.

With United Way Fort McMurray staff and volunteers currently affected by the evacuation order, United Ways  across Canada have been offering their help.

Even though we may not be directly affected by the events ongoing in Alberta, United Way of Peel Region stands united with Fort McMurray as residents and families begin the long road to recovery.

We will continue to work with our fellow United Ways to keep our community updated on the situation and relief efforts coordinated by United Way Centraide.

Canadians looking to support recovery efforts can donate to United Way Fort McMurray to support the community’s recovery and rebuilding efforts. By donating to United for Fort McMurray you will be helping residents recover from this disaster and return to their families. Donations will be used to help address the community’s important social needs, like housing, food assistance, trauma and mental health supports- the rebuilding of Fort McMurray’s entire social infrastructure. United Way will work with all levels of government and community partners to put these funds where they are needed most and will have the greatest impact.

Crisis situations like this can happen to anyone at any time. It is important in times like these that we continue to work together and support those in need.
Copyright © 2016 United Way of Peel Region, All rights reserved.
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Issue 6

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Issue 6, 2016 Way to Go!

United Way of Peel Region Announces Investments in Homelessness Intervention Strategy at Annual General Meeting

Today, at its Annual General Meeting, United Way announced an investment of over $1.9 million to support their homelessness reduction and prevention strategy. The funds will provide critical services to meet the growing need in Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga.

Key Facts:
  • More than 226,000 people in Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga are living in poverty and struggle with basic needs such as housing, food, and transportation. Source: Tamarack Poverty Indicators, 2015
  • About 40% of individuals are precariously employed in the Greater Toronto Area. Youth, newcomers, immigrants and racialized individuals are more likely to be in precarious employment. Source: It’s More Than Poverty: Employment Precarity and Household Wellbeing, PEPSO Research, 2013
  • In 1980, 2% of Peel neighbourhoods were considered low income. Today it’s 45%. Source: Neighbourhood Change Research Partnership, University of Toronto, 2014
  • The weekly cost to feed a family of four increased by 26% between 2009 and 2015 (from $156.15 to $197.35); income levels have not increased at the same rate. Source: Nutritious Food Basket 2009-2015, Region of Peel
  • 12.1% of Peel households experienced food insecurity between 2011 and 2013. Source: Canadian Community Health Survey 2011-2013, Stats Canada
  • 12,077 households in Peel are waiting for a rent subsidy — the average wait time is 5.3 years. Source: Peel Annual Housing System Report 2015
  • The current rental vacancy rate in Peel is 1.7% in the private rental market. When the rate is below 3% it means demand is much higher than supply. Source: Peel’s Housing & Homelessness Plan,Progress Update
  • To own an average home in Peel requires a minimum annual median household income of $62,480. Two out of every five households earn less than $60,000 annually. Source: Peel’s Housing & Homelessness Plan, Progress Update
“The $1.9 million announced today provides access to emergency shelter, supports those in shelters to secure stable housing and prevents people from falling into homelessness in the future," said Shelley White, United Way of Peel Region President and CEO. "This is a start. There is more to do – today and over the medium and long term. We are encouraged by the momentum we’ve seen building across the region in terms of awareness and commitment. We look forward to continuing this work with community and government partners to ensure everyone has a warm place to sleep.”
Click to download infographic
“Last year, over 14,000 people including almost 4,000 children and youth used homeless shelters and transitional housing – right here in our community. There is significant need for increased crisis intervention, interim supports and long term prevention strategies."

Shelley White
President and CEO
United Way of Peel Region

The 2015/16 Community Impact report shows:

  • 101,970 individuals received the help they needed as they faced complex challenges including abuse, mental illness and social isolation
  • 71,486 children and youth who accessed programs are on a path to succeed, now and in the future
  • 34,140 individuals accessed United Way funded food programs that provided healthy and nutritious meals

Click to read the 2015/16 Community Impact Report.

Copyright © 2016 United Way of Peel Region, All rights reserved.
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Issue 7

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Issue 7, 2016 Way to Go!

And we're off!

United Way of Peel Region Launches it’s 49th Annual Campaign

On Friday morning, United Way of Peel Region kicked off it’s 49th annual Workplace campaign at the Vic Johnson Community Centre in Mississauga.

Kris Smith, 2016 Campaign Chair and Executive Vice President, Refining and Marketing, Suncor Energy Inc. and Shelley White, President and CEO, United Way of Peel Region kicked off the event that welcomed over 300 community members.

“Last February I participated in the Longest Night, it was cold, it was uncomfortable, it was eye opening. That experience has driven me to dig deeper. Knowing that there are men, women and children in our neighbourhoods in need – some sleeping in their cars has motivated me as the chair of the 2016 campaign.” said Kris Smith, 2016 Campaign Chair. "I am honoured and proud to lead this year's Campaign Cabinet.  Poverty in our community is a very real issue, but together we can do something about it. Together, we are possibility!"
Jasmine's story.
Jasmine shared her story of overcoming homelessness at the 2016 Kick-off.
In 1980, 2% of Peel’s neighbourhoods were considered low income. Today it’s 45%. The needs of the community have evolved. More people are struggling – many are working multiple jobs to make ends meet, supporting an ill family member, or struggling to find work. With the continued support of concerned people throughout the region, United Way is working to reduce, prevent poverty and support those in crisis right now.

“In our community, there are people among us that do not have a roof over their heads or enough to eat. Your support is what changes lives. Together we are making Peel a safer, healthier, and more vibrant community.” said Tom Dyck, United Way of Peel Region Board Chair and Financial Services Senior Executive, TD Bank Financial Group.

“Poverty can happen to anyone at any time,” said Shelley White, President and CEO, United Way of Peel Region.  “We will continue working with our partners because we know the need is growing. This year, together with all of our supporters and volunteers, we aim to impact over 200,000 lives. Our ultimate goal is to eliminate poverty in Peel.”

The kick off was generously sponsored by Suncor Energy Inc. Breakfast was provided by: COBS Bread Highway 10 & Eglinton, COBS Bread Meadowvale and COBS Bread Michael Angelo’s.
See all the pictures from Kick-off
The word, poverty, conjures up stereotypes and myths. There is a lot of shame and stigma around poverty. And that is unfair. Because, the truth is, we are all susceptible to falling into poverty.

Poverty can happen to anybody.

Marriage breakdown. Family Illness. When more than 50% of people are only one paycheque away from financial crisis, it’s easy to see that it doesn’t take much for someone to tip over that invisible line and fall into poverty.

One in five children in Peel are living in poverty - higher than provincial and national averages. Over 222,000 people in our community are struggling. Parents are working more than one job to make ends meet, children are coming to school hungry and our emergency departments are seeing the impact of what happens when people lose their homes.

People are often surprised to learn of the need here. This is true for a few reasons. Poverty is hidden in our neighbourhoods, we don’t have “ghettos” per se; and the reality is there is a stigma associated with financial struggle. No one wants to talk about being poor. But it can happen to anyone at anytime.

This is why United Way is focused on preventing and reducing poverty. Together, we bring the wisdom and resources of people from all sectors to reduce poverty, prevent poverty and support people living in crisis right now.

Any teacher, nurse, social worker or police officer will tell you poverty is a big thread that runs through many social and health issues in our neighbourhoods. Poverty is a complex issue which requires a multi-faceted response.

We can change this. Together, we are possibility. Possibility happens when:

  • Children are empowered to reach their full potential.
  • Everyone has a warm place to sleep and enough to eat.
  • Groups come together to tackle important social issues.
  • Victims of violence are safe and empowered to rebuild their lives.
  • Neighbourhoods have the assets they need for residents to thrive.
  • Young people are ready for the job market.
  • There is access to social service supports when and where people need them.
  • Our most vulnerable populations finding a way out of poverty – permanently.
Change is happening right here. Join United Way of Peel Region today:


  • Give to United Way of Peel Region. Every contribution - big and small - helps move people from poverty to possibility, helps kids thrive and builds strong communities.
  • Participate in Eating on the Edge in October. By pledging to spend two days on the #PeelPovertyDiet you will gain a better understanding of the complexity of poverty in our community. Help create awareness and raise funds for people struggling. Sign up at


  • Ask your representatives from the federal, provincial and municipal governments what they are doing to alleviate poverty in your neighbourhood.
  • Suggest your workplace run a United Way campaign.
With your support, last year United Way helped over 207,000 people across Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga.

  • 71,486 children and youth were placed on a path to succeed in school and life, now and in the future.
  • 101,970 individuals received the help they needed as they faced complex challenges including abuse, mental illness and social isolation.
  • 34,140 people who are either experiencing or vulnerable to poverty were supported and empowered.
Thank you for being a partner with United Way. You are driving social change right here at home.


Learn about United Way of Peel Region's
Women's Leadership Council

Day of Caring is October 6, 2016

Issue 8

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Issue 7, 2016 Way to Go!

Thank you!

A Message from United Way CEO, Shelley White

Today is National Philanthropy Day. You probably didn’t even know it. And yet today is all about celebrating you!

National Philanthropy Day recognizes everyone who is committed to doing good – be it through giving or volunteering. I’d like to thank you for everything you have done to make our community a better place.

Thank you for your support of United Way of Peel Region.

Read more about the impact that you have had in our community through your support of United Way of Peel Region in our Impact Report.

Together, we are possibility. Together, we changed over 200,000 lives last year.

How has United Way changed your life? It is so inspiring to hear how peoples lives have been changed as a result of the generosity, kindness and compassion in our community.

Send us your stories and pictures to It's so inspiring to hear your stories.

What does your donation look like?

A clear path forward


What does your donation look like? Meet Distant.
Distant struggled with drugs and alcohol. It was not long before the addiction was controlling his life. But, with United Way’s help, Distant learned to manage his addiction—and reconnect with his culture.
Distant Thunder knows what it’s like to grapple with your identity. Growing up in the foster-care system as an Aboriginal boy in a predominantly white community, he struggled to fit in. “Kids teased me,” he says. “I was different.”

But, he also knows what it’s like to lose your identity altogether. As an adult, working in the fast-paced hospitality industry, Distant began using drugs and alcohol to cope with work demands. An addiction that increasingly controlled his life.

“I remember finally looking in the mirror and asking myself if this was really how I was going to live the rest of my life,” he recalls. For this reason, he turned to a United Way community agency for help.

Fortunately, he was able to access a program that helped him deal with his addiction. An Aboriginal life-skills program provided the supports he needed to get clean, including counselling, healthy living and employment workshops. At the same time, it was a window into a world that he had repressed for much of his adult life.

“This program immerses you in Aboriginal culture, from floor to ceiling,” says Distant. And, while confronting his addiction, he welcomed the opportunity to reconnect with his roots, through ceremonies, art, music and traditions. “There’s no judgment,” he adds. “I can share my struggles with people who have had similar experiences. I don’t have to hide anything here.”

Stories like these show how United Way is working to ensure that the most vulnerable people in our society can get the help they need. And they’re proof of how gifts like yours are creating innovative, local solutions to some of our community’s most complex social issues.

Today, Distant is on the path to a better life—one defined by clarity. Because he’s confident in who he is: “I’m Aboriginal,” he says. “I now feel a great sense of pride saying that.”
Join us on February 17 for #LongestNightPeel

Issue 9

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Issue 9, 2016 Way to Go!

Seasons Greetings!

A Message from United Way CEO, Shelley White

The holidays are here! Between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, most people make a big dent in their seasonal shopping. There are so many fabulous deals! But have you heard of Giving Tuesday?

Every year, on the day after Cyber Monday, companies and individuals join together to make our community a better place. Giving Tuesday celebrates and encourages activities that support charities and nonprofits be it making a donation, volunteering time or helping a neighbor.

It can be a great time to find the perfect gift for that person who already has everything. They’re impossible to buy for so consider making a charitable gift on their behalf. There are several options:
  • Give the Gift of Possibility
    Choose from a variety of gifts that make an impact in your community. You can give the gift of healthy food or the gift of someone to talk to. Each gift comes with a printable card suitable for gift giving.
  • Subscribe to the Impact Box
    With the Impact box, you will receive a monthly update detailing the impact your donation (complete with an unboxing video) is making in Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga. Monthly subscriptions are available for $25, $50 and $100.
  • Make a donation
    I’m thrilled to share that when you make a donation to United Way of Peel Region by December 31, it will be worth TWICE as much! A generous donor has offered to match every online gift*!
  • Make a gift of securities
    Did you know that United Way of Peel Region can accept gifts of securities and mutual funds? A gift of this nature entitles you to receive a charitable tax receipt for the fair market value of the donation, while not being subject to any capital gains tax.

Wishing you and your family a warm, happy holiday season.
*gifts will be matched to a total value of $150,000

What does your donation look like?

Living life to the fullest

What does your donation look like? Meet Rita.
Rita Greham-Benjamin coped with the loss of her husband by staying social—participating in recreational activities and making new friends at a United Way seniors program
Whether a friend, parent or spouse, losing a loved one is a devastating experience. For Rita Greham-Benjamin, the day her husband passed away was the day her life completely changed. She didn’t just lose her husband—she lost her best friend.

“I missed Alfred in so many ways, but I especially missed his company,” says the 79-year-old. “I got used to sitting at home alone. I knew I needed to find something that would make the transition of life without him easier.”

Despite research showing that seniors who participate in social activities are more likely to report positive health and well-being, one-fifth of all seniors in Canada are like Rita—left to struggle through daily life alone.

That’s why United Way invests generous donor support to help break through this isolation and help seniors live healthy, independent lives. We fund agencies that provide critical support through community-based programs, including meals on wheels, home visits, social and recreational activities, and arts and cultural programs.

For Rita, she found exactly what she was looking for because of your gift—a seniors centre close to home offering a range of programs and services.

“It opened my eyes to all the things that I could still do,” she says.

Today, Rita visits the agency almost every weekday. You can find her taking exercise classes, playing card games and doing crafts.

And, her connection to the community continues to grow. Recently, she decided to volunteer at the agency, helping people with Alzheimer’s in the adult day program with meals and activities.

“I wanted to give back to an agency that has given me so much,” says Rita. “The friends I’ve made here are not just within these walls. There’s always someone just a phone call away.”

Indeed, it’s these friendships that have truly changed Rita’s life in a way she could have never imagined.

“I didn’t think I could enjoy life this much after my husband’s passing,” says Rita. “This place gives me a sense of living again.”
Donate online by December 31 and your gift will me matched 100% - effectively doubling your donation up to a total value of $150,000
Take a test drive today at Volvo of Mississauga and Volvo will donate to United Way.

Gifts of Securities

In each of us, there is an intrinsic desire to give.

We give our time, thoughts, and money to causes everyday because it fulfills something inside us that connects us with a deeper meaning and a higher purpose.

Sometimes, we want to give but just don’t know how. The problems facing our community can feel insurmountable. It is important that donations make both an impact and “financial sense” for your family.

In addition to accepting donations via payroll deduction and online, United Way of Peel Region can accept gifts of securities and mutual funds. A gift of this nature entitles you to receive a charitable tax receipt for the fair market value of the donation, while not being subject to any capital gains tax.

As a result, your gift of securities to United Way of Peel Region may produce a greater tax benefit than selling the shares and donating cash. The following exchangeable shares are eligible:
  • Shares, rights, bonds or debentures listed on a designated stock exchange
  • Shares of a Canadian public mutual fund corporation
  • Units of a widely held Canadian mutual fund trust
  • An interest in a segregated (insurance) fund trust
  • A bond or debenture issued or guaranteed by the Government of Canada or one of the provinces

Here’s a way you can donate with the peace of mind that there is a net positive outcome with your contribution, and at the same time provide you with some financial benefits.

If you would like to know more, visit or call Kimberley Soulière, Director, Individual Giving at 905-602-3633 or
Join us on February 17 for #LongestNightPeel