The Elgin-St. Thomas United Way helps to fund many of the agencies which are at the heart of Elgin-St. Thomas’s caring community. Focus on building a stronger Elgin County for the future is reflected in the agency’s identification of priority areas which this year included: From Poverty to Possibility, Healthy People, Strong Communities, and All That Kids Can Be. A decline in donations over the past several years has prompted the organization to seek community input.
In 2014 the list of agencies and programs which received funding: Big Brothers Big Sisters Elgin-St. Thomas (Community Based Mentoring Program); Canadian Mental Health Association (Inn Out of the Cold); Canadian National Institute for the Blind (Vision Rehabilitation Services / Independent Living Skills); Eat 2 Learn (School Nutrition Program); Elgin-St. Thomas Youth Employment Counselling Centre (Talbot Teen Centre programs Youth at Risk, Mentoring Program, Counselling and Homework Club), Epilepsy Support Centre (Support services, school-based education and Education Outreach); Pearce Williams Christian Centre (Sumer Camp Programs); Family YMCA of St. Thomas-Elgin (Strong Kids Program, Community School Program), Jabez Therapy Ranch (Therapeutic Riding program, Equine Assisted Psychotherapy, Equine Assisted Learning); Mennonite Community Services (Family Education and Support Program of Aylmer and Volunteer Driver Program); Second Stage Housing (Children’s Program), St. Thomas Elgin Unemployment Help Centre (The Advocacy Centre); The Salvation Army (Moms and Tots camp, school break day camps, ball hockey, children’s camps, seniors programs, food bank, school lunch program, coats for kids and utility assistance); Salvation Army Corrections (Community Alternatives for Youth)
Funding goes to the kind of programs which are likely to have multiplier effects on donated dollars. There is a strong youth and child emphasis with potential to impact the future. Many have volunteer components which can help funding dollars go a long way. Several provide a boost to individuals when they need it most. The organization estimates that the local agency touches on the lives of one-third of our County’s population.
United Way Elgin-St. Thomas also plays an important role as an active participant and discussion facilitator with other organizations which bring focus to the needs of those who live within the boundaries of Elgin County.
In spite of all that has been accomplished with funds raised through the Elgin-St. Thomas United Way since 1957, a decline in donations over the past several years, and shortfall in meeting campaign targets has been troubling. As the 2014 campaign draws to a close, the agency is reaching out to the community to determine its future. “The status quo is not an option,” states United Way president James Todd. “We need to change and we need our community to tell us what kind of change is needed. This is their agency.”
At the close of the 2014 fundraising campaign, scheduled for a public meeting on Thursday March 5, the United Way of Elgin-St. Thomas will immediately launch a 60 day campaign, dubbed ‘Reimagine the United Way.’ Chairing the Reimagine Campaign is Serge Lavoie, a recent addition to the United Way board. Serge will be reaching out to community leaders seeking input, ideas and financial support.
Full details of the Reimagine campaign, along with the final results of the 2014 fundraising drive, will be presented at a public meeting on Thursday, March 5 beginning at 4 pm at the CASO Station, 750 Talbot Street, St. Thomas. All members of the community are invited. The campaign will conclude with another special town hall meeting May 4.