Working together was the theme on Thursday, August 10 at Lethbridge City Hall.
“Not all of us have the same strengths. Not all of us have the same weaknesses. But together, we can be powerful,” said United Way executive director Trudy Carrels to representatives of the 19 organizations welcomed as United Way Partners for the 2017-2018 funding year.
Following a year of rebuilding United Way’s stability, Carrels announced one by one, the organizations and programs that donations to United Way’s Community Fund will support.
“Your success is our success. Not the other way around,” said Carrels of the Partner Organizations. “We’re here today to celebrate your successes and thank you for your dedication to building stronger communities.
United Way has been able to increase funding to community organizations by $75,000 over the previous year and reach further into communities surrounding Lethbridge, including Claresholm, Fort Macleod and the Crowsnest Pass.
“Several years ago, there were no supports in Claresholm for people with disabilities,” said Orvella Small, executive director at Foothills SNAPS, a new United Way partner this year. “Now we have about 78 families that we serve in Claresholm, Fort Macleod and Stavely. “
Many of the individuals and families supported by United Way-funded programs have needs that program facilitators must be sensitive to.
Lucille Drader of Crossroads Healing Centre explains how one such program, Hope for Hurting Hearts, helps Indigenous women in healing emotional wounds caused by racism, parent-child separation, or abuse.
“As much as possible we want to use the language and methodology that is pertinent to them. We don’t want to impose anything upon them. It’s important for them to feel comfortable and respected as they begin to heal.”
The programs and services funded by United Way are chosen with the support of a team of community volunteers – the Allocations Committee.
“They come from all sectors and all walks of life,” said Carrels. “Each of them has a powerful influence in helping to create healthy, well-rounded, objective positions as to where our funding is directed, and they’re not easy decisions. Your heart becomes wrapped up in every single application.”
This year, United Way received 30 requests for program funding topping half a million dollars.
“I’m proud to say that following a year of hard work, we’re able to support 22 of those programs,” said Carrels. “We’ve really focused on programs that are going to be proactive in addressing needs. We know there will always be a need for reactive programs. However, proactive programs empower individuals to become more resilient, which in turn build stronger economies and stronger communities.”