LETHBRIDGE - Traditionally, a do-gooder is a well-meaning person with unrealistic ideas of philanthropy, but United Way is looking to take back the word, and turn being a do-gooder into something positive.
“We want people to know that their actions and advocacy do make a positive difference in the community,” said United Way executive director Janelle Marietta-Vasquez. “Small acts of local good really add up. “
United Way is inviting all “local-loving do-gooders” to launch the 2019 United Way Campaign at Lethbridge City Hall on September 4 at 5:00pm.
“We’ve been in the community a long time,” said Marietta-Vasquez. “We know that many people in our community are struggling, or have struggled, or will in the future. We want to see people come together to help one another, and give people tools and support to improve their lives. That’s what United Way-funded programs do.”
In July, United Way announced it would provide funding in support of 20 programs at 18 different organizations in Lethbridge and south western Alberta. Among them are food access programs, supports for people with mental illnesses, social inclusion for new Canadian families, and literacy programs to reduce education inequality for children.
“Many of the issues we are aiming to address are well-known in the community, like the fact that Indigenous children live in poverty at higher rates than other Canadian children, both on and off-reserve,” said Marietta-Vasquez.
“Other issues are not as high-profile,” she explained. “Like the fact that many people coming out of correctional facilities are walking straight back into poverty and homelessness if there’s no system of supports for them. We see the homelessness but not always the reasons behind it.”
United Way board president Danielle Davids explained that bringing local issues to light is something United Way’s across Canada are focusing on right now.
“We can’t solve problems when we don’t know they exist, so we want to start by making them visible. That’s the point of the #UNIGNORABLE campaign that people are starting to see across the country.
Davids also said that it can be a challenge for smaller nonprofits and charities, and those in smaller communities to raise their voices loud enough to garner the support they need to fulfil their missions.
“Eight of the programs United Way is funding this year are outside of the Lethbridge city limits. Smaller communities face many of the same issues as we do here in Lethbridge, but have fewer resources to address them.”
While many social issues are not easily or quickly resolved, Marietta-Vasquez said that small acts of kindness are a positive first step.
“Loving your local community and caring about the people in it is a good thing. We want people to wear the “do-gooder” badge proudly.”
Donors, volunteers, and members of the public are invited to the United Way Campaign Kick-off event on September 4 at 5:00pm at Lethbridge City Hall.