United Way granted easier access to municipal staff

Councilor Carmen McGregor displays her Chatham-Kent United Way shirt after her motion passes on December 10, 2018. (Photo by Allanah Wills)

United Way Chatham-Kent will now have the chance to get more support from the municipality.

Council approved a motion Monday night that will allow United Way representatives to access municipal staff and provide them with information and materials about the organization and the organization’s 2018 fundraising campaign.

Councillor Carmen McGregor championed for the motion. Having been involved in the United Way for over two decades, McGregor said the municipality has greatly declined in their support of the organization and employees aren’t as informed about the United Way as they used to be.

“I know the benefit that the United Way has within our community. They work with so many different organizations in Chatham-Kent and with programs that wouldn’t happen in our community without the support of the united way,” said McGregor. “In the past, it was always a part of the municipality to do a campaign. Things have kind of slipped off. There hasn’t been information out there.”

This year’s United Way’s fundraising campaign will end in mid-January. Donations raised during the annual fundraising period are used throughout the year for programs that the organization runs. McGregor said she hopes that by allowing the United Way the chance to come through municipal doors and talk to the employees over the next month, enough money will be donated to make a big difference, regardless of a short time span. In June, a report will be presented to council that will outline whether the collaboration was able to make an impact on the United Way’s fundraising goals.

“I look forward to the report to see how we can change things in the future. It’s kind of being rammed in quick this year to allow that campaign to get through. But, at least I know it’s going to be here,” said McGregor. “Who knows where it will go this year as far as contributions.  A lot of people may have already made their contributions for the year. The bigger portion will be the report that comes in June and working towards more of a permanent solution instead of a one-off here and there.”

The passing of the motion also means that municipal administration must provide support to any employees who wish to make a contribution to the United Way through payroll deductions.

Tom Slager, the director of donor engagement and communications with the United Way, made a presentation in support of the motion, highlighting over 40 services that receive contributions from the United Way. He also presented a graph to show how much municipality donations to the United Way has steeply declined over the time. In 2010, more than $75,000 was contributed, and in 2017 that number dropped to less than $23,000.

Fundraising for the organization has been a challenge overall.  Last year, for the third year in a row, the organization came up short of its campaign fundraising goal.

McGregor said she hopes this breaks the barrier between the United Way and the municipality and that she’s ecstatic to receive support from her fellow councillors for an organization that is so dear to her heart.

“I don’t think any one of us can say it hasn’t touched our way in one way or another,” McGregor said.