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United Way Awareness

1 in 4 people in the Fraser Valley use a service that the United Way of the Fraser Valley (UWFV) supports. In addition to its own initiatives, the United Way supports 27 local agencies.

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by Kylee Swadden (Contributer)
Email: cascade.news@ufv.ca

1 in 4 people in the Fraser Valley use a service that the United Way of the Fraser Valley (UWFV) supports. In addition to its own initiatives, the United Way supports 27 local agencies.

Lori Masse, UWFV’s Director of Resource Development shares, “This campaign’s tag line is ‘Because you live here.’ It is so important that residents know that every penny donated stays in the Fraser Valley.”

The UWFV has a very close relationship with UFV and their students. This mutually beneficial relationship provides real world, in class experience for students and invaluable help and fresh ideas for the organization. This semester the BUS 390 class, Advanced Selling, has been enlisted to cold call all of the licensed businesses in Abbotsford to ask if they would like to donate to UWFV.

The UWFV initiatives were developed based on feedback received from the community. These key initiatives include early child development, homelessness, affordable housing, and poverty reduction.

The first initiative is called Success by 6. Studies show that 28% of kindergarten-aged children have not developed the skills required to enter kindergarten. Tests have been administered to students in kindergarten, again in grade 4 and finally, in grade 10 and the results have shown that students who struggle at the beginning of their school career will struggle throughout, which is why UWFV believes that ages 0-6 are the most important years for development.

Fraser Valley Housing Network is another initiative through the United Way of the Fraser Valley, which creates opportunities for the 8,700 people in the Fraser Valley who do not have a permanent home.

The United Way also works in poverty reduction. Over 61,000 Fraser Valley residents struggle financially every year. UWFV’s third initiative, Vibrant Abbotsford, works to build economic, social and civic opportunities for all. They have been involved in many community-building services in Abbotsford over the last few years. Vibrant Abbotsford is also working with UFV CMNS 312 class this semester.

UWFV awarded a $10,000 impact grant to Autumn House, a place where people aged 16-19 who have been emancipated, in foster care, or on the streets can go with money they get from Ministries of Children and Families to pay their rent and be taught life skills.

Autumn House residents are taught how to grocery shop, cook, dress for a job interview, and do laundry. “Most stay at Autumn House for about 6 months and then move on, 80% of whom manage to live independently; that is huge. We’ve taught them how to fish so to speak,” Lori Masse states proudly.

More of the local agencies that UWFV provides grants involved in include: Fraser Valley Brain Injury Association, Fraser Valley Child Development Center, Canadian National Institute for the Blind, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, and 23 other agencies.

If everyone in the Fraser Valley donated $2 per paycheque, we could seriously impact lives. That is 16 times the impact of what we are fundraising for right now! And you get a tax credit,” Lori Masse explains. Their current goal for this year’s campaign is $750,000, and the campaign ends on December 31, 2010. All money donated until that date will count for this years’ contribution.

If you feel strongly about donating to a specific organization through UWFV, there is an option to clarify that on your pledge form. The cost of fundraising for most organizations is approximately 26%. However, the United Way of the Fraser Valley’s cost of fundraising is 15% because most of their workers are volunteers or loaned reps from other companies. In their time with the United Way of the Fraser Valley, these loaned reps acquire priceless experience in organizational skills, presentation skills, and sales skills; the skills that they develop in this time will set them apart from their peers in their individual careers.

The UWFV website amply explains: “Why Give to United Way? Because you live here, you care about your community. It is your coworkers, your neighbors, and your children that will benefit from a healthier, safer, stronger Fraser Valley. You support United Way because you see a bright and positive future.”

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