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2018: A year of local love


Year after year, day in and day out, Ottawa depends on United Way to improve lives, break down barriers and create opportunities for people across our city. 2018 was no different. This is our Ottawa. This is local love. Take a look back with us:

We celebrated the city we love and the people that make it special.

In 2018, we recognized 22 local change-makers with Community Builder Awards. Our recognition team went out into the city and surprised volunteers with awards that celebrate the organizations, partnerships, agencies, neighbourhood groups and individuals who work tirelessly, often without recognition, to make Ottawa a better place for everyone.

At the annual Community Builder of the Year Awards gala, we also recognized seven people and organizations who left an indelible mark on our community—those who give through action, passion, empowerment and time.

In September, we had a big celebration of all the Community Builders who have made our city great over the past two decades by unveiling a new Wall of Inspiration dedicated to their work at City Hall.



While the names of Community Builders live permanently on the Wall of Inspiration, we wanted a place to share these hyper-local, underappreciated stories of people making waves across Ottawa. So starting in March 2018, we partnered with Apt613 to share the stories of Community Builders – so even more people will know just how lucky Ottawa is to have them.

We rallied our community together After the Storm.

On September 21, 2018, a devastating storm ripped through Ottawa. Multiple tornadoes touched down in the region, causing significant damage to houses and local hydro grids.

Many of the city’s leading organizations responded, led by United Way Ottawa, to form After the Storm — an important partnership where all members come together and plan for recovery. The group shares data and expertise, identifies the city’s needs, and collaborates to invest and deploy resources where they are needed most and will have the greatest impact.

With the phenomenal support of the community behind us, United Way Ottawa raised more than $540,000 for tornado relief and recovery efforts—investing very quickly to help with basic needs, support for isolated seniors, mental health, and food security. We also held ongoing meetings with community partners and on-the-ground response organizations to make sure no one was forgotten in the wake of the storm.

We were fortunate that CUPE 503 and Canada’s music industry jumped on board to support residents affected by the storm. These groups organized the After the Storm Tornado Relief Concert featuring Jim Cuddy Band, Sarah Harmer, Jeremy Fisher and 10 other Canadian musicians. The result? $55,000 raised for United Way Ottawa’s After the Storm, which we invested back into the community within days.

There’s still plenty of work to do, and United Way Ottawa is committed to standing with those most affected—today, next month, and next year.

We made a difference.

Each year, United Way Ottawa changes the lives of tens of thousands of people in Ottawa. In 2018, we were fortunate to meet many individuals impacted by the work of United Way. Here are the stories of just a few people we helped last year, and the ways we’re making change in Ottawa:

  • We invest in programs that ensure people facing a mental health, addictions or personal crisis gets the help they need, when they need it—like Ron, who finds healing in the garden.
  • We believe every kid should have the support they need to achieve success: here’s how “School’s Cool” kept Noah on track to learn.
  • We’re working to end youth homelessness, by helping youth like Lawai work toward a brighter future.

We used data tools to highlight our community research.

Behind everything we do is rigorous data analysis and evidence that informs our decisions and helps us understand the diverse challenges facing all 107 Ottawa neighbourhoods.

In 2018, our partner Esri Canada highlighted some of the ways we use data and mapping technology to help our city’s most vulnerable. They featured our research on the growing population of seniors in Ottawa and how we used ArcGIS technology make the issue of vulnerability among seniors easier to understand. See for yourself!

Early in the year, our partner A Way Home Ottawa released a report that highlights the diverse experiences of young people experiencing homelessness in Ottawa. This report, funded by United Way Ottawa and written by youth with lived experience of homelessness, includes recommendations and calls to action to urgently address the issue of youth homelessness in Ottawa, with a focus on the different contexts that increase the vulnerability of youth.

Through research, consultation and analysis we’re able to identify where our community needs help the most and where our investments will show the greatest results.

We hosted a bunch more fun and successful events.

We have a handful of events that we hold on an annual basis because they:

  1. help us bring people together to celebrate Ottawa and spread the word about our work
  2. help us raise funds and awareness for valuable programs and initiatives in our city
  3. help us advocate for social change on issues that keep people living in vulnerable situations

In 2018, we revisited some of our favourite recurring events, alongside some brand new ones:

GenNext Mix & Mingles and Schmoozefest

Throughout the year, our GenNext Ottawa hosts five Mix & Mingles—networking events that connect Ottawa’s young philanthropic community and change-makers at unique, exciting venues across the city.

Each October, we put on a Mix & Mingle, but 10 times bigger, and we call it ~Schmoozefest.~ We pack more than 500 people into the Horticulture Building at Lansdowne to meet local People 2 Know, enjoy food and drink, network, and raise money for GenNext Giving Circles.

At Schmoozefest alone, we raised $14,376 for local initiatives that support youth mental health, LGBTQ+ inclusivity and social enterprises. All told, GenNext event attendees helped us raise close to $45,000 for these initiatives in 2018.

Beau’s Bike Ride

This fall, a record 338 cyclists rode the 117 kilometre route to Beau’s Oktberfest in Vankleek Hill – but not before raising an incredible $63,975 to support United Way’s work to help our city’s homeless youth move off the streets and into safe, sustainable housing.

Cooking Up Community Services

We count ourselves lucky when our generous donors take the lead on raising funds for United Way. Daljit Nirman and Nirman’s Law Professional Corporation hosted a free breakfast for the community, encouraging diners to donate to project step. The result was more than $15,000 raised for youth facing substance abuse issues in Ottawa. Egg-cellent!

BATL for Mental Health

Sometimes throwing axes can have a positive impact… our supporters joined us at Backyard Axe Throwing League (BATL) where they raised $7,500 for mental health programs in Ottawa. NAILED IT. BATL is one of our food and entertainment partners, so you can make a difference in our city by throwing axes year-round.

2018 was a year for the books, and it’s all thanks to people like you, who show local love by giving back to this city we call home. Thank you for helping us level the playing field, and we hope you stick with us for this upcoming year!




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