2019: A Year in Review

5 MIN READ

Welcome to 2020!

It may be a new decade, but we’re working as hard as ever to build strong, healthy, safe communities for everyone. While we’ve got our eyes set on all we can accomplish in 2020, we also wanted to look back on all that we did accomplish together in 2019.

Join us as we revisit some of our most memorable moments from the past year:

We became United Way East Ontario.

In 2019, we announced our new name: United Way East Ontario.

Back in 2017, the four United Ways of Prescott-Russell, Ottawa, Lanark and Renfrew Counties joined forces to better tackle the greatest challenges facing individuals and families across our region.

We made the transition to United Way East Ontario because we know the challenges people face do not start and end at geographic borders. Issues like youth homelessness, isolated seniors, and our neighbours’ struggles with mental health go beyond neighbourhood and county boundaries, and affect us all.

As a single entity, we have the benefit of understanding, researching, and working on issues with both an urban and rural perspective. United Way East Ontario is well-positioned to respond to region-wide issues – like flooding in the spring of 2017 and 2019 – and neighbourhood-specific challenges – like educational achievement among youth living in low-income areas of Ottawa, or the high percentage of vulnerable seniors living in Renfrew.

We know we are stronger when we stand together and speak up with one voice, and we’ve been thrilled with the community response and support for our journey.

We supported our communities After the Floods.

In late April 2019, the spring thaw and record-setting rains caused massive flooding in communities across Eastern Ontario. Hundreds of families were displaced, homes were damaged, and many people were left isolated and afraid.

When the media reported imminent flooding, communities in Prescott-Russell, Ottawa, Lanark County, Renfrew County and beyond rallied together. Everyone from frontline and emergency service workers, to residents, volunteers, city officials, non-profit groups, and members of our Canadian Armed Forces worked together to make sure people were safe and taken care of.

At United Way, we know from experience that recovery from natural disasters continues long after the immediate needs are met. Invisible struggles linger. New, often unexpected challenges emerge.

Following the floods, we worked closely together with front-line agencies, local municipalities and partners to help those most in need, such as vulnerable seniors, those without insurance, and those living in low-income situations – and this work continues.

We connected women who are passionate about making a difference.

In September, we launched our local chapter of Women United.

Women United is a diverse, vibrant community of visionaries and change makers bound together by a powerful sense of belonging – to one another, to their community, and to the mission of transforming the lives of women.

Together, members of Women United leverage their time, talents and funds to empower women in their communities to build strong, independent lives, and create a world full of opportunity for all women.

Want to get involved? Learn more here.

We stood up to hate and violence.

This past November, we announced United for All: a group of 27 organizations, led by the City of Ottawa, United Way East Ontario, and Ottawa Police Service, that formed a coalition to coordinate local efforts to overcome hate and violence in Ottawa.  

The launch of this coalition was United for All’s first step to publicly stand up against issues like racism, homophobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, violence against women and more. Through planning and programming, the group aims to make Ottawa a welcoming city for all.

In recent years, Ottawa has seen a sharp rise in hate crimes and hate speech toward religious and cultural groups, Indigenous community members and more. In 2017, Ottawa ranked among the top 10 cities with highest reported hate crime rates in the country.

We’re grateful for community partners who continue to help us tackle the tough challenges in our communities, and we look forward to further collaboration in 2020—and beyond.

We stayed (and continue to stay) accountable.

We try not to toot our own horn too much, but we are proud to be named one of Canada’s top-performing charities, having earned a 4-out-of-4-star rating from Charity Intelligence, and making the independent research organization’s 2019 Top 100 Rated Charities list.

Charity Intelligence impartially analyzes the transparency, accountability and cost-efficiency of more than 720 Canadian charities—empowering donors to make informed, intelligent giving decisions.

Our rating puts us in the top 15 per cent of rated Canadian charities, and reflects our commitment to manage donors’ contributions wisely. Every donation we receive is put to work in the community where it was raised to help those most in need.

Additionally, United Way East Ontario (formerly United Way Ottawa) made the 2020 MoneySense Charity 100 list, and Maclean’s top 100 list of Canada’s best charities.

We analyzed the state of vulnerable seniors.

In 2019 we released A Profile of Vulnerable Seniors in the United Counties of Prescott and Russell, Lanark County, and Renfrew County – a research report studying the needs of seniors in the rural communities where we work.

This report represents one of the first times Ontario’s rural seniors, and particularly those who are vulnerable due to a variety of factors, are the focus of study. Rural Ontario is aging faster than the provincial average. Now more than ever, seniors are choosing to live in their current home and within a familiar community for as long as possible, even if their health changes.

The application of a “rural lens” is essential to all rural community and solutions planning, and is embedded into each recommendation in this report. This research allows us to make investments with the confidence that we are supporting the seniors and caregivers who need us most.

Community partners were enthusiastic about the report’s launch, and committees and working groups were launched in Prescott-Russell, Lanark County and Renfrew County to address the report’s recommendations.

As our population ages and the need for resources grows, we will all need to work with greater collaboration if we hope to meet the demands of this demographic shift.

We made a difference – together.

In 2019, 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:

2019 was a big year for us, and it would not have been possible without people like you! Thank you for spreading the local love with us, and supporting us as we work towards safe and healthy communities for all. We can’t wait to see what 2020 has in store—and we hope you’ll come along for the ride!

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