Women United grants bolster ‘creativity, energy, and hope’

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Gender-based violence, unequal access to support and resources, and risks to economic well-being are just some of the many issues that have, and will continue to, disproportionately threaten women during this global pandemic.   
 
We know the challenges women and their families face year-round are amplified by COVID-19, making the work of United Way—and Women United—more important than ever. 

70% of Canada’s job losses from February-April 2020 were jobs held by women—many of whom were working part-time in low-paid service and care work.   

Canadians in severely food-insecure households are seven times more likely to report moderate or severe anxiety symptoms than those in food-secure households.   

42% of Ottawa residents reported that their mental health and emotional wellbeing was worse after March 2020.

United Way East Ontario’s Women United brings together a community of passionate members who leverage their time, talents, and funds to empower women to build strong, independent lives. During the pandemic, the group is focused on fueling local initiatives that will help these chronic issues. One of the ways Women United members make a meaningful impact is through small investments called Community Action Grants.   

What are Community Action Grants?

Community Action Grants offer Women United members a unique opportunity to play a more active role in their philanthropy and improve local lives. These grants provide residents in vulnerable neighbourhoods with the chance to come together and identify projects that will help break down barriers and serve community needs.  

Over the last month, a team of Women United members participated in the assessment process for Community Action Grants. Women United plans to invest in six grants addressing issues that have been exacerbated by COVID-19, such as food security, social isolation, and mental health. 

“For me, the opportunity to participate in the assessment of our Community Action Grants is a great privilege of being a member of Women United and the key aspect that attracted me to this giving initiative. It is incredibly rewarding to see what these communities can achieve with a small amount of funding and a huge amount of creativity, energy, and hope. I am grateful to be part of this inspiring process.”

— Catherine McKinnon, Women United member

Strengthening food security

  • Russell Heights residents plan to secure plots at a local community garden to engage their neighbours in an effort to reduce isolation and food insecurity. They will also offer workshops to teach skills like canning and healthy meal planning.  
     
  • The City View Community Association will create a community garden project and host virtual workshops to educate participants on preserving food, cooking, and garden maintenance. They hope these social activities will improve mental health and reduce isolation for both senior women and young mothers. 

Reducing social isolation

  • The pandemic has been hard for many parents and caregivers. The Banff Community Girl’s Youth Group, made up of girls ages 10 to 17, will plan and execute a special event to acknowledge and celebrate their parents, under the supervision of the Banff Avenue Community House. The youth will learn leadership skills and participate in activities around strengthening the relationships between mothers and daughters. 
     
  • The Manordale Women Community Initiative will offer bi-weekly virtual community gatherings for women and local residents. They hope to establish a safe network for low-income and newcomer women to create connections, foster neighbour relationships and identify COVID-19 related priorities—such as food security, mental health, employment, and isolation. 
     
  • The Sawmill Creek Women Committee will offer parenting workshops. They will also promote social interaction and strive to reduce feelings of isolation with their “chai and chat” event and book club.  

 Improving mental health and wellbeing

  • YouVoice  is a project for racialized youth created by racialized youth. Programs and activities  are centred  around promoting positive mental health and connection in a safe space.    
Behind every woman are the women who have her back.

Interested in making an impact in the lives of local women? Consider becoming a member of Women United today.  

By joining our local chapter, you can be part of an initiative that connects to a national and international movement. Globally, Women United includes more than 75,000 women across six countries and 165 communities. 

"Being involved in the assessment process enables me to feel connected to the charities I support; like I am really making a difference.  More importantly, it has educated me on the various needs in our community."

— Lori Stinson, Women United member
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