Hope. Stability. Opportunity. Because of you, there is a way.

Thanks to Winnipeggers’ extraordinary generosity, United Way of Winnipeg will have the resources to maintain a stable network of essential programs and services for the coming year.

Comm news - Celebration 2009

Children from Wi Wabigooni School celebrate Winnipeggers' extraordinary generosity during a media conference to announce United Way of Winnipeg's 2009 campaign achievement.

Over the next few weeks, once all outstanding donations are received, Winnipeggers will have succeeded in raising $18.2 million for our community through United Way’s 2009 campaign.

“I am humbled by the outpouring of kindness I’ve witnessed these past days and weeks,” said Jeff Zabudsky, 2009 Campaign Chair, when he revealed the achievement during a press conference at Portage Place shopping centre on January 14, 2010. “Winnipeggers possess a spirit of community like no other. This is a very proud moment for our city.”

Faced with a shortfall for the first time in decades, United Way issued an urgent call to action over the holidays and Winnipeggers responded with the selfless determination for which this city is renowned. Several organizations reopened workplace campaigns and topped up corporate gifts; people walked in off the streets to make donations; and long-time loyal friends generously contributed additional gifts.

As a result, more kids in Winnipeg will be safe from the threat of gangs, drugs and life on the streets. More families will achieve greater financial stability and regain hope for the future. And more neighbours will be able to connect with one another to address common issues like safety, violence and isolation.

Every dollar of every donation to United Way’s campaign will be invested directly back into the community where it will support programs and partnerships that inspire lasting change, better lives, and a safer, stronger Winnipeg for everyone. This includes support for nearly 100 agency partners throughout the city.

Thank you to each and every Winnipegger who invested time, money or both to ensure United Way is able to continue changing lives. Your support is a gift of hope that ensures our community remains stable today and can emerge stronger tomorrow.

Donations help fix what war rips apart

By: Matt Preprost

Winnipeg Free Press, Saturday November 28, 2009
Reproduced with permission.
Photo: David Lipnowski/Winnipeg Free Press

Red Cross program reunites families

In the news - WFP Nov 28/09 - Red Cross

Jennifer Montebruno helps reunite families separated by war or disaster through Red Cross program that is funded by the United Way.

To the untrained eye, Jennifer Montebruno is just like everyone else.

But for many, she’s a hero and a reason for hope.

The 32-year-old works as humanitarian issues program co-ordinator with the Canadian Red Cross in Manitoba. A major part of her job is running the Restoring Family Links program, helping to reunite families who have been separated by conflict or disasters around the world.

Montebruno deals frequently with immigrant families who find themselves in Winnipeg, separated from their families because of war, disaster, or other crises. It’s Montebruno who plays detective and works with other Red Cross agencies around the world to help track them down.

“Last week, a Winnipeg mother from Africa came in seeking to find out what happened to her five children,” Montebruno said. “The last time she saw them there was militia knocking at the door and the father was killed.

“We began the tracing request and were able to find all of them in a refugee camp. For the first time in five years, she saw pictures of her children and got messages from them.”

The Red Cross chapter of Manitoba received nearly $300,000 from the United Way this year. A large chunk of that helps Montebruno run Restoring Family Links.

“The program) helps Winnipeggers deal with trauma and find peace. What a wonderful way to assist someone who has just come here and help them find their children!” she said.

Montebruno also works in humanitarian law and promotes leadership in Manitobans, working with everyone from youth to seniors. Montebruno said she’s learned many people are born with the same passion to help as she was.

“The Manitoba flood was the perfect example,” she said. “There were volunteers here day and night working on their own time assisting people they hadn’t even met.”

Even the kids are enthusiastic, she said. Cheques from schools to help disaster-stricken areas like the Philippines are a common sight.

“One thing I’m always amazed by is the ability of kids and schools to pick up the pace,” she said. “They’re raising money in six weeks with their own volition. Kids (are the) savviest generation, they know what’s going on around the world, they see it and want to make a difference.”

Montebruno herself got involved with humanitarian issues when she began volunteering with the Red Cross in Grade 12. As she grew up, she moved on to other work, but said when she moved to Winnipeg from Ontario eight years ago, her career began to fall into place.

“All of sudden my brain just clicked. I wasn’t involved, I had left and had done other things in my life,” she said. “As I took the bus to school I saw the Red Cross building every day. I was ready to come back.”

Montebruno has been working in her current position for the past 18 months and is set to graduate in December with a degree in international development studies from the University of Winnipeg.

The sweet smell of success

Winnipeggers really sunk their teeth into Cupcake Day for United Way, with 420 dozen sold (that’s over 5000 cupcakes) and almost $3 000 raised for United Way’s work in our community.

Comm news - cupcake day - nov 09The morning of Cupcake Day, Thursday, November 19, cars lined up at confusion corner where media partner Curve 94.3 broadcast live. Hosts Sarah & Jay handed out free newspapers and coffee with every dozen delicious, gourmet mini-cupcakes sold.

A huge thank you to The Cupcake Corner for baking a difference in our community and to Winnipeggers everywhere who made the event such a sweet success.

CMHA aims to break down mental-health misconceptions

By: Matt Preprost

Winnipeg Free Press, Saturday November 21, 2009
Reproduced with permission.
Photo: Joe Bryksa/Winnipeg Free Press

CMHA marking 25 years in Winnipeg

In the News - WFP Nov 21/09 - 25 years of CHMA

Nicole Chammartin of the Canadian Mental Health Association, which has launched a new campaign to get Winnipeggers to open up about mental health issues.

The world seems to speed up all the time, and humans are struggling to keep up.

“We’re stressed in new ways we haven’t adapted to,” says Nicole Chammartin, executive director of the Winnipeg division of the Canadian Mental Health Association. “There’s not a lot of down time and disconnect from messaging. We have a hard time backing away from it.

“We begin to see it as a danger and we’re programmed to respond to danger. It’s hard to decompress from that.”

The evening news used to be scary. “They were terrorized in their own home,” the anchorman would say.

But now the world of instant 24-7 news and media messaging is impossible to escape: absorb, react, repeat.

Flip the channel, click refresh; it’s all the same. The world is broken and falling apart, the headlines say, and there’s no time to digest all the information.

The result is a surge in mental illness.

One in five Canadians has a serious mental health issue, a number almost certain to rise, Chammartin said.

“Long-term stress accumulates in our minds, like plaque in our arteries and building up in our collectively psyche and wearing us down,” she said.

The CMHA has operated nationally since 1918, working with and advocating for people with mental issues as minor as anxiety and stress and as major as depression and schizophrenia.

The agency marked its 25th anniversary in Winnipeg Nov. 18 and this year received more than $300,000 from the United Way to continue its support, education and advocacy programs here.

Chammartin said the money helps keep the agency’s information referral service flowing.

The Winnipeg office on Ellice Avenue sees 2,000 people a year seeking help to navigate the system and figure out where to find treatment.

One-third of the calls are for rights consultation, Chammartin added.

“The reality is people with mental illness more likely to live in poverty and substandard housing and more likely to have their rights infringed in some way,” she said.

The number of sufferers may be increasing, but the stigma remains, Chammartin said, and educating the public to break down that stigma is a difficult task.

“People feel very challenged to speak openly about their mental issues,” she said. “People are really confused about the difference between mental health and mental illness. The common belief is that they are the same, when in fact that’s not the case.

“Mental health is something we all have and need to protect. I think because they’re so closely related so you often hear people say, ‘I don’t have mental health or it doesn’t affect me.’ But it does affect us all.”

To mark its anniversary, the agency launched an online survey to determine what Winnipeggers think about mental health programs and services.

“The people of Winnipeg are our stakeholders,” Chammartin said. “But we’re challenged by how we engage Winnipeggers in that conversation of where mental health resources should be going.”

$4 million to go

With only a short time remaining in United Way of Winnipeg’s 2009 campaign for lasting change and better lives, Chair Jeff Zabudsky is urging participation from all Winnipeggers. “Everyone, every penny, and every contribution counts,” he said. “Today we celebrate the doer, the achiever; the individuals who recognize the challenges before us and choose to do something about them.”

comm news - report session 3

Volunteers and agency partners at United Way's Report Session 3 exemplify participation in action

Jeff made his comments during United Way’s Report Session 3 at Red River College, where it was revealed that Winnipeggers have already raised $14.2 million or 78% of United Way’s total goal this year: $18.2 million plus. Incredibly, over $1 million arrived in a burst of generosity just one day earlier.

“Now it’s up to the rest of us to participate in creating hope and opportunities for all Winnipeggers,” Jeff said.

By helping United Way achieve its 2009 fundraising goal, Winnipeggers will ensure United Way’s essential network of nearly 100 agency partners remains intact and available when people in our community need these resources most.

Resources like those offered by Nor’West Co-op Community Health Centre; a United Way agency partner where guest speaker Lisa Janke is a Community Developer. “Your participation in United Way’s annual campaign is helping create opportunities for all Winnipeggers to fully participate in our community,” Lisa told the crowd of close to 200 volunteers and agency partners.

To further demonstrate the power of participation, Steve Kirby, Director of Jazz Studies at University of Manitoba, helped attendees turn a room full of individual noises into a harmonious symphony of sound.

With eight weeks to go and $4 million yet to raise, United Way is counting on Winnipeggers to participate in ensuring our community remains stable today and can emerge stronger tomorrow.

Without you, there would be no way!