Celebration 2015

Come to our Campaign Celebration!

Campaign 2015 – our 50th year – has been a historic one. Join us to celebrate this milestone and everything we’ve achieved together!

When: Wednesday, January 27, 2016
Where: Victoria Inn Hotel & Convention Centre, 1808 Wellington Avenue
Cash Bar – 5:30 p.m. with live music from Dirty Catfish Band
Dinner & Program – 6:30 p.m.
Tickets: $45 / Groups of 10 tickets: $400

RSVP by January 20, 2016 by buying tickets online, or by calling Angela Bishop at 204-924-4266 to buy them over the phone. Capacity is limited so reserve your ticket today!

See you at Celebration!

Centre helping to give immigrant families hope

United Way-supported Immigrant Centre helps 16,000 per year

By Jessica Botelho-Urbanski for the Winnipeg Free Press. 

For a Jamaican family that spent nearly 10 years shuffling paperwork between the provincial and federal governments, trying to gain permanent resident status in Canada was worth the wait.

In April, Noel and Judith Parkinson-Davis got a large yellow envelope in the mail that foretold theirs and their four kids’ future in the country they already called home.

Judith Parkinson-Davis with her husband, Noel, and their 16 month-old son Caleb at the Immigration Centre. RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Judith Parkinson-Davis with her husband, Noel, and their 16 month-old son Caleb at the Immigrant Centre. RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

The Parkinson-Davis family has lived in Winnipeg since 2006, venturing back to Jamaica for occasional visits.

Their 16-month-old son, Caleb, was born in Winnipeg and despite its cold winters, the city feels like home, Judith said.

When Noel opened the seal on the yellow envelope and took a peek inside, he did a little victory dance.

The family members had been granted permanent resident status, after years spent fretting over official documents and fine print.

“I did it because I had help through the Immigrant Centre, and I didn’t make any mistakes. I was always doubting myself that I can’t do it, that I’m going to fill it out, but it’s going to be wrong,” Judith said.

“When I saw all the paperwork came back approved, I felt proud that I actually took the time not only to get help, but to get it done.”

The family credited one very special person who worked with them at the Immigrant Centre on Adelaide Street.

Jorge Fernandez was their go-to caseworker, guiding them through an often confusing maze of immigration laws.

After 23 years in a variety of roles, Fernandez is now the executive director at the Immigrant Centre, overseeing all the centre’s programming and client work.

He called Judith a fighter, having watched her sort through hundreds of immigration forms for her family and never giving up.

“Now, finally, she’s a permanent resident and like her, there are so many successful clients that we see every year. Sometimes a client will come to us and say, ‘I’m not going to be able to do it.’ They start crying and say, ‘I’m going to go back home,’ ” Fernandez said. “We tell them, ‘You know what? We are going to help you.’ ”

The Immigrant Centre also provides dozens of other programs, from English conversation classes to nutrition lessons, computer coursework and citizenship training.

Thanks to funding from the United Way and other government sponsors, the centre is able to help 16,000 immigrants per year get access to their wide range of services.

About 1,000 people per year come to the Immigrant Centre to deal with residency status, work permits and immigration paperwork specifically, like the Parkinson-Davis family.

If you would like to help by the Immigrant Centre with a donation to United Way Winnipeg, visit www.unitedwaywinnipeg.ca/help or call 204-477-UWAY (8929).

REPUBLISHED WITH PERMISSION FROM THE WINNIPEG FREE PRESS PRINT EDITION OCTOBER 3, 2015.

Youth resource program flies its flag proudly

LGBT community finds safe haven in centre’s support group

By Jessica Botelho-Urbanski for the Winnipeg Free Press. 

When Shawn Lagimodiere made his way back to the Rainbow Resource Centre (RRC) this week after a year away, he said it felt as welcoming as ever.

Lagimodiere, 21, gave his old youth counsellor, Dianna Grywinski, a hug before they ventured into the Peer Project for Youth room, a large lounge near the back of the Scott Street building, a few blocks from the heart of Osborne Village.

Shawn Lagimodiere, left, chats with youth councillor Dianna Grywinski, right, at the centre. BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Shawn Lagimodiere, left, chats with youth councillor Dianna Grywinski, right, at the centre. BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

The lounge boasts big comfy couches, an in-suite kitchenette and a flat-screen TV, which Lagimodiere noticed as a new addition right away.

“Just walking in, you see all the (rainbow) flags, you see all the signs — it’s a very welcoming environment. So honestly, I don’t think anything’s really changed other than the inanimate objects,” he joked.

RRC has been supporting the LGBT community in Winnipeg for 41 years, and its Peer Project for Youth program has been sponsored by United Way Winnipeg since 2006.

The program is a support group for LGBT youth and hosts evening sessions on Mondays and Wednesdays, and a field trip every third Saturday of the month.

Youth get together for educational presentations and skill-building classes. They learn practical things such as self-defence and banking, and also have fun with some good old-fashioned movie nights, bowling outings and arts and crafts.

Feeling confused about his sexuality at 16, Lagimodiere did an online search for counselling services and was surprised to find the program.

“I was looking more towards counselling, but as soon as I found something on Google that was with youth, I was surprised because I wasn’t expecting to see that,” he said. “A lot of people who come here are trying to seek help and trying to seek who they are within themselves, like me. Trying to fit in.”

Lagimodiere was in the closet when he attended his first session at 16. After getting hit on by another participant, he realized he wasn’t ready for the new environment just then.

“(The other participants) were so open about whom they were and here I was — I wasn’t really as open as I am now. So it was very overwhelming,” he said.

He came back more confident at 18 and attended Peer Project for Youth faithfully for two years.

He still returns on occasion and said he’s referred friends to the program.

The support Lagimodiere felt from his RRC friends and counsellors helped him battle depression. He also worked up the courage to come out to his family.

“I just kind of went out straight. I was like, ‘Hello Ma, I love you. Um, I’m bisexual,’ ” he remembered. “She was just going on about her day, and she was like, ‘What? Oh, OK. I already knew.’ ”

Grywinski said she’s witnessed many success stories such as Lagimodiere’s at RRC. Still, she would like to see the stigma surrounding the LGBT community stop so support programs such as this are no longer necessary.

“I think it’s therapeutic in itself having this program because it gives folks the support if they’re not sure yet; it gives them that kind of freedom to explore. It offers a space that celebrates your identity and fosters resiliency,” she said.

“In some ways, I kind of hope that (the need for the program would stop). I’d be out of a job,” she added, with a laugh. “But yeah, that would be incredible to live in a world where we just accept who we are and get along and be at peace.”

If you would to help Rainbow Resource Centre with a donation to United Way Winnipeg, visit www.unitedwaywinnipeg.ca/give or call 204-477-UWAY (8929).

REPUBLISHED WITH PERMISSION FROM THE WINNIPEG FREE PRESS PRINT EDITION november 7, 2015

Volunteers helping patients ease their final days on Earth.

United Way-supported Palliative Manitoba helps people at the end of their journey, and the people who grieve for them.

By Jessica Botelho-Urbanski for the Winnipeg Free Press. 

When people near the end of their lives, Irvine Hildebrand helps them knock items off their bucket list.

Hildebrand, 73, has volunteered with Palliative Manitoba since 1997, helping terminally ill people live their final days comfortably, whether in home or in hospital.

Irvine Hildebrand has been volunteering with Palliative Manitoba for nearly 20 years. JESSICA BOTELHO-URBANSKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Irvine Hildebrand has been volunteering with Palliative Manitoba for nearly 20 years. JESSICA BOTELHO-URBANSKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

He’s been matched with more than 25 people over the years and helped them accomplish things others might consider mundane, such as going for lunch at a food court.

“Another chap I remember, we would go out just about on every visit… we would take off to a shopping centre, St. Vital Centre or Polo Park or somewhere for lunch. His background was that he’d been in sales and he wanted to see what the customers were still doing in the stores. It was as if he’d gone back to work. He just loved it,” Hildebrand remembered.

He told another touching story about a man he took care of who wanted to visit his wife in her personal-care home. She had Alzheimer’s.

“They just sat there together holding hands,” Hildebrand said. “They sat the same way and I swear they never spoke two words that whole afternoon. But going home, he couldn’t stop thanking me for that phenomenal visit he had.”

Helping people fulfil small wishes such as these has also been rewarding for Hildebrand.

He started volunteering with Palliative Manitoba after he retired and was looking for a new purpose.

The sad reality is many people don’t make time for caring for the ailing or elderly anymore, Hildebrand said. So now he has time to lend a hand, he does so regularly.

“That’s the main reason we get involved. Family just doesn’t have the time. It’s not that they don’t want to (care for their relative). In North American society now, the priority is work,” Hildebrand said.

Palliative Manitoba also offers bereavement services, on top of one-to-one care where volunteers are matched with patients to visit.

The organization keeps afloat thanks to donations from United Way Winnipeg, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and fundraising efforts, notably the Memory Tree placed at St. Vital Shopping Centre during the holidays (The Memory Tree is actually a bereavement service rather than a fundraiser. Up to December 24 people can write a message on a beautiful card to place on the tree to acknowledge and remember lost loved ones.)

United Way has provided core funding to Palliative Manitoba since 1992 and, through agencies like this one, hopes to help thousands of more Winnipeggers struggling with unexpected tragedy, disability, or physical and mental-health issues.

Hildebrand will help with the Memory Tree starting next month. He’s also waiting for a new person to start visiting — his last companion died a few weeks ago.

He’s ready to listen and visit again. It’s the best gift he — or anyone — can provide someone in their final days, he said.

If you would to help Palliative Manitoba with a donation to United Way Winnipeg, visit www.unitedwaywinnipeg.ca/give or call 204-477-UWAY (8929).

Republished with permission from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 24, 2015.

Celebrating our amazing Sponsored Executives!

Our Sponsored Executives make it possible to help more than 250,000 Winnipeggers!

About 300 United Way friends and family gathered on Wednesday to celebrate those who make workplace campaigns a success – Sponsored Executives and the generous organizations who make it possible for them to join United Way for 14 weeks.

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The Sponsored Executives were presented with thank you poster placards featuring all their pictures , along with sharpies so they could sign them for each other.

SEs sign the back of each others thank you plaques.

SEs sign the back of each other’s thank you plaques.

SEs (from left) Ayaan Shire, Marie Tichborne, and Jacqueline Proulx show off their thank you placards.

SEs (from left) Ayaan Shire, Marie Tichborne, and Jacqueline Proulx show off their thank you placards.

They were recognized on stage for their incredible work. On cue they raised placards displaying 215,000 – the number of Winnipeggers that will be helped by campaign dollars raised so far.

SEs show off how many Winnipeggers will be helped by dollars raised so far.

SEs show off how many Winnipeggers will be helped by dollars raised so far.

“You make it possible to engage and mobilize thousands of Winnipeggers in hundreds of workplaces each year,” said 2015 Campaign Chair Kelvin Shepherd.

The Class of 2015, with event MC 103.1 Virgin Radio's Chrissy Troy.

The SE class of 2015, with event MC 103.1 Virgin Radio’s Chrissy Troy.

“The class of 2015…in just 14 weeks you’ve made a big impression.”

SE Yvette Deveau photo-bombs SEs Enisty Fahmy (from left), Erinn Hannay, and Samantha Ginter

SE Yvette Deveau photo-bombs SEs Enisty Fahmy (from left), Erinn Hannay, and Samantha Ginter

Ward Keith of platinum event sponsor MPI told the Sponsored Executives the work they do to help United Way raise campaign dollars changes lives.

“Not just the lives of people United Way helps, but it changes your life, so I hope you get joy from that.”

Katie Dubienski and Curtis Shonoski point to their names on the SE listings.

Katie Dubienski and Curtis Shonoski point to their names on the SE posters on display.

MaryAnn Kempe of Birchwood Automotive Group and co-chair and champion for United Way’s Leadership Development Program thanked the sponsoring organizations “for giving us your best.”

“Our 37 Sponsored Executives are passionate, energetic, and creative. They unleash the kindness and generosity of Winnipeggers.”

SEs Barry Lundin and Jan Murowski.

SEs Barry Lundin and Jan Murowski.

Sponsored Executive Zoran Vicovac of the Workers Compensation Board spoke as the 2015 SE Valedictorian.

He talked of growing up in the North End and credited his mother and late father for instilling in him a desire to give back to his community.

2015 Campaign Chair Kelvin Shepherd (left) poses with SE Valedictorian Zoran Vicovac and Zoran's mother Gina and wife Sylvia.

2015 Campaign Chair Kelvin Shepherd (left) poses with SE Valedictorian Zoran Vicovac and Zoran’s mother Gina and wife Sylvia.

“My father, he was the type of person, God rest his soul, he would give his last dollar…my parents planted a seed in me.”

All it requires for the effects of homelessness, poverty and mental illness to take hold, “is for good men and women to do nothing,” he said.

With recognition of the hard work thus far by all divisions complete, Kelvin had a challenge for everyone to get us to our 2015 goal.

“Last year we helped about 250,000 people, and we’d like to touch even more lives this year. We know there are kids and families counting on us.”

As we gather with family and friends to celebrate the holidays, let’s all think of one person we could inspire to help us change a life by supporting the campaign this year.

We’re all in this together Winnipeg. Thank you!”

SE Patty Magrath

SE Patty Magrath

Erick Nduwimana put his selfie stick to good use!

Erick Nduwimana put his selfie stick to good use!

2015 Sponsored Executives

Debra Akister
Don Allan
Evelyn Crate
Yvette Deveau
Katie Dubienski
Ben Durand
Miracle Ehiremen
Mark Essenburg
Enisty Fahmy
Kendra Fontaine
Samantha Ginter
Erinn Hannay
Kevin Haywood
Jennifer Isaak
Tamara Borgesen Kaminsky
Christopher Kirton
Barry Lundin
Trevor MacHutchon
Patty Magrath
Ian McLaren
Jacqueline Melito
Mike Messer
Jan Murowski
Erick Nduwimana
Brittany Neufeld
Rosemary Kamchen Oakes
Shawna Peterson
Jacqueline Proulx
Deb Radi
Derek Resch
Brian Saulnier
Ayaan Shire
Curtis Shonoski
Amanpreet Sidhu
Bev Smith
Marie Tichborne
Zoran Vicovac

Sponsoring Workplaces

Birchwood Automotive Group
Canada Revenue Agency – Winnipeg Tax Services Office
City of Winnipeg – Water and Waste Department
City of Winnipeg – Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service
City of Winnipeg – Winnipeg Transit
Credit Union Central of Manitoba, Assiniboine, Cambrian, Casera, Entegra, Steinbach and Winnipeg
Police Credit Unions
Family Services and Labour
Health Science Centre
Johnston Group
Manitoba Housing & Community Development
Manitoba Hydro
Manitoba Justice, Manitoba Health & Healthy Living
Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries
Manitoba Public Insurance
Mercer Bradley
MGEU
MTS
National Leasing
New Flyer
Payworks Inc.
PriceWaterhouseCoopers LLP
Province of Manitoba – Department of Labour & Immigration (Employment Standards)
Province of Manitoba – Entrepreneurship, Training and Trade, Jobs and the Economy
Province of Manitoba – Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship
Province of Manitoba – Tourism, Culture, Heritage, Sport and Consumer Protection
Province of Manitoba – Children and Youth Opportunities
Public Safety Canada – Emergency Management & National Security Branch
Quintex Services Ltd., MNP LLP & Mercer Bradley Inc.
RBC Launch Program Associate
RBC Royal Bank
Scotia Bank
TD Bank
The Great-West Life Assurance Company
The North West Company
Vector Construction Group
Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Company & Wawanesa Life Insurance Company
Workers Compensation Board
WRHA