SMS Engineering shares their generous spirits.

SMS Engineering’s United Way workplace campaign was an event-filled week.

The Winnipeg-based engineering firm, which shares a birthday with United Way (happy 50th anniversary, SMS!), began their workplace campaign last week by hosting United Way agency speaker Denise Allard.

Denise is a client and volunteer with CNIB, and an advocate for people with disabilities.

“She told a fascinating story of her life. It was really good,” said SMS’s employee campaign chair and engineer-in-training Andrew Schinkel.

The SMS United Way campaign committee, from left, Sheila, Bridget, Andrew, and Jason, with breakfast.

The SMS United Way campaign committee, from left, Sheila, Bridget, Andrew, and Jason, with breakfast.

The week included events and activities like a Ukrainian lunch and putting green and basketball contests, and ended with a full breakfast Friday with bacon, pancakes, fruit and all the fixings.

“SMS has been a big supporter of United Way,” said Sponsored Executive Tamara Borgesen Kaminsky, who was interested to learn that SMS was involved in the design of United Way’s Main Street building.

Sponsored Executives Zoran, Enisty, and Tamara with Ukrainian deliciousness.

United Way Sponsored Executives Zoran, Enisty, and Tamara with Ukrainian deliciousness.

Andrew was pleased with the participation of his co-workers.

“Ultimately it’s to give back to the community. To help others.”

Thank you, SMS, and happy birthday!

Bridget on bacon duty!

Bridget on bacon duty!

Sponsored Executives Evelyn and Curtis helping get breakfast served.

Sponsored Executives Evelyn and Curtis helping get breakfast served.

Workplace of the Week: Nav Canada gets together for our community.

Every year Nav Canada, the private nonprofit that manages Canada’s civil air navigation service, hosts a national campaign that raises money for local United Ways across the country.

Nav Canada United Way Workplace Campaign

This year Winnipeg’s Nav Canada campaign grew enormously, from 17 donors the previous year to an impressive 43 donors!

We spoke to Employee Campaign Chair (or ECC—the workplace volunteer who manages the whole United Way campaign) Marie-Pier Berman to find out more about Nav Canada’s Winnipeg campaign.

United Way: How did you manage to engage so many more coworkers in the campaign this year?

Marie-Pier Berman: I wanted to do things that would raise awareness of the benefits of investing in United Way, while increasing enthusiasm for the campaign.

When asked to take on the role (of ECC), I researched our local United Way branch, and in so doing realized how much I wasn’t aware of. I wanted to share that knowledge with others.

What Nav Canada made possible through donations to United Way of Winnipeg.With the help of our United Way Sponsored Executive, we put together a slide show of interesting facts, and also selected the slides that I thought would have the most impact, and posted them throughout our workplace.

This served two purposes: it helped to educate people, showing them how their donations have helped in the past, and it encouraged them to donate again.

At our campaign kick-off, employees had the chance to hear from some spectacular speakers who had used the services of United Way when going through difficult times in their lives.

(We had) activities like raffles for Jets and curling tickets, prime parking spots, give-aways for the Winnipeg deep-freeze during the winter months, and our biggest hit of the year – a Tailgate Party to end our campaign!

Nav Canada Tailgate Party

United Way: What was your favourite campaign moment?

Marie-Pier Berman: My favourite moment was seeing everyone come together to help with the Tailgate Party. We had never done something like this before, so we didn’t know if it would be a success or a flop!

Numerous employees put up their hands to provide food for the event. Seeing one hundred people line up to partake, made it all worthwhile.

Seeing everyone donate and enjoy mingling at these gatherings increases our camaraderie and engagement, and we love having happy employees!

United Way: What do you think inspired so many of your coworkers to give this year?

Marie-Pier Berman: I think through increased knowledge, people were surprised by things they were learning about the United Way organization.

The speakers at the kick-off spoke from the heart and our employees were able to relate. It’s always a good thing to take a moment to reflect on the good things we have in life and be able to give back.

Nav Canada's Quantum Leap Award, given for amazing increases in workplace campaign participation.

Nav Canada’s Quantum Leap Award, given for amazing increases in workplace campaign participation.

It has been a pleasure being the local chairperson for the 2013 United Way campaign here in Winnipeg, I am very proud of what we have achieved this year.

I can’t take all the credit for our successes; I am lucky to be surrounded by a great team of individuals who helped me put all these events together!

2013 campaign off to a soaring start!

United Way Winnipeg - Plane Pull 2013 - Steve Chipman“The sky’s the limit when it comes to Winnipeg’s generosity,” said Steve Chipman, 2013 Campaign Chair at United Way’s 10th annual Plane Pull and Campaign Kickoff at Red River College’s Stevenson campus.

Chipman said the goal this year is to break the $20 million barrier, and he expressed confidence Winnipeggers would rise to the challenge.

Chipman noted that $7.5 million, or 37.5 per cent of the goal, has already been raised at workplaces whose campaigns have already started. Over 1,000 workplaces will run United Way campaigns over the next three months.

Cassandra Gagne and Bill Henry, two of the faces of this year’s campaign video, were on hand to remind everyone what the money raised means to people in Winnipeg. Gagne’s heartfelt speech about moving from her life as a high-school dropout and teen mom to earning her degree in nursing with United Way’s support brought tears to people’s eyes. “From the bottom of my heart, thank-you,” she told the crowd.

Henry lost his speech and he and his family struggled for three years after he suffered a stroke. Thanks to services supported by United Way, he learned to speak again and uses his voice to educate and inspire others. “You never know what life is going to throw at you,” said Henry. “Tomorrow you could wake up and your world has changed. You may have to start over again. Thank goodness for the support from United Way, so that you can.”

A record 1500 Winnipeggers, including 55 teams, participated in Plane Pull 10, competing to see who could haul one of two massive jet airplanes the fastest. Team Winnipeg Free Press won the competitive division with a time of 7.34 seconds, while Red River College won the fun division with a time of 6.72 seconds. National Leasing’s zombie-themed team won for best costumes, while Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre, a United Way agency partner, won best cheer.


Find action packed pics from the day, and tag yourself in the Facebook Album here.

And all the team photos are available on Flickr

Plane Pull Results:

Team Steam (Competitive Pull) Winner – Winnipeg Free Press
Team Steam (Fun Pull) Winner – Red River College
Team Scream Winner – Ma Mawi Chi Itata Centre
Team Theme Winner – National Leasing

Fun Pull Results

Competitive Pull Results

1 Red River College 6.72 1 Winnipeg Free Press 7.34
2 Megill-Stephenson Company 6.97 2 Canad Inns 7.60
3 PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP 7.03 3 17 Wing/C.F.B. Winnipeg 7.72
4 CN Rail 7.40 4 Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre 7.84
5 Canada Revenue Agency – Winnipeg Tax Centre 7.41 5 PCL Constructors Canada Inc. 7.90
6 RBC Royal Bank 7.47 6 Canadian Tool & Die Limited 7.91
7 Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries 7.63 7 Pollard Bank Note 8.00
8 University of Winnipeg 7.66 8 Magellan Aerospace Corporation 8.06
9 The Great-West Life Assurance Company 7.69 9 StandardAero 8.12
10 Richardson International Limited 7.69 10 Microsoft Canada Inc. 8.16
11 CIBC 7.78 11 Ricoh Canada Inc. 8.41
12 Custom Castings Limited 7.79 12 Labour Team 8.43
13 Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba 7.84 13 Red River College 8.47
14 The North West Company 7.88 14 Price Industries 8.53
15 Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Company & Wawanesa Life Insurance Company 7.93 15 New Flyer Industries Canada ULC 8.56
16 Mona Lisa Ristorante Italiano 8.03 16 RCMP D Division 8.60
17 Winpak Ltd. 8.06 17 Winnipeg Airports Authority 8.91
18 Cargill Limited 8.31 18 City of Winnipeg – Chief Administrative Offices 8.93
19 Boeing 8.43 19 The Winnipeg Sun 8.94
20 Agency Team 8.56 20 Diagnostic Services of Manitoba 9.16
21 National Leasing 8.56 21 MNP LLP 9.25
22 Grace General Hospital 8.97 22 United Way of Winnipeg 9.25
23 MTS 8.97 23 Manitoba Hydro 9.59
24 Johnston Group Inc. 9.10 24 AAA Alarms 9.68
25 Manitoba Public Insurance 9.25 25 Deloitte 10.50
26 Tundra Oil & Gas Partnership 9.34 26
27 Taylor McCaffrey LLP 9.47 27
28 Winnipeg Regional Health Authority 9.53 28
29 Cambrian Credit Union 9.75 29
30 2013 Campaign Cabinet 10.9 30

Thank You Sponsors:

United Way of Winnipeg - Campaign 2013 - Plane Pull 10 Sponsors


Having fun and giving back at Cigi

The Cigi chicken toss in action!

From rubber chicken throwing to selling pasta by the bag and chances to win half a day off, there were no creative stones left unturned at the Canadian International Grains Institute‘s United Way campaign this year.

The rubber chicken toss gets everyone smiling so much it’s become a bit of a tradition, explains Employee Campaign Chair Christey Allen. “We run it at the beginning of the campaign – people pay $2 per toss, stand at the far end of the room, and have to try to throw a rubber chicken into the bucket, and all the money raised goes to United Way.” It’s a surprisingly tricky feat to achieve, she added “Usually only one person every year can manage it and get the prize!”

But what made it a true success was the giving spirit of the Cigi employees “People are more than willing to help out,” said Allen. “With United Way, what’s great is there’s such a diverse range of ways they are involved in helping the community. It gives everyone something to connect to.”

Thanks Cigi!

Investors Group rallies with a relay

Investors Group employees race around a track in the lobby as part of a fundraiser in support of United WayVisitors to the Investors Group building last Wednesday were treated to an unexpected sight in the lobby – employees blazing around an improvised racetrack on scooters!

A little unconventional for a financial services company? Definitely – but it was all explained when passersby saw the “United Way Event in Progress” sign on the door. As part of their workplace campaign in support of United Way, dozens of employees formed teams to compete in a relay with events like Flip the Cup, Survivor Puzzle, and of course, the lobby scooter race, complete with colour commentary from 103.1 Virgin Radio’s Chrissy Troy. The eventual winners? Fast and Furious: Analyst Drift.

But behind the fun and games of their workplace campaign is a strong commitment to support their community – last year, Investors Group raised an amazing $452,000 for United Way.

“When someone asks me why they should support United Way,” says co-Employee Campaign Chair Ryan Solomon, “I bring out the booklet of agency partners and show them. There are just so many agencies supported by United Way, and most of us have no idea. It doesn’t just help those that are in poverty, it touches everyone’s lives. It’s all over the whole city and I don’t think a lot of people realize it.“

Seeing that list of agencies hit home for co-Employee Campaign Chair Jodi Hargreaves. “We try to show the personal stories of United Way, and mine is one of them. One of my children is affected by ADHD, and the Family Centre (a United Way agency partner) was instrumental in setting up support. That was a real touchstone for me, to know firsthand what my contributions support.”

Thanks for everything, Investors Group!

Labour rises and shines for United Way

Campaign Chair for 2012 Doug Finkbeiner serves up flapjacks

The labour community rose early and shone with support for United Way last Wednesday, kicking off their 2012 United Way campaign with a fundraising breakfast at the Union Centre.

Emceed by Winnipeg Labour Council President Dave Sauer, participants heard from retired regional director of CUPE Sandra Oakley, and after signing up to be dunked at last year’s labour kickoff, 2012 Campaign Chair Doug Finkbeiner stepped up again this year to share his thoughts and serve up stacks of pancakes to attendees.

Across Canada, union members donated more than 56% of the total dollars raised by local United Ways in 2011. Here in Winnipeg, the labour movement is a key piece of our history. United  Way of Winnipeg was formed in 1965, through a partnership between the Winnipeg Labour Council and the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce.

“At the end of the day, union members live in the community and it’s the whole community that benefits from the services that United Way makes possible,’ said United Way Labour Director Charlotte Prokopow.

To show support, every union in the building chipped in a door prize to help raise funds at the event. Thanks to the volunteers for helping out and showing your support!