Citizens offer United Way vital input

By: Alana Cole

Winnipeg Free Press, Monday October 6, 2008
Reproduced with permission.
Photo: Mike Deal/Winnipeg Free Press

Survey gauges public’s view of agency’s work

In the News - WFP Oct 6/08 - Urban Exchange

Wilhelmina Klimpke, 96, has been involved with local causes as a volunteer for most of her life.

When the United Way put out a survey last year to see what Winnipeggers thought of their city, 96-year-old Wilhelmina Klimpke jumped at the chance to have her opinion heard.

“I’ve been doing surveys my whole life, because I’d rather do them than crossword puzzles,” said Klimpke, “I feel like I’m doing something worthwhile.”

The survey, Getting Connected, was part of the United Way’s Urban Exchange program. The goal was to ignite a dialogue between real Winnipeggers and the United Way, and find out which of the city’s social issues were most important to them.

“You got a chance to give your opinion and say what you actually thought,” said Klimpke, who has lived in Winnipeg for more than 60 years.

Klimpke has been involved with volunteer work, as well as fundraising, since she was a little girl. Now, she’s proof that anyone, at any age, can get involved and be active in what’s going on in their community. “(It’s) to make the city a better place to live in,” she explained.

The United Way launched the survey in May of last year. Participants were asked to comment on a range of topics, from what they liked or disliked most about Winnipeg, to what they have personally done to help their community.

More than 4,000 people, some as young as 10 years old, got involved in the Urban Exchange program. Results were then reviewed by the United Way to ensure its efforts to build a better city were going in the right direction.

The survey also gave the United Way the opportunity to see in what areas the public feels the agency might be lacking.

Eric Friesen, director of engagement at the United Way, said the organization was pleased with the survey’s success. “It was very exciting to see that so many people were interested in participating and having their voices heard,” said Friesen. “It’s all about engagement; everyone can and is invited to participate.”

Friesen explained that some changes may be made in the future, based on the survey’s results. However, he was happy to report that the majority of Winnipeggers were happy with the work being done by the United Way.

“Ninety per cent feel that Winnipeg is a caring community, which is quite positive,” said Friesen.

Some key results from the Urban Exchange questionnaire One: Getting Connected

Three top social issues identified by people who took the survey
50 per cent said youth crime and gang activity;
39 per cent said crime in general;
28 per cent said poverty.

Something positive

70 per cent of participants said that Winnipeggers, as individuals, can do something to help and make a difference.