A few years ago, I came home from work to an unnerving discovery: my house had been burglarized. I was shocked to see our possessions strewn everywhere and devastated to find that items of sentimental value were missing. It’s the kind of incident you never expect will happen to you and your family.
When the police came to walk through my ransacked house, one of them made a remark that has stuck with me ever since. The officer commented that this was the act of a desperate person.
As I reflected on that, I realized that I’ve never had to feel that kind of desperation before. I don’t know what it’s like to struggle to survive. And because I love Winnipeg, I don’t want anyone in our city to have to live that way, either.
Together, my family and I decided that we want to help lift people up in our community before they get to that desperate point. Because that’s what Leaders do.
A Leader is someone who faces problems head on, rather than leaving them for someone else to solve. A Leader commits to showing up for their community, and is willing to ask people in their network to do the same.
Over a decade ago, I started to see what real, effective, community-minded Leadership looks like. In my twenties, I worked at two different employers and both hosted a United Way Winnipeg campaign every year. I didn’t know much about United Way, but I was intrigued by how driven our senior leaders were in their efforts to help strengthen our community.
One of the workplace campaigns needed volunteers to invigorate it, so I became involved to help move it forward. And the more involved I became, the more I saw the tremendous need for United Way in our community.
On one occasion, a staff member from Palliative Manitoba, a United Way Winnipeg donor-supported agency, came to speak at our office. He counsels people who are dying, along with their grieving families and caregivers. I was blown away by the value of the emotional support he offers bereaved families.
I was especially moved because at the time, one of my best friends had recently passed away at only 38 years old, leaving behind his wife and three young children. It was very tragic and highlighted for me how quickly any family can be placed in that situation. And yet, it gave me hope knowing there are United Way Winnipeg donor-supported agencies like Palliative Manitoba that meet families in their darkest moments with comfort, compassion, and care.
The reality is, you never know when you yourself might need a helping hand. I’ve seen so many people—neighbours, friends, co-workers—who were the last people you thought would rely on community services, but life took a sudden turn and they needed to reach out for help.
That’s why I give to United Way Winnipeg. As a Leadership donor, I’m helping to provide a safety net and support for my neighbours during those jarring moments that none of us expect.
With every gift, I’m supporting a network of over 100 agencies and programs working on the most urgent problems in our city—homelessness, addiction, mental health, poverty, employment, and more. I’m also pleased knowing that 100% of my gifts go directly into the community, with the Manitoba government covering all fundraising and administration costs for United Way Winnipeg.
As local philanthropist and United Way Winnipeg champion Bob Chipman once said, “The winners in this world are those who give.” Even if our gifts feel like a drop in the bucket, they all add up to millions of dollars that are transforming our community. We are and always will be stronger together.
It’s my generation’s turn to carry forward and build on the legacy started by United Way Winnipeg Leaders before me. Will you join me?