Winnipeg celebrates United Way’s new home.

The United Way Talking Stick.

Key players: Artist Nancy Chew invites United Way relocation supporters to try out the talking stick, a keyboard for a music and light driven public art installation incorporated into the fin wall of the building’s Main Street entrance.

It was a housewarming like no other!

On November 18, 2010, Winnipeggers celebrated the official opening of United Way’s new home at 580 Main Street in the heart of the city. Government officials joined United Way volunteers, agency partners, loyal friends, supporters and staff for a day-long event beginning with a media conference in the building’s main floor atrium.

Manitoba’s Deputy Premier Rosann Wowchuk spoke on behalf of Premier Greg Selinger, whose plane was delayed in Thompson. Vic Toews, Public Safety Minister and MP for Provencher brought greetings from the federal government, followed by Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz, who gave a warm welcome to the neighbourhood and expressed appreciation on behalf of all Winnipeggers.

Along with generous support from a small group of United Way supporters and committed Winnipeggers, all three levels of government have been integral to the project; providing stimulus grants to ensure absolutely no donations to United Way’s annual campaign were used to fund construction. CentreVenture also contributed to and managed the land acquisition, while Cambrian Credit Union assisted with mortgage considerations.

Following the media conference, guests were invited to step outside for the unveiling of the building’s public art installation. Created by Jacqueline Metz and Nancy Chew, and titled You, You & You, the artwork is comprised of 11 lights representing the Braille for “YOU,” activated both automatically and by interaction with a cast aluminum talking stick that also triggers audio notes on the pentatonic scale. Inspired by the idea that together, we can make something great, the artwork invites passersby to see, listen and participate, and reflects United Way’s efforts to bring Winnipeggers together in meaningful ways.

Winnipeggers had an opportunity to tour the new building throughout the balance of the day.

The result of collective vision and leadership, United Way’s new building embodies Winnipeggers’ commitment to each other, our city, our environment and our future. It sits at the hub of an essential network of nearly 100 agency partners and programs – half of which are within a 15-minute walk – and represents a central space where Winnipeggers can connect and collaborate to create lasting change and better lives for everyone.

Based on comparable leasing options and due to its green design, the new building will contribute to reduced operating costs as well as to the revitalization of Winnipeg’s core. The main floor Innovation Centre is already home to fledgling social entrepreneurs with big ideas for improving lives in Winnipeg.

United Way is providing the resources and support they need to get their ideas off the ground. There is also a learning centre where non-profit organizations can build knowledge and capacity in areas like human resource and financial management, leadership development, evaluation, governance, planning and marketing.