United Way held their Annual General Meeting at the Cornwall Public Library in June. It was a full house as the community came to show their support and learn about the good work done by the United Way SDG this last year. Dignitaries present at the AGM were Carma Williams, Deputy Mayor of North Glengarry, and Mayor Towndale.
“I just want to take a few moments to acknowledge the important work that the United Way does in our community,” Mayor Towndale said in an opening statement, “I see many other organizations here that work in tandem or are funded by the United Way. It’s really good to see this full room this morning with a lot of community supporters here today.”
Before heading to Akwesasne for Indigenous Peoples Day, Towndale voiced his continued support of the Last Resort Program, which the City of Cornwall funded with $320,000 from the Social Services Relief Fund in 2023.
“The Last Resort funding has proven a very useful and important program to assist those who need help funding secure and safe housing,” shared Towndale, “We recently received a presentation at Council about the benefits of that program. I know there’s going to be an ask coming forward to continue that funding and I can say that it has my support and I think the support of our council, fully.”
Over the course of the AGM, Paul Desnoyers of MNP LLP presented the annual financial audit and United Way’s Chair of the Board Craig Fuller shared several success stories including United Way’s super successful 10th Annual Holiday Gala which raised $80,000 to support important programming in our community.
In 2023, United Way Centraide SDG welcomed two Youth Directors, Siri Neville and Victoria Broiullet at Day of the Girl.
“I think it’s a good way to be more involved in my community. I already like helping out with school, but I find this kind of takes it to the next level, especially since I’m graduating next year,” said Victoria, who enters her final year at La Citadelle in September, “My dad always said that to have fulfillment in your life you have to be involved in your community. Starting in September next year, something Siri and I have been working on together with Juliette is we are going to be allocating money to different high schools throughout SDG for committees and clubs.”
“It’s been super fun to be to be on this board,” added Siri, a fellow classmate at La Citadelle, “Just learning about some of the different things in our community… like all these projects that [United Way] supports, I didn’t even know existed. To be involved in a small way (hopefully eventually a bigger way) is really exciting.”
Executive Director Juliette Labossière presented a year in review PowerPoint presentation that showed why, despite all of the challenges people are currently facing, they are still very proud of the work they do and the number of lives they have positively impacted.
“This past year was tumultuous to say the least. There is no way anyone running a business, working in health care, or within the nonprofit sector would say that the pandemic is behind us,” opened Labossière, “Because the consequences of those difficult years remain with us, and sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel even appears to be fading. Needs are growing, waitlists are expanding, and there is no sign of relief at the pump, on our electric bill, at the grocery store, or the sky-rocketing rents.”
Despite those challenges, together with the members of the Regional Emergency Strategic Response Council (and many others) United Way Centraide SDG directly impacted over 12,000 people across the region. Since that number only considers individuals, it doesn’t measure the true impact when, for example, United Way helps a single parent family with three kids.
United Way shared how they couldn’t do what they do without help. When businesses and community organizations choose to go the extra mile and fundraise for United Way it makes a big difference. One great example of this is Urroz and Perch’s Home Sweet Home series of prints and postcards, a percentage of the proceeds of which are donated to United Way SDG. (A new expansion of the series is launching soon too!).
This year, the United Way SDG is investing $312,000 into the community. To ensure that they are serving the current needs of the community, all organizations funded by United Way must meet the criteria for the Social Development Council’s Vibrant Communities Safety and Wellbeing Plan, supervised by Carilyne Hebert.
Labossière announced a $45 investment into House of Lazarus, a new member agency whose Executive Director Cathy Ashby was present at the AGM. Ashby and her team operate a Community Hub and Warming Centre out in Morrisburg that serves vulnerable and homeless community members.
Along with raising and distributing funds to community agencies, United Way does even more themselves behind the scenes to help people in our community. They are dedicated to not only helping people who are struggling, but also figuring out how to support people before they get to that point.
“Susan works daily with individuals who are calling because they cannot keep up with their electricity bills. In fact, in the last fiscal year, she assisted 245 families apply for a monthly rebate on their hydro bill through the Ontario Electricity Support Program,” Labossiere shared, “She also assisted another 34 Cornwall Electric clients and an additional 7 Rideau St. Lawrence clients who were on the verge of disconnection get a handle on their bill with a one-time lump sum payment through the low-income energy assistance program.”
Presented at the AGM were several awards, including the 2023 Board Award to Gerard McDonald, Payroll Award to Seaway Express, 2023 Business Award to Canadian Tire Cornwall, and the Lou Stanley Award was presented to Nicholas Seguin, who could not be present for the AGM but pre-recorded two videos to share.