United Way Greater Toronto President and CEO Daniele Zanotti shares his thoughts on why now, more than ever, it’s important we come together as a community to support our most vulnerable friends and neighbours.
These are challenging and uncertain times. But the research is clear and consistent. Community matters. Especially in times of crisis, the stronger the sense of connection—local people working together—the more resilient the community.
And we are resilient. We are a community that cares about each other. We at United Way see it every year. Call it an uprising of care. People like you showing local love. Donating, volunteering, all so the place where you live and work is great—for all.
COVID-19 is putting our community’s most vulnerable people in an extremely challenging situation. Those who already face significant barriers, including poverty, homelessness and social isolation, need even more of our help during this time. This crisis may last weeks or months. And we need our social infrastructure—that invisible network of agencies people visit, call and rely on every day in your neighbourhood—to be in place now and in the future.
As the largest investor in social services next to government, we’re working closely with United Way’s front-line agencies to identify the gaps, needs, trends and opportunities that may be emerging locally.
We’re helping them navigate change, and offering them flexible funding so they can do what they do best: meet urgent needs for people. These front-line United Way community agencies are working in new ways to ensure that those who are most vulnerable in our communities have access to the critical supports they need, close to home.
Across the GTA, we’re working with the City of Toronto, Peel Region and York Region to continue connecting our network of more than 270 agencies to deliver emergency response plans. These targeted steps will continue the important work United Way and our network of front-line community service agencies deliver every day to support people experiencing poverty in the GTA.
And beyond the GTA, across the province, local United Ways are working hard to support local needs. Helping that mom and dad, both working part time gigs, keep food on the table. Reaching out to that youth struggling with mental illness. Making sure the personal support worker can visit your frail 92-year-old neighbour. The need for support, close to home, has never been so vital. The need for community so clear.
And people have been reaching out, asking what they can do.
- First take care of yourself and your family. Take a moment to connect with your community. Call your elderly neighbour, video-chat with a friend who lives alone, email someone who may be isolated.
- Reach out to your local United Way to find out how our network of services and programs are helping people in your community. Ask if and how you can volunteer.
- If you need help yourself, call 211: a phone line that can connect you to the right information and local community services.
Because in times like these, people matter. All people. And community matters. The caring ties that connect and bind us. All of us. In a united way.
This article originally appeared on Toronto.com.