I have been so privileged and have had so many champions in my life - it’s important to me to be that champion for other people. As a community, when everyone feels like they have a champion and the resources to be the best they can be, we all benefit.
Paying it forward
Allison donates and leads the United Way campaign at her workplace because she knows what it’s like to need help.
I had a rough start as a teenager. I had a child at 19 and, because I didn’t have an education past high school, I was working a minimum wage job at a gas station. I was doing everything that I could to support my family but found it hard to make ends meet. Luckily, the food bank was there for me.
One of my biggest struggles while raising my son was feeling isolated. I didn’t know where to go or how to get the help I needed. It wasn’t until I reached out to the Boys and Girls Club that a lot of the challenges of being a single mother were finally met with solutions that ultimately put my life on the right path.
The staff there not only provided childcare and parenting programs, they helped my son overcome his own set of challenges. Sean is 16 now and he’s just wrapped up his third year as a Youth Leader with the Boys and Girls Club.
It wasn’t until years later that I realized United Way supports the organizations that had given me the opportunity to stand on my own two feet. Learning more about United Way was very empowering, especially when I became educated about all the people and organizations who work together to ensure that people can find a helping hand up when they face tragedy or stumbling blocks in life.
I only had an entry level position at the time, but I said, “You know what, I can easily donate $5 or $10, that’s a cup of coffee a pay cheque. It wasn’t very difficult." One year, I felt the urge to help others understand what poverty really looks like. I gathered up some courage and shared my story in front of all my colleagues.
Jaws dropped. They didn’t realize that their donations had impacted somebody that they care about and have worked side-by-side with for 10 plus years.
I think there’s a lot of misconception out there about the causes of poverty and what poverty actually looks like. You can have a very stable life one moment, then something happens and you’re afraid and don’t know what to do. By supporting United Way, you’re changing the course of somebody’s life, you really are. You are carving pathways out of poverty.