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Oct. 17, 2021 | Sunday
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Supporting United Way: 'It’s a privilege to do this'
Bridget gets a sense of purpose from partnering with United Way. (Supplied)

Bridget and her husband Shawn have built their personal and company values around serving the community

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Bridget and Shawn are United Way supporters and volunteers. Since opening their own small business, they have made it part of their mission to support the community in any way they can. For them, this meant partnering with United Way and sharing their "local love."

“My husband Shawn and I feel our community involvement is a privilege. We get to do this, while so many people can’t. When we opened our own business in a small community, one of the first things we did was reach out to United Way. We wanted a partner to help us with the community engagement aspect of our business. Quickly we got involved as volunteers and we haven’t looked back.

Some people think you should only contribute to charities once you’ve made a profit. Shawn and I have a different perspective: We feel that you should give all along the way, not wait until you earn your millions, then make a big donation. We hope to do that one day, of course, that would be wonderful and grand. But in the meantime, we do what we can. I believe that if everyone gives a little, it adds up to a lot. 

My business and professional connection with United Way goes way back. My first job was at a community centre, which relied on United Way as a major funder. Later, when I started working in government in my twenties, I was tapped on the shoulder by my director who suggested I volunteer to run the office's giving campaign. They said that it was a great opportunity and would help my career. I did a lot of research to learn the ins and outs of United Way and eventually I became a leadership donor.

On a personal level, I gain a sense of purpose from partnering with United Way because they support local communities and people of all ages across the social spectrum. They have helped people who are near and dear to me, including friends and family members, those who had dementia, and who have struggled with mental health challenges, unemployment, learning disabilities and addiction.

With the pandemic, United Way partner agencies have had to deal with increased pressure on services, but it has also allowed them to educate people about serious issues. People who are struggling with isolation and depression often can’t afford counselling. Going through the list of United Way-funded agencies in this community, so many of them have a mental health component, which often gets overlooked. These programs are more critical than ever.

People may think that United Way is this big thing, but it’s very locally focused. It’s an umbrella organization, but all the money remains within the local community. There’s a simple phrase "local love" that really resonates with me because that’s what it’s all about.”

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