By contributing to UBC’s United Way fundraising campaign, staff and faculty help prevent childhood poverty, bullying and senior isolation
The kids running around, laughing and enjoying the games at Carnival Days were blissfully unaware the event was put on to tackle a growing concern in Vancouver’s Victoria-Fraserview neighbourhood.
“Our goal was to get the community more connected and to help youth feel like they belong,” says Carrie Lai, a second-year Sauder School of Business student, who began volunteering with the Engaging Neighbourhoods Initiative in high school.
Lai grew up in Victoria-Fraserview and felt that her community needed more opportunities for youth to get to know one another and build friendships outside of school. Working with the Engaging Neighbourhoods Initiative, she helped host events where kids could get outside and play together.
She remembers meeting a family that was new to Canada one summer. Their seven year-old daughter didn’t speak much English but they wanted her to make friends before school started. The family came to a carnival event and the daughter started having fun and trying to speak English with another girl.
“She was so excited,” says Lai. “The carnival helped her transition to the community.”
To continue her work with the Engaging Neighbourhoods Initiative after starting at UBC, Lai secured support from the UBC-Community Learning Initiative.
“We met with a representative from the United Way to talk about getting more funding for programs and activities,” says Lai. “They liked that our programming targeted youth in their middle years, ages 6 to 12, but they wanted us to create more connections between youth and the rest of the community.”
UBC and the United Way
Every year UBC partners with United Way of the Lower Mainland and United Way of the Central Okanagan to raise money for over 190 non-profit organizations.
This year’s campaign kicks off October 7 and aims to raise almost $600,000. The goal is to have 860 UBC staff and faculty donate through monthly payroll deductions.
“When I was a high school student I volunteered with after-school children’s programs at the South Vancouver Neighbourhood House, an agency that United Way funds,” said Paola Baca, chair of the UBC Community United Way campaign. “Here I found my first job, made lifelong friends and learned about my community. I wanted to give and I got so much more in return.”
“I am very proud of UBC’s partnership with United Way and the generous contributions of time and donations made by my UBC colleagues. I donate through monthly payroll deductions because I know firsthand how United Way-funded programs give kids a caring place where they feel a sense of belonging.”
UBC-Community Learning Initiative
Many UBC students who work or do research through the UBC-Community Learning Initiative (UBC-CLI) often participate in projects related to the programming the United Way supports, preventing childhood poverty, bullying, and senior isolation. Some students even work alongside community partners that receive funding from United Way.
Programs like the Engaging Neighbourhood Initiative, which evolved through a partnership between the UBC-CLI and the United Way, create safe and healthy activities for kids to connect with their community. Youth who report having more support in their community are also more likely to have high self-esteem, optimism, overall health and happiness.
“The United Way and Community Learning Initiative entered into the Engaging Neighbourhoods Initiative partnership in an effort to determine how collaborative, community-driven processes could contribute to resolving complex and interconnected societal challenges,” says UBC-CLI Director Susan Grossman.
“Given the continued growth of the Engaging Neighbourhood Initiative program, I’d say we tapped into something quite profound.”
For more information about UBC’s United Way campaign, visit: www.unitedway.ubc.ca