United Way Sault Ste. Marie and Algoma District (UWSSMAD) works with local community groups, governmental agencies, businesses, individual donors, and volunteers in order to reduce poverty in the area.
“Poverty is not a simple issue. It is very complex and it involves multiple components. It certainly requires a number of organizations and governments working on it from multiple directions in order to have an impact,” says Gary Vipond, CEO of UWSSMAD.
That’s why UWSSMAD has broken down the large goal of poverty reduction into three main components: essential services, workforce entry, and food security. They work together with other community and governmental organizations to realize their common goal through meaningful work in these main areas.
“Essential services cover those things that help people to live day to day. If somebody is having trouble with paying their utilities, they can call us. We work together with the District Social Services Administration Board to help people facing eviction because of rent arrears. We also provide assistance if people have to leave the community for medical reasons and assist low-income families with income tax returns so they can maintain their old age income security, disability tax benefits, or other government supports,” Gary explains.
Workforce entry supports
The workforce entry pillar of the UWSSMAD’s strategic plan helps people get the training they need to find meaningful employment. They support the YMCA’s afterschool program that helps children and youth through mentoring and tutoring which in turn helps students to graduate high school on time. The UWSSMAD also provides bursaries for students in need who attend Sault College and supports John Howard Society’s Options Navigator program that connects people with training and employment opportunities.
Food security through Harvest Algoma
Food security is the third pillar of the UWSSMAD’s strategic plan. “There are a lot of really good organizations that are doing great work, but when we looked into it, we found that there were restrictions on the work that could be done because they didn’t have the capacity to receive and store large transports of food,” explains Gary. “We started up Harvest Algoma with the main intent of establishing an upstream warehouse so that we could store food that comes in bulk until the food banks and soup kitchens need it.”
Now UWSSMAD’s Harvest Algoma includes an urban farm with greenhouses, a food processing kitchen led by a Red Seal Certified Chef, and a food distribution warehouse which all provide over 50 partner agencies with healthy food for their clients.
Working together towards a common goal
All of this work cannot be accomplished alone. Together with a number of other community and governmental organizations along with the support of businesses and individual donations, the important work of poverty reduction can continue.
Derek Jackson, Sales and Marketing Manager for Wardlaw Heating and Cooling, says that supporting the UWSSMAD allows his team to contribute to their community in a meaningful way.
“We as a team and a family are so fortunate to live and work in Sault Ste. Marie and Algoma, a community that has always supported us,” says Derek. “We recognize that support comes in all forms, and The United Way’s three main pillars of essential services, workforce entry, and food security support many families and individuals. They contribute to a healthy, safe, and prosperous community that has an undeniable ripple effect. By supporting The United Way, we trust that those most in need in our community are being supported.”
For more information about the services that UWSSMAD offers or to find out more about how you can donate or volunteer, visit their offices at 301-258 Queen Street East their website, call (705) 256-7476.