December 6, 2005
Source: University of Toronto:
United Way makes final push
by Michah Rynor (about) (email)
Politicians have to work hard to get the vote out on election night and United Way workers are doing their best to get the pledges out in much the same way, says Molly Yeomans, United Way co-chair for U of T.
"Officially the drive ends Dec. 9 but we will be collecting pledge forms right up until Dec. 22," she says. "And itís really important for people to understand that the moment is now to return them."
Yeomans is hopeful that U of T will surpass last yearís final donation tally of $817,000.
"In the last few years, U of T has had a 17 per cent participation rate compared with the overall 12 per cent participation rate at universities and colleges," she says. "We want the University of Toronto community to be aware of what the United Way does for the city and how it makes all of our lives better. A relatively small amount of money from those who can afford it can make a huge difference."
Yeomans, a first-timer as U of T co-chair, says she has loved being here.
"I was on Bay Street last year working on a campaign that raised $36 million through mutual fund companies and Iíve found the canvassers at this university, as well as the professors, the leadership chair Michael Marrus and my co-chair Susan Elliott, to be tremendously supportive and really dedicated to making this campaign work."
However, Yeomans notes there is still, in some peopleís minds, the misconception that their contributions arenít needed since United Way raises so much money.
"Thatís what I consider to be a certain illiteracy about the United Way," she says with conviction. "The truth is that there are 200 agencies supported by United Way and these are agencies that get core funding from this campaign."
Core funding, Yeomans explains, means that agencies helping the disadvantaged can pay the electrical bills, hire the staff and keep the doors open.
"What is so important is that the United Way gives stabilized funding to worthy agencies in this city and letís face it -- do we actually see that there is less of a need in our community? I donít think so."
Governments, she adds, can come and go and they can decide to put money into supporting community and social services -- or not -- "but the United Way is always here."
What is also special about the United Way is the amount of research they do, she says.
"How many charitable foundations that you know do so much extensive research into community needs?" Yeomans asks. "Two years ago the United Way came out with a paper called Poverty by Postal Code which identifies pockets of poverty in areas such as Scarborough, Rexdale and North Etobicoke where people are living in concentrated areas of need without the services that exist in other parts of the city. So what the United Way does is not only raise funds but designates where these dollars go, identifying new areas of need and responding."
Simply put, she says, "The United Way is about diminishing the gap between those people who are doing OK and those who are not. The quality of all of our lives will suffer without these funds and this city will not be as nice a place to live in."