United Way Central Alberta gathered at the Youth and Volunteer Centre on May 9th to celebrate the community influence they have fashioned in Red Deer through their partner organizations. The programs supported by the United Way must serve local needs in at least one of these three areas – education, income, or wellness.
In Red Deer alone the United Way ended up investing in four education-based programs including the Youth and Volunteer Centre which just completed a round of three year funding for its Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys and Girls Club programs and Camp Alexo. Another program receiving funding is the anti-smoking program Butt Ugly. Last year more then 2,500 middle school kids received information that helped increase their capacity to make healthy tobacco-free choices.
Brenda Farwell, chairperson of the Community Impact Council for United Way Central Alberta spoke about the importance of having partners in the community willing to take a stand and make a difference. Farwell added in particular the education portion of the programs supported is about improving the lives of people in the community.
“In the education pillar we seek to invest in programs that get to the root causes of social issues, so that our children’s lives are changed for the better. We consider our agency’s partners, partners in creating a long lasting impact that is improving the lives of our children, youth, family, our disadvantaged, and of course as a whole our great community,” said Farwell.
One example of someone that has been personally influenced by the programs the United Way is funding is William Heaman. Heaman has been involved with the Boys and Girls Club for most of his adolescent years. He explained how growing up with programs such as this helped him come out of his shell and become the person he is today.
“I’ve been involved since I was six and since then they have always encouraged me to do my best. They have helped with my personal skills and social anxiety like shyness. I used to be a person that wouldn’t talk to anybody and I used to be a shut out. I’ve gained a lot of friends that I probably wouldn’t have without these programs,” said Heaman.
Heaman is a business administration student at Red Deer College and is still involved with the Boys and Girls Club through his volunteer work. One of the major ways that Heaman stays involved is through the haunted house the program puts on every Halloween. He added one of the major reasons why he does what he does is to ensure that his impact is left on the organization and that he will be a positive influence on kids going through the program like the volunteers were when he was growing up.
“The reason why I’m still involved and why I still volunteer is because I want to have the effect on kids and youth that I had through the program myself.”
For more information on the Ccmmunity impact programs United Way supports, check out www.caunitedway.ca.