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United Way funding shortfall impacts local programs

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Journal staff

The United Way of Sarnia-Lambton’s board of directors had to make some tough decisions this week after falling short of their 2022 campaign target, the group said.

While 28 local programs will receive 2023-2024 ‘Community Investments’ funding, two programs were eliminated from the funding portfolio, including the Transitions Facilitator for Community Living Sarnia-Lambton.

“Although this program does amazing work, our available funds and funding priority targets just does not allow us to continue to fund this program,” community investment committee chair Gerry Whitcombe said in a news release. “The United Way is committed to working with this agency to assist them in finding other funding for this program.”

The John Howard Society’s Youth Life Skills program was also cut from the funding portfolio.

“The Youth Life Skills program withdrew their application as their services were being duplicated through the opening of the youth wellness hub and other drop-in type centres which are now available in our community,” a United Way news release noted, adding the agency will still support youth through partnerships with the other service providers.

The YMCA Autism Summer Camp will also see a decrease of $13,000.

The 2022 campaign reached $1,426,000, falling short of the 1,650,000 goal.
The board, along with members of the community investment committee, changed its local ‘Community Impact’ agenda in light of COVID-19, the group noted.

“Poverty and housing issues have been on the rise over the years and COVID-19 made those issues even worse,” Whitcombe, said, pointing to the board’s three priority areas to follow during review of funding requests: Poverty to Possibility, 44% of available funding; Healthy People, Strong Communities, 31%; All that Kids Can Be, 25%.

A funding increase of $8,600 was awarded to the YMCA Resource Houses Program, which services children in geared to income housing neighbourhoods with before and after school snacks and in some instances, lunches to take to school.

The board also approved a one-year critical services grant of $15,000 to River City Vineyard to purchase 50 hospital-grade mattresses for their shelter expansion.

“This expansion will be for the “hard to house” homeless population that generally live on the streets and have no other options of where to sleep,” said Whitcombe. They generally suffer from addiction, mental illness, or both and have a hard time securing and staying in long term housing.

“We want to keep them safe and off the streets not only for their own good but the communities as well.”

The United Way of Sarnia-Lambton is also taking part in the federal government’s Community Services Recovery Fund, a collaboration between United Way Centraide Canada, the Canadian Red Cross, and Community Foundations of Canada.

The fund will support a number of community service organizations as they recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Community service organizations can apply from January 6, 2023 until February 21, 2023. Locally, $332,814 will be available.

For more information or to apply, visit www.theunitedway.on.ca or contact Pamela Bodkin at [email protected]

A full breakdown of the 2023-2024 Local Community Investments can be found at https://theunitedway.on.ca/.

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