Stories

MAUREEN HEUFF

I was a Loaned Representative from Bell (Stentor Resource Centre Incorporated) from August to December 1998, we were known as the Dream Team.  It was a great experience - I will always treasure the people you meet and especially the staff at United Way/Centraide, they were all dedicated individuals, so thank you.  I do a lot a charity work for Bell, but just getting to go to the charity workplaces that are being helped by United Way/Centraide, and even the speakers from the Speakers’ Bureau from the different agencies, is something that one will always remember.  I had the privilege to work in the high tech area, so I did have Nortel as one of my accounts.   Other representatives that I got to know were Zoye Coburn from the Ottawa Carleton Regional Police Services, Joanne McHugh from Scotiabank, Ann LeBlanc from HR Development Canada just to name a few.  

I still continue within Bell helping out with our Employee Giving Campaign which goes through the month of October.

I will always look back and say “thank you” to Bell for giving me this opportunity and for the people I met.


BRUCE WOLFGRAM

Like many people, I had been donating some money to United Way/Centraide annually at my workplace for years. I did it because it was just the "right thing to do", but I never really took the time to consider what United Way/Centraide did with the money. Then I took part in a "Seeing is Believing" tour where a bus takes you to 3-4 different local agencies that are funded, in whole or in part, by United Way/Centraide. I was blown away.  I never realized the spectrum of services that are offered to Ottawa's citizens. Even more surprising from my naive standpoint, I never appreciated that we had such a critical need for these services, and that in many cases the seats and beds in these agencies were still overflowing, even after United Way/Centraide’s support. From that point on, donating to United Way/Centraide was no longer just another annual task, but rather it has become a requirement for me and my family.


JENNIFER BRUNET COLVEY

 I grew up in a rural community, on the outskirts of Montreal. We lived in a new development but surrounded by farmland.

My mother was approached by the Red Feather ("Community Chest") to go door-to-door to meet with all of the Francophone farmers. My mother spoke French (there were not a lot of people who knew the language where we lived) and they really needed someone who could take this on. She agreed. I was about 5 years old.

We did not have a car so we had to walk from farm to farm. These farms were spread out so we had to walk long distances, often in terrible weather (like today, the campaign was held in the fall timeframe). I remember the rain, the cold. I also remember holding my mother's hand as we set off in the morning to do this "important work" and worrying that I would not be able to keep up (she was a fast walker). I remember wearing a plastic transparent (see-through) raincoat with metal buckles that would close to the side. I remember wearing little rain boots (can't remember the colour) and walking as fast as my little legs could take me.

I also remember most vividly how happy the farmers and their wives were when we arrived at their door. We would always be invited in, often for a cup of tea or coffee (hot milk for me) which, unfortunately, would sometimes make me sleepy. At one farm, I remember falling asleep in this little rocking chair by the fire, soothed by the sounds of my mother conversing with these folks. I also remember having to later go out into the cold to visit with yet another prospective donor. That was not so great.

What I remember the most are the stories these farmers and their wives shared with my mother -  as a small child, I could piece together some of the things they discussed: they knew first-hand how hard life could be and how no one is really immune to the dangers that could be lurking around the next corner. They knew that in a moment, they could loose everything. In some ways, they felt that the Red Feather ("Community Chest") was their insurance policy against a rainy day. They gave with pride. They gave with joy. But mostly, they were happy that someone had actually taken the time to meet with them. They were not alone and forgotten. They were provided with an opportunity to help the greater good and to help those most in need.


GILLES CHASLES

It all started during a dinner party at my good friend Barry Gauthier’s house in Manotick in March 1990. After a wonderful meal, Barry took out a stack of computer print-outs and proceeded to sell me on the wonderful world of United Way/Centraide. Barry was the High-Tech Division Chair for the 1990 campaign and was in full recruiting mode!

After an hour of discussion, I signed on as an AE (Account Executive) in the High-Tech Division. I attended the AE training and went on my merry way to meet about 30 of our community High-Tech leaders. This was the start of an 8-year career as a volunteer with United Way/Centraide.

The following year (1991), I was promoted to Section Chair for High-Tech.

The next year saw me climb the ladder to Division Chair for High-Tech, a position I held as well in 1993.

In 1994, I was asked to head a new AE training session, which I gladly accepted.

In 1995, I was assigned the task of heading the Small Business Division.

The 1996 Chair, Peter Cleveland, chose me to be his Deputy Campaign Chair for his campaign, which meant that the following year I would become General Campaign Chair.

It was quite an eventful campaign, with many challenges and changes at the top: Claude Leost retired after many years as President of United Way/Centraide, Colleen Ford left to pursue a career elsewhere and Johanne (Boland) Sevigny also left for greener pastures.

In November 1997, a general strike at Canada Post pretty well stopped the receipt of our direct mail program, followed by a teacher’s strike that affected the Education Division. Before these speed bumps, our campaign was in record-breaking mode, but we still managed to surpass the previous year with a final tally of $ 13.8 million.

As I look back on the evening of that now famous dinner with Barry Gauthier, I am so thankful that Barry thought of asking me to help in his campaign. United Way/Centraide has changed not only the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in Ottawa, but has changed my life forever, not as a recipient but as a more active and contributing member of our community.

Throughout my campaign, I kept referring in my speeches to the youth, the kids in our community who suffered, the kids who went to school with an empty tummy, the kids who were abused — my campaign was dedicated to kids and the homeless.

In 1996, I had spent a month in France looking for a very close friend who had gone missing (become homeless) due to mental illness. I did find this friend and I was able to have that person return home to continue her treatments. But many in our community are not so lucky. We see them every day and there are many more whom we don’t see because mental illness (which is by far the largest cause of homelessness) is often an invisible illness.

The needs of the homeless touched me very much. So much so that in 1998 I joined the Ottawa Branch of the Red Cross, eventually becoming the Chair of the campaign whose themes was “Campaign for Humanity.” Our mission was to make sure that homeless people would at least have some of the things we all take for granted — clean socks, clean underwear, shaving cream, soap, that kind of thing. These items were delivered by a group of volunteers which included myself. I will never forget the smiles and the thank you’s.

But what will remain in my mind forever was a speaker who accompanied me to an event at a large Kanata High-Tech firm for the launch of it’s United Way/Centraide campaign. That young man (who was 29 years old) had been sexually abused for most of his childhood and well into his teenage years by his father and uncles. As he said, “I had to tell someone.” He had to tell his story; he could no longer hold it in. His story brought me to tears (and everyone in the audience). You had to see the fear and pain in his eyes; he had such a powerful story to tell. Many thank you’s to United Way/Centraide, the agencies and their services. They saved his life, for without them he would have never made it to 29 years of age, as he often thought of suicide. Today, he is married and a proud father.

There are many, many other stories like this one, and they are happening right now in our community. These people need our help, our compassion and our time.

United Way/Centraide is by far the best place to invest our time, money and compassion for our community.

Thank you to all the volunteers who have made our United Way/Centraide what it is today.

Happy 75th United Way/Centraide.

Gilles Chasles

General Campaign Chair 1997
United Way Ottawa


PAIGE DILLABOUGH

My name is Paige Dillabough and I am 13 years old.  When I was eight years old, I was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour and spent two years undergoing radiation and chemotherapy treatments.  My tumour and my treatment left me with some physical and medical complications, which have affected my walking and my lifestyle.  I learned a lot when I was in the hospital for six months.  I saw how much the nurses, doctors, child care workers, therapists and hospital staff made a difference in the lives of the kids in the hospital.   The first thing I did when I went home for my first weekend pass was to have a fun fair at my house and I gave all of the proceeds to the nurses.  That started my fund-raising projects and in the past five years I have done bake sales, made window art, held various craft sales, and helped with golf tournaments and local events to raise money and awareness for CHEO, Candlelighters and childhood cancer. 

During my fund-raising projects, I became involved with an international charity called “Kids with a Cause.”  This organization is all about kids helping kids.  I really wanted to start my own “Kids with a Cause” project to help kids in my area. When I saw a TV program about kids who don’t have families or whose families have difficulties and that because of this many of these kids didn’t get excited about Christmas, I wanted to help them.  I wanted to bring the Christmas spirit to as many of those kids as I could, so I started my “Kids with a Cause CLAUSE” Christmas project.  I asked friends and students at my school to decorate a Christmas stocking and stuff it with toys and other stocking stuffer items.  Mr. Sal Iacono at Bell Canada contacted a United Way/Centraide representative and we made arrangements to have the stockings sent to boys and girls in the Ottawa area who needed a boost of Christmas spirit.  Over the past two years, my Christmas project has sent over 220 stockings to girls and boys in our area.  This project fills me with the Christmas spirit of giving and gets everyone into the spirit of the season.  It feels good to help others!  I would like to thank Mr. Sal Iacono from Bell Canada for supporting my “Kids with a Cause CLAUSE” project and for spreading the word about my Christmas project. I would also like to thank United Way/Centraide for looking after kids and their families and for making sure that my “Christmas surprises” get delivered.   I love doing this project!    It really does feel good to help others.

“Cherish your yesterdays, dream your tomorrows, but live your today’s!”


MERIEL BRADFORD

I had known about the importance of United Way/Centraide from the days when my dad was chair of the community Chest Foundation back in the 1950s.

I was delighted to be invited onto the Campaign Cabinet and to take responsibility for the Loaned Representative program for a number of years. In addition to meeting wonderful staff and volunteer leaders from the community, my involvement gave me a better insight into the changing needs of Ottawa and the positive role that United Way/Centraide can play.

 I also enjoyed nominating several community leaders and surprising them with their awards!


BONNIE MORRIS

I worked at United Way/Centraide from 1973 to 1988.

Initially I responded to an ad in the newspaper for an administrative position.  I wanted to work downtown and this seemed like a good opportunity.  Who knew?

It was a whole new world for me (working at United Way/Centraide) — impressive right from the beginning.  I got to work with leaders in the community from the very first day.  E.W.I. Keenleyside was the President of the Board of Directors and J.J. Harrington was the Executive Director.  Norman Smith, of Ottawa Journal fame, was on the Board, along with people like Colonel Lucien Lalonde who was instrumental in the building of the NAC.  It was a learning and growing experience, personally and professionally.  I made great connections with so many staff and community leaders, and many have remained friends through the years. Together we made a difference raising money and helping people.   

There are so many memories.  How does someone cover 15 years with special people?  In 1974 I was promoted to Assistant Campaign Director and worked with Campaign Director Rear Admiral R.W. (Bob) Murdoch and Bette Murray, Community Division Director. 

Then in 1976 I was named Campaign Director, an opportunity provided by Alistair Gamble, then Executive Director.  I was 28.  He allowed me to search out Best Practices from other United Appeals and apply them at home. My Campaign Chair that year was John Richard, then of Gowling and Henderson.

In 1979 we experienced our first on-site analysis of the campaign, led by Bob Myers, then President of United Way of Canada.  It was memorable because of the learning and successful due to the incredible impact on campaign results.  Under the leadership of Ross Cruikshank of Bell Canada as Campaign Chair, we moved ahead 19.7% that year.

The most memorable moment for me had to be in 1984.  Bill Zimmerman was the Executive Director and we met our goal on time and surprised our Campaign Chair, Louis Blais of Gulf Canada, by going one hundred thousand dollars over the goal by Touchdown. I still have the front page picture of the surprised look on Louis’ face when we unveiled the results. We had often made goal but not by the Campaign Touchdown event.

Other special volunteer leaders with whom I had the pleasure to work were Campaign Chairs Pierre Maurer, David Loeb, Claudette Nadeau, Frank Warnock, John Scott, Doug Cameron, John Farrell, Ian Warrack and Marc Jolicoeur — and each had his/her own Cabinet volunteers to make things happen.

I would love to list the staff I worked with but I know I would miss some very important ones.  United Way/Centraide grew great talent – in both the staff and volunteers, and I still have special relationships with many.  I cherish the memories of our times working, playing, laughing and achieving together. 

United Way/Centraide was where I grew up; it was what defined my entire career. It made me part of the whole community. I was afforded the opportunity to work with United Way of Canada – Centraide Canada, to lead on-site analyses in other Canadian cities, to design and deliver fundraising courses at a national level, and to help coordinate and make presentations at national conferences and campaign leader workshops. I went on to become Assistant Vice-Rector, Alumni and Development at the University of Ottawa for 15 years.  Now I am back with United Way as Vice-President, Resource Development at United Way of Canada – Centraide Canada.

United Way Ottawa, thank you!

Happy 75th!


MARC D’AOUST

When I was asked for a donation during my first United Way/Centraide staff campaign in 2000, I wasn’t sure how much I would give. Although I had donated to some smaller causes before, I had never donated to United Way/Centraide. I was contemplating giving $20 or being generous and giving $100. That’s where my mindset was. Then my boss asked a woman (who worked for United Way/Centraide at the time and who was part of the Speaker’s Bureau) to give our group a leadership presentation and explain why she was a leader. The woman explained that she had attended a leadership presentation and had heard someone else’s testimony about being a leader. She was so touched by that person’s story that she decided that she wanted to make a larger contribution and become a leader as well. However, she was a single mom and did not have much money. She felt she needed her kids’ permission because if she was to become a leader, she could not afford as many toys and treats for them. She explained that it was to help other children who did not have any toys and other people who did not have a home and others who were abused and so on. Her children told her it was okay for her to become a leader because they wanted to help those other people as well. She then became a leader.

After hearing her testimony, I started to think about my own life and how I spent my money. At that time, I smoked 1.5 packs of cigarettes a day, drank 14 coffees a day, went out to bars every few weekends, and spent a bundle on cover charges and drinks. I ordered lots of things from the television, that I never even used, I ate lunch at restaurants every day and ordered pizza for dinner every second day. OH HOW MUCH MONEY I WAS WASTING! Also, I had a fully furnished house, a car, a job, a dog, a wife, a loving family, many friends and good health. Many people in my community did not benefit from these treasures.

To be a leader, it takes an investment of $2.74 a day. That was the cost of two coffees less a day, half a pack of cigarettes less a day (in 2000), skipping one weekend out at the bar or simply drinking less, making my own lunch instead of eating out, or preparing a meal instead of eating pizza all the time. Any ONE of these things could permit me to donate $2.74 a day and help out someone who is not as fortunate as I am. I decided to become a leader and have been ever since.

Not everyone can afford to be a leader, but if you think about how you spend your money every year, you might find that you spend some money needlessly at times. That money could make a world of difference in someone else’s life. Give generously. Help others in need.


LOUIS DE MELO

I arrived at United Way Ottawa by accident in 1995. Working in the federal service at the time, I read a memorandum that went around asking if anyone would be interested in participating in the Loaned Representative program. I wrote back saying that I would like to find out more about the program.  The next thing I knew, I was the Loaned Representative for the department. So, despite my ADM’s surprise (who was away on holidays at the time of the mysterious approval) and my own, we agreed that I would enquire further before the final decision was made. I met with Colleen Ford, who was director of the Campaign at the time, and she explained this Loaned Representative program and the mission of United Way/Centraide. I was convinced immediately and went on to love every minute of the experience. I would like to remind everyone in the audience that the Education Division, to which I was assigned, achieved its goal for the first time before the end of the campaign!

The 1995 campaign was a terrific experience – I never ate so many hotdogs and hamburgers in a 45-day period. My waistline has never recovered.

Once the campaign was over, I went back to my workplace but something had changed, something was missing.  I saw people differently, I looked at events differently because I now knew that as individuals, we have more impact on people’s lives than we think … if only we try to make a difference.

In 2006, I got another call from United Way/Centraide — I guess I got noticed for (did I say it already?) achieving goal before touchdown (that’s what we used to call it before we got all fancy). The request was simple: stop everything you’re doing and come join us for six months because we have someone going on maternity leave.  At that point, I was still on a high from the campaign and I was considering leaving the federal service to go into the high tech sector, so I decided, why not? It is only for six months — no big deal.

Well, six months turned into six wonderful years with amazing people. To this day, I meet regularly with former employees, colleagues and volunteers.  I am, of course, very proud to have led the United Way/Centraide campaign from 1998 to 2001 and having helped launch the Government of Canada Workplace Charitable Campaign with all its intricacies and challenges. I still remember the seemingly small but very important challenge of what to write on our fax cover: Should it be United Way? United Way and Centraide Outaouais?   United Way and Healthpartners? Can I just send the darn fax out please? And don’t get me started on the flags story.

What do I remember most?  Wonderful people!  Oh yeah, and of course we broke the $20 million mark in 2001, and achieved double-digit growth during each of the years of my leadership of the campaign — but your directives for this note prevent me from bragging, so I’ll stop there.

My worst memories?  There are only two: Leadership Team meetings (or should I say marathons?) and the budget process.  The Leadership Team meetings, though very long and difficult at times, prepared me very well for my first challenge at Ashbury College: the simultaneous removal of all four of my wisdom teeth. As for the budget process, why can’t everyone use the “Three Horizons” approach?  It’s comprehensive, it’s logical —and it works for me. In all seriousness, these two meeting forums allowed for fellowship among a wonderful group of leaders who were, in turn, led by the passionate, disputatious and pugnacious Michael Allen.  I have indeed learned much from this group and from Michael especially.  The lessons I learned have proven to be among the most useful in my career and at times I catch myself reminiscing about the good old days at United Way/Centraide.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide my thoughts on this organization and its people who are very special to me.  Happy 75th, United Way/Centraide.


LISETTE BOURDEAU

I look back very fondly on my time volunteering with United Way/Centraide. After retiring from my profession, I began working my way up the volunteer ladder and so was able to help in a number of different areas over several years. I worked collecting money from door to door in my current area (Manor Park) and in Ottawa East and Ottawa South, and eventually as a campaign chair recruiting other people to collect with me.

It was always a very enjoyable experience and it opened my eyes and mind to a great many things. It really showed me all of the work being done by United Way/Centraide, which you sometimes don’t realize until you get out in the community and talk to people. I think this was probably the most memorable and important part for me. You sometimes give money and wonder where it’s going and if it’s getting to the people who need it. When you’re volunteering, you see that there are so many — hundreds really — of other volunteers, and so you know the money raised isn’t just going to paying salaries and administration. All the money really funnels back into our own community.

Since this experience, I have always tried to give as much as I can to United Way/Centraide because I am confident in the work it does and where the money goes. It was very interesting work, and I loved it and really felt such a sense of accomplishment for being involved in the ways I was (collecting money and eventually as a campaign chair).


LOIS ALLEN

I joined the United Way/Centraide campaign staff team in 1983 and our goal was approximately $6.3 million. We had no computers; we added up the workplace and direct mail campaign totals manually. All of our donor information was on index cards that we would send out to a data entry company so that we could get dot matrix spreadsheets listing our workplace donors. A couple of years later we purchased one stand-alone computer, which we shared, and our first campaign management system was born. How times have changed! My children grew up at United Way/Centraide, helping to set up kick-off breakfasts in the wee hours of the morning at the Civic Centre with Dave Smith serving up eggs and bacon; stuffing envelopes and sorting by postal code for our direct mail; coming out to the weekly report meetings at the Y; starring in campaign posters; and, of course, celebrating our touchdowns! United Way/Centraide gave me the wonderful opportunity to grow professionally and personally over the 17 years I was with them. From Campaign, to Finance, to Operations, to a couple of years at the national office and now finally as an Executive Director of a member agency. Everyone who is affiliated with United Way/Centraide benefits. United Way/Centraide has grown tremendously over the years in terms of its infrastructure, business technology, fundraising techniques and community-building initiatives. Its values remain the same though: one community working together to help keep our community strong. United Way/Centraide relies on volunteers, donors, loaned representatives, corporations and organizations to help raise the funds needed to support critical human and social services. And the community relying on United Way/Community for 75 years is a tremendous milestone. I'm pleased to have been a part of its history and look forward to being part of its future.


LOUIS BLAIS

The 1984 campaign had great emotional highs and lows. A number of months after his   appointment, our chairman died very suddenly, affecting a major blow to the partially appointed cabinet. As a result I became chairman by succession. We managed to get “all of our ducks in a row” and “kick-off” took place at a Rough Rider game where I, as the United Way/Centraide chairman, ceremoniously kicked off the game ball only to slip and fall flat on my back! As it turned out, I was the only member of cabinet to fall down on the job, as witnessed by the fact that at “touchdown” we not only made and exceeded the goal but as well as on time, which was an achievement that had not been seen for many years. This was our great high for the campaign and a credit to a great team of volunteers, cabinet and members of the United Way/Centraide staff.


BILL McCLOSKEY

My involvement with United Way/Centraide came about, curiously enough, as a result of poor relations between United Way/Centraide and the agencies it supported. In the late 1970s, relations between United Way/Centraide and the agencies that depended upon it for support had deteriorated for a number of reasons. At the time, I was President of the Board of Directors of Catholic Family Services, a family counselling agency supported by United Way/Centraide. Because of the concerns that a number of agencies had with United Way/Centraide, an ad hoc group of agencies calling itself the Association of United Way Agencies came together to strengthen the voice of agencies within United Way/Centraide. I eventually became the chair of this group and, in a bid to improve relations, United Way/Centraide asked me to sit on its board of directors. When I moved on from chairing the association, I was asked to remain on the board and eventually served as the chair in 1984-85.

The most memorable event that occurred during my term as chair was an application for funding received from Planned Parenthood of Ottawa. To put this in context, the funding of Planned Parenthood had split the United Ways of Toronto, Edmonton and several other cities in Canada and the United States. Here in Ottawa, charities with connections to the Catholic Church pulled out of United Way/Centraide to set up a separate, rival organization in protest over the funding of what they regarded as “abortion counselling.” Our Board recognized that unless the issue was handled with great care, United Way/Centraide could be seriously and negatively impacted. We were determined to proceed with considering the request objectively and on its own merits, while at the same time attempting to keep the current United Way/Centraide family of agencies intact.

Working closely with the national organization, United Way of Canada, we entered into discussions with United Ways in several cities that had received applications from Planned Parenthood to determine what they would do differently if they had to start over again. The advice we got was extremely useful in helping us chart a course ahead. At the same time, we began discussions with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Ottawa, including meetings with the bishop, to ensure that all parties with an interest in the issue were aware of what was happening and of the criteria that United Way/Centraide was applying so that, at the end of the day, there would be no “surprises” for anyone. This helped our consideration of the application move forward in an impartial and non-confrontational manner. Moreover, we were fortunate that all parties recognized the important role played by United Way/Centraide in the community and, ideally, wished the matter to be resolved calmly and in favour of the greater good of Ottawa. After lengthy discussions, United Way/Centraide made the decision to provide funding for Planned Parenthood education programs (as opposed to their counselling programs) an outcome the Catholic Archdiocese was able to accept. The board took considerable pride (and relief) in the fact that, through careful management, we had succeeded in working through an issue that had seriously harmed other United Ways in North America.

On a personal level, one of the most rewarding privileges of serving on the Board of United Way/Centraide was the opportunity I had to work with such an incredibly diverse and talented group of people drawn from across the whole community. It is an experience I still treasure 25 years later.


SOLLY PATRONTASCH

I first got involved with United Way Ottawa during the 1995 campaign. 

At the time, I was an account executive who originally didn't get too close to the campaign cabinet table.  But occasionally when my division leader couldn't make it to a cabinet meeting, he would ask me to go in his place, so that's how I first got to the inner chamber of United Way/Centraide. What I saw and felt there was an intelligent, caring and embracing group, led by the organization’s professional staff, but integrated with volunteers in such a refreshingly effective and positive way that I hadn’t imagined was possible. The positive ambiance exuded by this format and group was something I was drawn to, something I felt that I very much wanted to be a part of.

About two or three years after that, there was a significant change in the management team of United Way/Centraide. I was concerned with the departures, wondering how the magic of this organization would survive and how those in need in our community would continue to be serviced with such a large organizational change taking place.  But it soon became evident that United Way/Centraide wasn’t in jeopardy with this change. In fact, it grew and thrived with the new team and reached new plateaus of achievement that could only have been dreamed of.  Significant organizational changes have continued to take place over the years, each of them making me wonder if the change will result in a step backward for United Way/Centraide.  But that has never happened.  The ambiance and philosophy of community care at United Way/Centraide has always continued at the highest level of excellence.

So I can only conclude that there is some sort of 'invisible hand' at work here.  Over the 13 year period I've observed, people come and people go at United Way/Centraide (both professional staff and volunteers).  United Way/Centraide is also housed in its third office space during this time. Yet there is a principle of stewardship, of leadership, of commitment that never gets lost no matter what the transition.  It's as if the office space of United Way/Centraide provides the context and framework for all those who work within its walls to go out into the community and, first and foremost, help those in need.  The right people at United Way/Centraide always seem to be there always doing the right thing, whether it was a $10 million campaign in 1995 or a $29.8 million campaign in 2007.

United Way/Centraide truly is a magical place.  Long live the magic.


MARGARET (MAGGIE) FIETZ 

When I returned to Ottawa in 1968 as a young social worker with a husband and a one-year-old daughter, I started working at the Family Service Centre of Ottawa.  That was the beginning of my long association with United Way Ottawa. Over a span of 30 years, I worked for three United Way/Centraide agencies (Family Service Centre, Social Planning Council as an MSW Student and Visiting Homemakers Association of Ottawa) and participated in many committees, meetings and campaign activities.

Throughout this long association, I was always impressed with the ability of United Way/Centraide staff to attract and maintain the vast numbers of volunteers needed to make it a success. Sometimes campaigns did not meet their goals and this created hardships for the agencies that were already unable to provide services to all who needed them.  As a frontline social worker, a supervisor and then an executive director, I knew first-hand about the positive impact that agencies’ services had for people in Ottawa.

During weekly campaign volunteer meetings, women from the Family Service Centre’s Incest Survivors Group Program bravely “told their stories.” Their moving accounts of the help they received as adults with families of their own really inspired all involved to continue raising funds. Many of these women would not have been able to be a part of this effective program without funding from United Way/Centraide.

In those early years, members of United Way/Centraide agencies also had fun during campaign events. One September, on a Sunday morning Western Parkway bicycle day, United Way/Centraide agencies had displays and fun activities for children to promote the United Way/Centraide campaign. Brightly coloured tables, balloons, flags and other displays, and staff and volunteers in their United Way t-shirts lined the roadside on this beautiful sunny day!

Most of all, I have very fond memories of people I worked with – volunteers on committees, frontline staff, executive directors, administrative staff, campaign directors, and board and other volunteers. United Way/Centraide was, is and must be about people: people helping people!


THE CASTLEDINE FAMILY

ALLAN CASTLEDINE

Well, the first time I participated with United Way/Centraide Ottawa I guess was in about 1948. I canvassed for the Community Chest on Bank Street. And since then although I haven’t been canvassing, I have been contributing. As for the reasons why I choose to support United Way/Centraide, it just covers so many areas — one donation covers a wide scope — rather than focusing on one and neglecting all the others.

MICHAEL CASTLEDINE

My work with United Way/Centraide would probably go back to 1972. It’s always been part of the culture of the firm where I work. I’ve been a contributor all the way through rather than a canvasser, but we do make it fairly important within the branch to let everybody know that this is a campaign that we feel they should support. Also, I remember that my father contributed to the Red Feather campaign when I was a young kid because I have a little metal red feather that I got from him then.

We’ve been very lucky in Ottawa … growing up in Ottawa, pretty much. And it’s a great way to give back to the community. It’s very centric to our community. We live here, we raise our families here, it seems important that we get involved in the community. And United Way/Centraide does the job. For example, I know United Way/Centraide supports the YMCA. I was briefly involved with them, and you can very visibly see the good work that goes on. After being with them, I upped my United Way/Centraide gift.

For me, a big part of my support for most of my years has always been about the children. Now I’m becoming more aware of the problems of folks getting older and it’s equally terrifying. So now my thoughts and target are changing somewhat, maybe because I’m getting closer to one end of the spectrum. It’s great that United Way/Centraide can cover both of these groups and many others too.

ERIC CASTLEDINE

Since I started working in 1985, we’ve always had a campaign in the office and I contributed every year. I think that’s valuable. I find with many charities it’s “ask ask ask,” but you have no idea what they do. Whereas at least with United Way/Centraide, I have seen what they do: there is evidence in print that I’ve read as to where the money goes and what it does and the tangible impacts. When it comes to remembering United Way/Centraide over the years, I go all the way back to the red feathers. I remember in public school there was always a United Way/Centraide campaign, and the attraction there was that you would get a sticker with the logo. I don’t remember what you had to give, but that was the incentive, basically. I think that was in grade 2 or something like that. So my involvement and memories go way back and start at an early age.


GARY ARMSTRONG

I started my involvement with United Way/Centraide in 1983 while working with the Region of Ottawa-Carleton. I was responsible for the campaign in one regional department. I replaced the chair of the Government and Institutions Division, Doug Cameron. I was on cabinet for a few years before becoming campaign chair and later board president. I think, for me, the real advantage of the G&I division was the close relationship developed with the various agencies since they were part of the division.

Some other points of note during my board/campaign years include:

  • reclaiming the planning function from the Social Planning Council;
  • awarding the President Award to Bill Zimmerman;
  • involvement in the hiring of Claude Leost as executive director;
  • finalizing the agreement with, and chairing the first campaign with, Healthpartners; 
  • having to follow Dave Smith to all of the speaking sessions within the public service.
  • developing the Legacy Fund; and
  • meeting and working with a tremendous group of people: staff, volunteers, donors, agencystaff and clients.

One other memorable event relates to Thursdays during the campaign. The cabinet would meet every Thursday at noon and report, and then hold a public meeting (which was at the YMCA) at 5 p.m. to announce achievement to date. It was quite competitive amongst the cabinet team to see who had made the most progress. Awards were given to individuals and to high performers who were recognized by each division chair as he/she announced their progress over the previous week. Finally, a tally was given at the end of each session: really a lot of fun and quite an incentive to push harder. We had less competition in the 1980s and 1990s for airtime so each Thursday evening after the reporting session, it was often a race off to CJOH for a stint with Max Keeping and then quickly over to CBC to get on its evening show as well.


JEAN-PIERRE SOUBLIERE

United Way/Centraide has been part of my life since approximately 1975, when as a public servant, I was recruited to be an account representative. I barely remember the excitement, but what stands out for me, even then, was the passion that I witnessed among those who were obviously veterans for the cause. In effect, even if I did not really “get” it at the time, I was hooked.

Over the years, I have been involved in some official capacity for each campaign, up until my time ran out at the national board level, two to three years ago. This was a string that lasted approximately 35 years.

I have been a group leader within a company, an employee campaign coordinator, a division leader, a campaign chair, a local cabinet and then a board member, and finally, a national board member, at which time I was also honoured to be national chair.

From an outsider’s perspective, one might feel that I really contributed. But those who are involved know that I benefited. The emotional highs obtained through meeting certain objectives that are so closely tied to helping human beings are hard to describe, but United Way/Centraide delivers them on a continual basis.

My most memorable experience occurred in 1981. I was the Employee Campaign Leader for Systemhouse. This was a time of heavy inflation, when our industry was in very bad shape and our company itself was encountering major difficulties. In fact, we had had to face some layoffs. Yet, we set an aggressive goal and we met it. I remember hearing the good news while on assignment in Montreal. Elated and proud: that is how I felt.

And to this day, I keep reminding anyone with whom I discuss this charity to think of how our community could exist without a United Way/Centraide.


JOE BONES

I was born in 1936 and have lived in Ottawa since 1939.

As a child, I recall attending the Ottawa Boy’s Club on Laurier and Elgin Streets when the founder, Fred McCann, was still active.I attended the summer camp at Mink Lake and I believe the fee was one dollar per day.

I have been a contributor to United Way/Centraide for approximately 53 consecutive years, beginning when it was known as Community Chest.

I joined the budget committee in the early 1960s and served until 1974 including as vice-chairman 1969 to 1971 and Chairman 1972 to 1974. I was on the board of directors and executive committee, I think from 1972 to 1974. When I joined, the offices were on Blackburn or Laurier East before moving to Plymouth Street.I served on the Leaders of the Way, though I was never involved with the campaigns.

My early memory is that, apart from the campaign, there were so few staff, namely, an executive director, agency relations (was part-time as Joe Poirier was also playing with the Ottawa Rough Riders), a community relations director, a controller, a secretary-bookkeeper, four clerical staff, a machine operator and a secretary to agency relations, for a total of 11

In those days the wise old men on the board were Col. Lucien Lalonde, Rod Rooney, Lloyd Vineberg and Irv Keenleyside.

In 1971 and 1972 I was a member of the Social Planning Committee and asked “to do a review and evaluations of services provided by the United Appeal agencies and to recommend priorities to assist the budget committee in allocation.”  I believe this was the first such study in the 38 year history of United Appeal.

Highlights of the Report

1. The committee debated the two views of United Appeal namely as “community insurance” and/or “as services for the disadvantaged.” The committee recommended that given its limited resources, the United Appeal could not function, realistically, as a form of community insurance and that it should concentrate its efforts on funding services to disadvantaged persons and groups.

2. The committee determined four main criteria:

(i) rate of government

(ii) service to the disadvantaged

(iii) prevention

(iv) others which included:

?serving mainly local citizens

?having the appropriate means for evaluating its services

? having adequately trained or skilled personnel

? making use of suitable budgeting techniques

?providing consultation and/or planning services

?encouraging citizen participation

? being of a short-term, demonstrative and/or innovative nature

3. The committee allocated a specific priority to each of the 41 service categories and the 122 agency programs within the categories. The ratings were as follows:

?major increase

?normal increase

? no change

? decrease

?cease United Appeal funding

?no United Appeal funding

4. Some special recommendations included:

(i) Investigating the possibility of all rehabilitation services amalgamating at the administrative level

(ii) City of Ottawa providing the operating costs for the pool facilities of the Boy’s Club, Patro and YMCA/YWCA

(iii) Commissioning a study on the most efficient method of meeting the transportation needs of the handicapped

(iv) Commissioning a study on the mental health situation in Ottawa-Carleton

(v) United Appeal laying aside an annual sum of $50,000 (approximately 2% of campaign) for pilot projects and exploring ways and means of developing new methods of providing services in the community

In 1972 and 1973 I was a member of an ad hoc committee of United Appeal to study the above services and priorities committee report of the Social Planning Council, including soliciting comments from the agencies and making recommendations to the board of directors.

The highlights of our report were as follows:

1. Many agencies had many concerns about the report.

2. Recommend accepting the view in item one (above) but the committee thought that “disadvantaged” should not mean primarily economically disadvantaged.

3. Recommend that the criteria in item two (above) be replaced by the following:

(i) degree of probable government funding shouldbe taken into consideration

(ii) disadvantaged to include socially, physically, emotionally, mentally or financially

(iii) prevention but a lower rating if it isprimarily a treatment service

(iv) other:

  • the extent to which local consumers are served
  • appropriate means for evaluating
  • adequately trained or skilled personnel
  • the extent to which the program can be readily defined

4. In addition to the special recommendations in the previous Report, this committee added the following:

  • that the Budget Committee continue in its present role
  • that there be no immediate cessation of any funding and adjustment was to be done gradually
  • that new priorities be established as soon as possible
  • that efforts be continued to increase government funding
  • that United Appeal continue to pursue its efforts to identify additional sources of funding other than those obtained through the annual campaign

My involvement in recent years has been with the Good Companions, where I feel United Way/Centraide is receiving excellent value for its money and benefiting many seniors in a variety of programs.


IAN HENDERSON

I have been involved with United Way/Centraide for more than 20 years as a volunteer. I worked the last 17 years with the Loaned Representative Program and have facilitated a number of focus groups over the years on various topics. Perhaps the most touching moment I had with United Way/Centraide occurred after the death of my wife, Suzanne. I had been looking for a special way to honour Suzanne's memory. She was an active donor to United Way/Centraide all of her working life. The staff of United Way/Centraide were so supportive and I will never forget their caring and support. A short time later, following a discussion I had with Jennifer Brunet-Colvey, United Way/Centraide approached me with the idea of establishing a memorial fund in her memory and within weeks had established the Suzanne Marineau Memorial Fund. As of June 2008, the fund has collected more than $40,000 and will continue to grow as the years go on. My ongoing involvement in co-managing this project keeps Suzanne in my memory.


MARLENE LEONARD

I started in 1991 as a member of a review panel for the Allocations Committee.  I remember being interviewed by Janet Whillans and another volunteer leader, whose name slips my mind. I do remember that she was knitting during the interview though.  About a year later, Janet asked me to chair the panel when a vacancy occurred. From 1998 to 1999, I was chair of the Allocations Committee but had to resign when the demands of my work made it impossible to continue.

The 1990s was a time of major change in the allocations process and in United Way/Centraide’s long-standing relationships with many member agencies.  As allocations volunteers, we were involved in implementing new levels of accountability in the program review process. It was a challenging time for volunteers as well as the agencies, as we struggled with introducing donor designations, strategic priorities and new initiatives.  During the same period, agencies were also being affected by funding cutbacks imposed by the Ontario government and it’s “Common Sense Revolution.” On the campaign side, the federal government was leading a downsizing trend that was challenging workplace campaigns all over the National Capital Region. The gap between funds available for distribution from annual campaigns and community need grew.

These were difficult times and they weren’t always a lot of fun. I found myself struggling with the same issues of resource deficits and management change at United Way/Centraide meetings that I encountered in my day job. However, I always found inspiration to continue, thanks to the talented and dedicated volunteers and staff involved with United Way/Centraide. Over the years, although memories of specific events have faded, I have always been grateful for the opportunity I was given to play a small role at a key point in the history of United Way/Centraide Ottawa.


HARDIE RATH WILSON

In terms of how I got involved with United Way/Centraide, a friend of my sister who was actually on the Youth Action Panel (YAP) told me it was a really good opportunity. At the time I didn’t think too much about it, but as the deadline for applying approached, she kept asking me, “Are you going to apply, are you going to apply?” She wanted me to join so much that she actually drove me to the interviews. 

I’ve had lots of different roles since my start with United Way/Centraide’s Youth Action Panel. My first year was one of learning and watching from the sidelines. Every once in a while, I would contribute to the intense debates going on in the United Way/Centraide boardroom. When I became co-chair, however, my role changed a lot. I tried to do my best to get things moving during meetings and tried to keep everyone focused on the task ahead. Being on the panel has opened my eyes to the needs of our city; getting to see what people from different parts of our ever-growing city really need. I think that although giving is a huge part of Youth Action’s role, simply listening to what youth have to say about our city is the key to not only Youth Action’s role in the community, but also our own.

Starlight was probably one of the greatest memories of my time with YAP. All of my friends were there and to see that kind of youth turnout is really great. It was fun and also informative. I also think that almost all of our meetings are great experiences. They’re always different and interesting, and every time I go, I learn something that I never knew before. It’s a gathering of intelligent, aware and above all, active youth, who are all friends and all trying to improve the community. And there's always plenty of food. What could be better?


NADIA PARVEZ

I got involved in the Youth Action Panel (YAP) at United Way/Centraide when I first heard about Youth Action Day. I was volunteering at a homework club (a project funded by United Way/Centraide’s YAP) and the coordinator suggested participating in Youth Action Day and also trying to become a part of YAP... so here I am!

During my time with YAP, I’ve gained leadership skills and improved my communication skills by facilitating and participating in various workshops and events. My main role as a Youth Action Panel member is to be active in the community and to look out for individuals who strive to make a difference. We, as a panel, discuss and decide which of several youth project applications we receive each year deserve funding based on how much positive impact they will have on the community.

I've enjoyed every little bit of my time on the Youth Action Panel! Whether it’s sitting through panel meetings and laughing for no particular reason, or leading activities at workshops and youth conferences in the community, or sitting through youth-based award ceremonies, or even just going out for dinner with other panel members, we’ve all come together as a group – and that has made my experience with United Way/Centraide so enriching and just plain fantastic!


JACQUELIN HOLZMAN

My United Way/Centraide story goes back almost to the beginning. I was born in Ottawa not long after the launch of this fund-gathering organization.  Just as my name has changed, so has United Way/Centraide’s. 

Over the years, it has been the Red Feather (I even had a real red feather as well as a little metal red feather pin), Community Chest, United Appeal and maybe many others that I have forgotten.

I was a board member at the Rehabilitation Institute of Ottawa and worked at the Social Planning Council, both of which were United Way/Centraide funded agencies.

As a member of the Leadership Committee, I have spoken at employee campaign sessions of agencies, hospitals, government departments and the private sector.  And I have done my share of canvassing.

But my most challenging experience was during the 1970 campaign, chaired by the late Jim B. Brown.  It was the first time that the goal was set at $2 million. More than 8,000 volunteers accepted the challenge, which resulted in more than 100,000 people receiving assistance from the 36 member agencies.

It was during the 1970 campaign that, as chair of the community campaign, my goal was to recruit canvassers to knock on the doors of every residence and small business in Ottawa!  And it was the last year of a door-to-door campaign. One group of canvassers from a local business generated so little money from their first day’s efforts that they wrote a cheque instead of going out a second day.  Ultimately, more money was generated from donations that were mailed in, unsolicited, than was collected at the doors.

Although more than $2 million was raised — the largest amount ever — it was still insufficient to meet everyone’s needs. The 1970 campaign report contains the following conclusion:

“The name of the game must now be priorities.”

Sound familiar? The more things change, the more they remain the same!!

Happy 75th Birthday United Way/Centraide…there will always be a need for you!


NITYANAND VARMA

I have been involved with United Way/Centraide for about 10 years. While on the board, I brought the "Foreign Trained Workers" project to board members’ attention. I am very happy that the board supported this project and that today all levels of government are more actively supporting it. Just think how many people have benefitted! I must congratulate United Way/Centraide for all its successes.


JANIE RANDOLPH

In 1993 I was asked to join the Campaign Cabinet — and that was the beginning of a wonderful relationship with United Way Ottawa.

What an organization! What an opportunity to serve the community! What a way to develop skills that last for life!

I believe that the heart of United Way/Centraide is its staff.  Their commitment to the work they do is remarkable.

I have always felt so valued as a volunteer and so supported in any activities in which I’ve been involved. I feel honoured to have been associated with an organization that has such an impact in this community.

Happy 75th birthday, United Way/Centraide!