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Letter: ‘Local Love’ in action

Children at the Boys and Girls Club of Kingston and Area reveal the total amount raised through the United Way of Kingston, Frontenac Lennox and Addington’s 2020 campaign. Photo submitted by the United Way.

The following is a submitted letter to the editor. The views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of The Kingstonist.

As the 2020 United Way KFL&A Campaign draws to a close, I want to thank the Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington community and all the amazing people who worked so hard to make this year’s campaign an overwhelming success.

United Way never sleeps. This phrase was coined by Pat Murphy, a longtime supporter and volunteer with United Way KFL&A and it absolutely describes 2020. This year has been an enormous challenge for everyone. When the pandemic first hit in March, none of us knew what to expect. Agencies had to dramatically alter how they operated, while dealing with increased demands from clients. United Way worked to find ways to develop collective and proactive approaches to the situation, working with agencies to ensure our community could continue to serve all residents, especially the most vulnerable. This included everything from finding adequate supplies of cleaning supplies, PPE [personal protective equipment], and takeout containers to helping agencies with myriad technological demands and the enormous challenge of going virtual ? and much more.

The United Way KFL&A COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund was set up almost immediately and our community stepped up in a big way. Because of caring, supportive, and generous donors who saw the needs and trusted United Way, agencies and programs were able to adapt and respond quickly, helping community members in need.

Our volunteers also sprang into action. The 2020 Campaign Cabinet began planning early for the uncertain year ahead.  The United Way board looked at ways to adapt and help. Workplace volunteers also sought to adapt and help in any way possible. As always, I am incredibly impressed with our amazing community.  I constantly marvel at how fortunate we are to have so many volunteers sharing their time, talents and leadership with United Way KFL&A.

As the 2020 campaign approached, we knew things would be different – most fundraising events couldn’t take place in the usual way, many workplaces weren’t fully staffed, and many sectors were struggling or finding new ways to do business.  We put forth a lower, but still ambitious, campaign goal. But as with everything we’ve seen this year, people responded. They saw the needs and those who could donated generously. Many donors increased their previous gift amounts while workplace campaigns found new and innovative ways to support the campaign. Agencies stepped up and helped communicate their needs and the impact of donations in ways they never had before. United Way staff continued to impress with their diligence, hard work and adaptability. Literally everyone came together and made this campaign a huge success.

United Way agencies were created to address local issues, especially in times of crisis and need. As a trusted organization, United Way addresses root causes, supports prevention programs and funds agencies that meet immediate needs.  Our funding decisions directly impact local lives within KFL&A.  With the continued support of our amazing community, this will continue.

COVID-19 has shown that existing gaps in our community are even more prominent, exposing issues such as food insecurity, homelessness, mental health, addictions, and sexual and domestic abuse. There is still significant need in our community and these needs will continue long after the pandemic is over. What’s important is that all organizations, local government, agencies, are working closely together to find solutions and help preserve and deliver the essential programs necessary to support the most vulnerable.

Your support and local love continue to change lives throughout KFL&A. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Bhavana Varma
President & CEO
United Way Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington

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