Tough times have a way of bringing out the best in people. That’s something we have learned at United Way. Throughout Toronto’s history people have responded to serious challenges in inspiring ways. Once again last year, Toronto came together to face adversity head-on.
When 2011 began, the worst of the recession seemed to be behind us. Experts suggested we were moving slowly but steadily toward better times ahead. But even as some economic indicators appeared to be improving, health and social service agencies across Toronto reported rising demand. Our city was not bouncing back as we had hoped.
Through Toronto’s generosity, United Way was able to help cushion the negative impact of this fragile economy. In June 2011 we announced that we would be investing a record amount in our community to support the health and social services people rely on in difficult times. These funds also allowed us to continue to work towards building Toronto’s resiliency through long-term strategies.
By bringing everyone together — individual donors, community agencies, the private sector and partners in government — we helped provide critical community services at a time of growing pressure and rising need.
In 2011 we also made significant progress on United Way’s long-term strategy for creating lasting change. We celebrated the opening of our fourth of eight Community Hubs serving high-need inner suburban neighbourhoods. And we moved forward with efforts to build resident leadership capacity across all 13 priority neighbourhoods.
Perhaps the most well-known example of people joining together in a common purpose was United Way’s 2011 campaign. It launched in September against a backdrop of deep uncertainty about our economy — but we set a goal of raising $116-million because we knew we had to do everything in our power to help our city through another tough year.
It says so much about our city that, when confronted with challenges, we join hands and come together with a common resolve that we can — and will — make a difference. In 2011, at a time when so many people were struggling, we chose once again to help one another.
With one week remaining in our campaign we were behind our goal. We appealed to our city for help, and over the next eight days Torontonians opened their hearts. Our final result: a truly incredible $115-million.
Even with that difficult year now behind us the road ahead remains uncertain. But we are confident the same spirit of generosity and caring that has helped Toronto through the last four years will continue to build a stronger, healthier and more prosperous city for us all.