CEO Update from United Way KFL&A – June, 2021

Good afternoon! Hope you are staying safe and healthy and enjoying these gorgeous days of summer. It seems like brighter days are finally here.

United Way of KFL&A’s Annual General Meeting was held this past week.  When I look back at the past year I am filled with gratitude – gratitude to be a part of this amazing community that responded so well to a significant life-changing challenge. This is a community that found the strength, resilience and resources to support needs, the intensity of which we had not experienced.

I have enormous gratitude for the United Way KFL&A staff team, frontline agencies, board of directors, campaign cabinet and volunteers and, very importantly, our donors – you are the reason the United Way can do what it does. Thank you!

This is your United Way and you stepped up and made sure that we found ways to meet the needs of our community at a frightening and challenging time.

This month’s update includes a link to the 2020 annual report which details how COVID-19 impacted programming, funding and distribution.  You will also find more information in this update about United Way’s commitment to Equity, Diversity, Inclusivity and how we are taking a few steps, the first of many, along the path toward Indigenous reconciliation.


The 2020 Annual Report reflects a very unique year. Building on a foundation of strength, the community responded to the devastating global COVID-19 pandemic in ways we had never imagined.  Agencies had to urgently find new ways to serve their clients at a time when no one really knew what was required. The United Way had to quickly find different approaches to support local programs, keep the staff team functioning and safe, and educate ourselves about new community needs that were rapidly emerging.

We certainly didn’t anticipate the exponential growth in demand for food and meal programs.  Homelessness and issues related to mental health and addictions surfaced very quickly. We learned of new areas of need – for example, seniors on low incomes who were isolated and hungry.

The pandemic also exposed the vulnerability in our care systems. The cracks we knew about pre-Covid suddenly developed into deep crevasses.  Not surprisingly, the marginalized were impacted the most.

We quickly learned that collaboration was essential to support the most vulnerable, and new networks seemed to magically pop up that continue to this day. 

We were very grateful for the additional funding resources that were stewarded through United Way, thanks to an extremely successful annual fundraising campaign, new federal funding, and a special COVID-19 Response fund. As a result, over $5.5 million was distributed to approximately 79,000 people in KFL&A. 

If you have the time, I urge you to read about everything mentioned above and more in the 2020 United Way KFL&A Annual Report. Learn about how your local love and support made a difference and continues to make a difference.


June is Pride month and Indigenous National History month.  United Way of KFL&A is committed to an open and inclusive community and continues to work with partners from all sectors and communities to create safe spaces and programs where people can be supported.

Earlier this year, United Way KFL&A recruited a Roundtable of community members to inform and support the work of United Way KFL&A. We celebrate the diversity of our region as we are all richer for it. We believe inclusion increases trust, understanding, respect and collaboration. The issues we face as a community can only be addressed when all in our community feel welcome and live with hope, dignity and a sense of belonging.

With guidance from the Roundtable and our Board of Directors, United Way of KFL&A is working on demonstrating its ongoing commitment to represent the diverse nature of our communities, promoting and practicing inclusion in all things we do.

If you would like to learn more about the United Way’s EDII goals and plans, and for a full list of roundtable members, visit


A big shout-out and thank you to all volunteers, workplaces, community members and staff that made this year’s Day of Caring a big success. As with everything in 2021, this year was a bit different, but we were thrilled that so many stepped up to donate kits and funds to support programs in the community. 300 kits were donated (and more are being dropped off every day). Additionally, items were donated and financial contributions of $7000 were made.

A special thanks to Empire Life, Novelis, Assurant and Korinne Peachey for sponsoring the day; thanks to the Correctional Service of Canada for the space to collect items. Thanks to the many workplaces and community members that dropped off kits on June 11th – it was amazing to see the thought and creativity so many put into the kits. They have now been distributed to agencies throughout KFL&A and are making their way to community members in need. 


Thank you! Your support continues to change the lives of so many impacted by this pandemic. Thank you for your continued. You can always stay up to date by following our social media channels – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn and of course, you can find videos at and regular updates on our website at

Take care. Stay safe and well!  

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

417 Bagot Street | Kingston, ON | K7K 3C1 |
T: 613-542-2674 Ext.1101 | C: 613-929-4828 | Direct: 613-542-4751 |