Women have been making a significant impact in the Kingston area through their contributions to the United Way and volunteerism in the community for a number of years.
This year, United Way Canada officially launched Women United – an initiative that aims to bring women and resources together under the United Way umbrella in order to change lives and have a lasting positive impact in their local communities.
“Our United Way has always had a large number of female leaders who have been making a difference in our community for over a decade,” said Bhavana Varma, President and CEO of United Way KFLA. “Through our local Women United initiative, we are offering opportunities for members to learn more about local issues, provide them with forums for learning and sharing opinions, and engage in discussions that will shape solutions for the future.”
Women United members can be active as philanthropists at many different levels: as Visionary ($10,000+), Advocate ($5,000-9,999), and Influencer ($1,200-4,999), each with its own benefits and levels of commitment.
In recent years, the Women Leaders of the Way network (now Women United) have participated in special tours and learned more about issues facing our community. Together, they have reached out to help the most vulnerable people in Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington and through this new banner they hope to continue.
“There are times in your life when you need to turn inward, to care for yourself or your loved ones. And then there are other times, when you can turn outward and direct your care and attention to the community,” explained Women United committee member Jane Lapointe. “Women United helps us focus that attention in the community and really help those in need and I really appreciate that.”
In the Kingston area, these attentions have been most recently focused on issues that impact women in the community.
“We know that we have a high rate of female homelessness (higher than the Canadian average) and a high rate of human trafficking, addictions and mental health among women of all ages in Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington
,” explained Varma. “These are issues that women in our community are passionate about resolving, they want to help and want to learn more about these issues. We can work towards those goals through Women United.”
Learning opportunities are facilitated through receptions and smaller events with speakers who work with women in the community and women who have lived experience and can offer a new perspective. These personal, poignant stories provide an opportunity to enhance knowledge and understanding of the current issues surrounding addictions and mental health, particularly in the female population.
Locally, Women United members are thrilled to be part of this initiative and each of them has a different reason for continuing to give back and show their local love.
“I feel a sense of duty to the women that have gotten us this far, and to the young girls and women that follow,” said Lapointe. “There is something very special happening around the world right now and Women United is evidence of that right here in Kingston.”
To learn more about Women United visit https://www.unitedwaykfla.ca/womenunited/ and check out blog posts from past events below.