United Way is responsible for Gabby’s first job. It wasn’t through a job-search program or a resume workshop.
It wasn’t by connecting her with a mentor or by helping her build her network. Instead, United Way helped by giving a local not-for-profit organization the resources to hire paid staff. Gabby did the rest.
As a college student in Belleville, Gabby had been involved with a United Waysupported children’s after-school program. “That’s really what got me started with United Way,” she says. “I saw where the work went, saw where the money went, saw how important it was.
These kids were underprivileged. Their parents didn’t have a lot of money. They had issues at home, but they got tutoring and support from this organization. And that’s what got me sold right off the bat.”
Gabby’s first job was also with a United Way agency. “I was their first paid employee. I loved that job. I did everything. It was a great opportunity.” When Gabby later came to Hamilton/ Burlington, she says, “It was natural for me to get involved with the United Way here. Contributing was a natural thing for me to be able to do. I can, so I do.”
A grandmother and now long-time Hamiltonian who works in Burlington, Gabby is a loyal United Way donor because she knows the money stays in her community. “It helps people who could be my next-door neighbour,” she says. “That could be myself at some point.”
As a donor, she also does her homework and recommends other supporters do the same. “You’ll get a better sense of confidence that you’re contributing to something worthwhile. Chances are you’re going to know somebody who benefits from United Way”.
When children and adults with intellectual disabilities have an opportunity to participate in programs, “its almost like there’s a seed that’s planted, and it gets nourished by the interactions with their peers, program facilitators, and community as a whole”.