Hamilton, ON – Tuesday, November 28th – For many of the 25% of Hamilton youth living in poverty, every day can be a battle to feel a sense of hope and belonging. United Way supports 74 programs in Hamilton. Of those 74 programs, 23 support vulnerable children and youth who depend on critical funding, including children and youth like Katona.
Katona’s family moved a lot when she was a child, which meant making friends was hard. After four or five times moving to a new place, getting close to people became a scary thing.
As a teen, her family moved to a community with United Way supported programs where she worked in a daycare, received homework help and even went on summer canoe trips. It was through these programs that Katona gained mentors that not only supported her but also pushed her to go further than she ever thought so she could to get “amazing” grades.
Katona says that she was able to both laugh and cry through life’s tougher times with her “agency mom”, a mentor at one of the programs she attended. Eventually, she opened up again and started making new connections. In Katona’s words, “You’re welcome from the jump. You get shown love.”
When her mom told her they would be moving again, Katona decided that she would stay behind in the place she now calls home.
At 18, Katona works as a community engagement outreach worker helping young people get connected to the same sorts of programs and services that changed her life for the better. She plans to use the leadership and time management skills she’s learned through United Way supported programs to attend college.
Katona believes that her transition to adulthood is going smoother thanks to the programs she attended and the mentors she worked with. “They all gave me tiny bits of themselves.”
When you give to United Way, you improve lives locally. United Way Halton & Hamilton works with local agencies and thousands of donors, to change lives right here in Hamilton.
“United Way is dedicated to working with the community to measure and address the challenges that are most pressing in our communities. We ensure that 100% of the donations in Hamilton stay in Hamilton and are invested into important programs at agencies such as the Boys and Girls Clubs of Hamilton,” said United Way Halton & Hamilton President & CEO, Brad Park.
He continued, “About 25% of youth are living in poverty in Hamilton; many of whom have not completed schooling. We need the community to rally together to ensure important community programs have access to critical funding to build a stronger Hamilton for the future.”
United Way’s goal is to make measurable and important progress towards solving our community’s most pressing problems. It’s focused now, more than ever, on ensuring that the organizations is connected to the issues that face each of the communities served, ensuring that all dollars raised local will stay local. United Way will continue to ensure money raised in each community, stays in that community – in other words, local gifts will remain focused on meeting local needs.