Queen's Gazette | Queen's University

Search form

Helping our community in a time of great need

Over the past three weeks, the Queen’s community has come together to learn more about the agencies supported by the United Way through a virtual ‘Lunch and Learn’ speaker series. The Queen’s United Way campaign is currently underway and has a goal of raising $300,179 which represents over 10 per cent of the community-wide goal of $2.9 million.

Last year, over 59,000 individuals in the Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington region were supported through assistance from a United Way agency. The needs now are even greater: over 42,000 people sought help in the first four months of the pandemic alone.

“People who never thought they would need help are now reaching out for help,” says Bhavana Varma, President and CEO of the KFL&A United Way.

In addition to the speaker series, agency speakers have joined faculty and department meetings to share stories of how your donation makes a difference in the lives of those they serve. The speaker events are enlightening and inspiring to get a first-hand understanding of the needs that exist and how they are being met. To have a speaker join your next team meeting, contact James Ligthart, Queen’s University United Way Campaign Chair or David Gordon, Faculty Representative.

Helping youth

“If a young person could do well, why wouldn’t they?” This is a question Shawn Quigley, Executive Director of Youth Diversion posed at the speaker event focused on youth issues. Youth Diversion helps young people overcome various challenges in their lives through mentoring, counselling and support.

“Often we criticize the ‘choices’ a young person has made to get them in a bad situation, without realizing that for many young people, their choices are limited and none of them are positive,” says Quigley.

“United Way came in and adopted us and things changed dramatically, we didn’t have people waiting on the step for a bed in the winter. They stay as long as they need to and we help get them into transitional housing. We provide them with structure and help them. Because of United Way we get to help raise these children and I feel honoured and so proud to know them,” says Denise Lamb of the Kingston Youth Shelter.

United Way helps support the emergency shelter and transitional housing for youth who are homeless. Watch the recording.

Mental health supports in our community

United Way programs through Resolve Counselling help waive fees for people seeking mental health counselling who may not have the means or benefits to do so. “In the past couple of months, studies coming out of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health have shown that approximately 20-25 per cent of people are saying they need some kind of mental health services and in younger people that is 60-65 per cent,” says Kim Irvine-Albano, Executive Director of Resolve Counselling. She said that anxiety is the highest presenting issue their counsellors are seeing right now and that the isolation and uncertainty of COVID-19 are impacting their clients, many who are seeking help for the first time. Watch the recording.

Food security

“One in eight Kingston and area families struggle with food insecurity, and that was before the pandemic,” says Brenda Moore of the Food Sharing Project which works to feed kids in schools through free breakfast, lunch and snack programs. When children can be fed at school, this helps alleviate budget strain for their families by making their food budget go further so they can help pay the rent, hydro and other bills.

“Before the pandemic, meal programs in Kingston fed about 4,000 to 5,000 meals a week. Now, they are serving up to 1,800 meals a day. Food is a fundamental need and we are seeing people who never imagined they would go hungry now needing to access food through these services,” says Bhavana Varma of United Way. “We also heard from many seniors in our region who had no money to buy food.”

To respond to this need, United Way sponsored Good Food Boxes for seniors through Kingston Community Health Centres to ensure seniors have access to fresh food. Watch the recording.

Lunch and Learn Speaker Series

The final lunch and learn event in the series is coming up on Wednesday, Oct. 28 from 12:15 to 12:45 p.m. and will feature representatives from the Elizabeth Fry Society and Dawn House discussing issues facing women and how they are helping them become more resilient. Mark it in your calendar and join by Zoom.

Issues facing women and their resilience

Wednesday, Oct. 28: 12:15-12:45 p.m.

Speakers from Elizabeth Fry Society and Dawn House