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United Way Reduces Funding After Needs Target Comes Up Short

Falling short of the 2022 campaign needs target will result in some changes to the United Way of Sarnia-Lambton funding portfolio to fund as many local priorities as possible.

Last evening the volunteer Board of Directors approved the 2023 – 2024 Community Investments to 28 programs in Sarnia-Lambton. This funding portfolio maintains 25 existing funded programs, an increase to 1 funded program, a decrease to 1 funded program, the elimination of two funded programs and funding to a new program through the Critical Services Grant Fund.

With the assistance of the volunteer Community Investment Committee, the volunteer United Way Board of Directors changed its local Community Impact agenda after Covid 19 struck. “The needs in our community changed quickly with the pandemic, and the United Way had to position themselves to respond as quickly as possible”, said Gerry Whitcombe, Community Investment Committee Chair. “Poverty and housing issues have been on the rise over the years, and Covid made those issues even worse,” he added. As a result, the Board set the following three priority areas for the volunteers to follow during their review of funding requests.

Poverty to Possibility – approximately 44% of available funding

Healthy People, Strong Communities – approximately 31% of available funding

All That Kids Can Be – approximately 25% of available funding

The volunteers identified which programs fit into one of the priority areas and then had to work within the Board approved budget of each priority area. “The volunteers also review the future measures for the success of the programs and review the past successes of those programs which received funding during the last funding cycle,” said Whitcombe. “Collaboration and partnerships with other service providers is an essential part of our review process, even more so with reduced funding available. Working together avoids duplication and inefficiencies and creates more of a possibility of success for the clients when service providers work together. All of the volunteers deserve a big thank you for their time and dedication to this process, and we want to thank the thousands of Donors as well,” Whitcombe added.

Youth Life Skills (John Howard Society), and Transitions Facilitator (Community Living) will not receive funding for 2023-24. The Youth Life Skills program withdrew its application as its services were being duplicated through the opening of the youth wellness hub and other drop-in type centers, which are now available in our community. The Agency will still support youth through partnerships with these other service providers and will offer their expertise should any community agency need it. Community Living (Transitions Facilitator) unfortunately had to be cut from the funding portfolio. “Although this program does amazing work, our available funds and funding priority targets just does not allow us to continue to fund this program,” said Whitcombe. The United Way is committed to working with this Agency to assist them in finding other funding for this program.

The sole increase of $8600 was awarded to the YMCA Resource Houses program. This program services children in geared-to-income housing neighbourhoods with before and after-school snacks and, in some instances, lunches to take to school. The increased need and cost of food both contributed to the need for additional funds. The YMCA Autism Summer Camp will see a decrease of $13,000.

The Board of Directors also approved a one-year Critical Services Grant of $15,000 to River City Vineyard to purchase 50 hospital-grade mattresses for their shelter expansion. “This expansion will be for the “hard to house” homeless population that generally live on the streets and have no other options of where to sleep,” said Whitcombe. They generally suffer from addiction, mental illness, or both and have a hard time securing and staying in long-term housing. We want to keep them safe and off the streets not only for their own good but for the communities as well.

United Way of Sarnia-Lambton is proud to participate in the Government of Canada’s Community Services Recovery Fund, a collaboration between United Way Centraide Canada, the Canadian Red Cross, and Community Foundations of Canada. The Community Services Recovery Fund will support a vast array of Community Service organization’s as they recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Community Services Recovery Fund aims to support the adaptation and modernization needs of non-profits and charitable Community Service Organizations facing immediate and long-term impacts of the pandemic as they continue to support communities. Community Service Organizations can apply from January 6, 2023, until February 21, 2023. Locally, $332,814 will be available through this funding stream. For more information or to apply, visit or contact Pamela Bodkin at


For further information, please contact:

Dave Brown, Executive Director (519) 336-5452 Ext. 7 or email

Gerry Whitcombe, Volunteer Community Investment Chair 519-466-6135

Local Community Investments 2023 to 2024

Big Brothers Big Sisters Matching Program 80000

Big Brothers Big Sisters Big Bunch 20000

Big Brothers Big Sisters Go Girls & Game On 30000

BGC (Boys & Girls Club) Out of School Programs 81667

BGC (Boys & Girls Club) Summer Program 12000

Canadian Red Cross Meals on Wheels 31000

Canadian Red Cross Transportation 58000

Canadian Red Cross Homeward Bound 30000

County of Lambton COVID-19 School Food Delivery 16650

Family Counselling Centre Counselling 87000

Family Counselling Centre Distress Line/Tel Check 50782

Family Counselling Centre Suicide Prevention 20000

Habitat for Humanity Handyman Program 15000

Inn of the Good Shepherd Income Tax Clinics 28000

John Howard Society Rapid Housing 70000

Lambton Elderly Outreach Transportation 55000

Lambton Elderly Outreach Meals on Wheels 16600

New Beginnings, ABI & Stroke Recovery Community Integration 20000

North Lambton CHC Opening Doors (Sarnia & Forest) 60000

Rebound Early Intervention & Prevention 50000

Salvation Army Rent/Utility Assistance 40000

Salvation Army Dental Assistance 17000

Salvation Army Medical & RX Assistance 10000

Salvation Army Hearing Aid Assistance 10000

YMCA Resource Houses 93600

YMCA Autism Summer Camp 30000

Walpole Island First Nation Warming Shelter 55000

Additional Community Investments

United Way Direct Community Services 170000

Donor Option to Other Agencies 90000

River City Vineyard Critical Services Grant 15000

Federal Government Community Services Recovery Fund 332814

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