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It is UNITED WAY Time!

I will apologize to those who feel I am preaching with this blog entry ... but perhaps you will also recognize that I am displaying one of my passions, and passion is something you can often read about in this blog. This morning I listened to a story from a very senior executive who needed the support of the United Way some years ago when he lost his wife to cancer and had a young family to raise. He is passionate about United Way! None of us know when we will need help ... think about that!

All across Canada United Way campaigns are gearing up for their annual drive to raise money for the many charities that rely upon them. For me just one of the great things about the United Way is that the impact of my contribution is felt in my community ... not that I don't recognize and help other organizations with different mandates ... but my community is what is MOST important to me.

Ottawa is a nice city, a good place to raise kids and considered to be very safe even by Canadian standards. Yet I was stunned to hear some of the statistics about this beautiful community.

Almost 25% of the children here live in poverty! About 25% of school children experience bullying. Half of our children are not active enough to sustain optimal growth and development.

Almost 10% of the people in Ottawa live with some kind of disability. Only a third of those are employed.

In 2004 there were more than 8,500 homeless people in Ottawa ... it is not decreasing!

There are so many statistics about the need for help at so many levels it is astonishing. The United Way of Ottawa Carleton invested almost $24 million into programs to address these issues.

We know that if we get to the kids in time they have a much higher probability of going on to further education and making a more meaningful contribution to society. We know that with the right programs we have a better chance of helping addicts to get their lives back on track. By spending the money on these issues we are creating a better society and we are better people for giving!

Those of us who are lucky enough to be employed and healthy really should be thankful because it could just as easily be us in need of help. Supporting charities is a habit that we all need to develop, and grow, as we experience the rewards of a good career and good health. Giving back does not just have to be money it can also be time ... but giving back is not something we should even think as optional. Our society depends upon the generosity of those who can give ... the only question should be are you giving enough!

Be generous ... there were 8,000 kids in Ottawa who did not eat breakfast till they got to school. That is incredible in this day and age and in a city as affluent as ours.

Every Canadian city is facing the same challenges ... so GIVE GENEROUSLY!