The Government of Canada Workplace Charitable Campaign (GCWCC) is an extension of what public servants do: improve the lives of Canadians. In 2019, public servants and retirees gave just over $30 million to charities across Canada as part of the GCWCC.
To see how donations make a difference, we invite you to read the stories of people whose lives were changed by GCWCC donations. Together, we can have a tremendous impact on the lives of those in need. Our gifts matter.
Diabetes Canada: Support the development of an Indigenous diabetes strategy. Rainier’s story…
Diabetes Canada, a HealthPartners member charity, has a host of programs to help people like Rainier Ward, including opportunities for people to come together for networking, information and support.
“My struggle with obesity and diabetes has been long and challenging. It wasn’t until I decided to take responsibility for myself and my disease that my life started to change,” says Rainier, of the Metepenagiag First Nation in New Brunswick. He is the winner of Diabetes Canada’s Kurt Kroesen Inspiration Award given to an individual or family who “has overcome great odds to manage their diabetes and continue to live a fulfilling, active and inspiring life.” Rainier started drinking at the age of 13, and has been sober since he was 20 years old. A few years later, he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, which has claimed the lives of many members of his family. After experiencing diabetes denial, Rainier began to change his life through diet and exercise.
“I hope to spread the message of health and recovery to my people.”
In Canada, Indigenous peoples are among the highest risk populations for diabetes, a chronic condition that brings with it many serious health challenges. Diabetes rates are 3 to 5 times higher for Indigenous Canadians than non-Indigenous Canadians. Plus, they are diagnosed at a younger age.
Canadian Cancer Society: Robin’s endoscopic procedure was postponed as a result of the pandemic...
“Living with cancer is pretty terrifying in the context of the pandemic.”
On the same day Robin McGee realized she was having a cancer recurrence, she couldn’t reach any of her providers. “Everything’s closed, everyone’s confused and I’m not even on their radar.”
Robin’s endoscopic procedure was postponed as a result of the pandemic. “It’s considered an elective procedure, but I need it before I can start something non-elective – my chemotherapy.” Weeks of worry followed for Robin, along with thousands of other Canadians whose cancer-related appointments were cancelled.
In the past, Robin sought support from a peer-matching program run by the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS). It gave her the opportunity to speak with someone who had been through a similar experience, which she found invaluable. “I wanted to talk to someone who had been through what I had, who’d faced challenges with diagnosis and care. Living with cancer is pretty terrifying in the context of the pandemic.”
As Canadians affected by cancer and their families face uncertainty during these difficult times, many CCS programs continue to be available to support them, including a toll-free helpline, online peer support community, phone-based peer support program and evidence-based information on cancer.ca.
With your support, CCS can continue to support the 1 million Canadians living with and beyond cancer. Please donate so that no one faces cancer alone.
Alzheimer Societies: We’re Ken and Mark. Yes. I live with dementia. Let me help you understand…
Passionate advocates and activists, Ken Walker and Mark Demers’s first dates were often at protests. Professionally Ken loves facilitating and before retirement worked to support people on welfare find opportunities; his husband Mark is a retired nurse.
Initially, Ken was told had mild cognitive impairment, but six months later he was diagnosed with young onset dementia. Ken was 58. The diagnosis brought a sense of relief after the uncertainty, a moment of clarity before a period of grief. They were lucky to have a community of friends around them for support. Ken eventually joined an Alzheimer Society support group – getting to experience it from the other side – and Mark took part in education for caregivers.
Mark says that in his experience, people often try to disguise their symptoms because of stigma. “They waste a lot of bandwidth trying to disguise that they have dementia. Something we know from being gay is that shame can undermine relationships.”
Ken and Mark think that people’s attitudes toward dementia are changing, but it’s not enough yet. “I want people to understand that life can still be full when you’re living with dementia,” Ken says. “It takes work – I have had to learn about my boundaries and focus on the things I care about.”
Your donation to HealthPartners helps Alzheimer Societies offer support, information and education in communities right across Canada.
ALS Canada: Carol struggles with degenerating muscle function daily, but refuses to let it stop her…
“I'm still here - somehow I am one of the lucky ones (depending on your definition of luck) did you know that only 20% of people living with ALS live past 5 years after diagnosis, and only 10% live past 10 years? I am in my 7th year living with ALS.”
Diagnosed with ALS in September 2013 at the age of 41, Carol has surpassed the two to three year life expectancy that was originally given to her by her neurologist. Since then, she has struggled with degenerating muscle function every day – but she refuses to let that stop her.
One of Carol’s biggest struggles while living with ALS has been accessibility. She says that 50 per cent of her waking hours are spent resting and the other 50 per cent are spent working on accessibility issues: for example, expensive wheelchair batteries that drain quickly and leave her in fear of venturing outside on her own, feeling like an observer of society rather than a participant, and loss of control and independence.
Thanks to our generous donors, Carol has been able to access ALS Canada’s equipment program for practical needs like a new shower chair so she can continue to shower independently despite her weakening leg muscles.
Crohn’s and Colitis Canada: Living with Crohn’s has affected all aspects of her life: education, career choices, relationships, travel...
Sherry was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease 40 years ago, on her 18th birthday. When the gastroenterologist told her there was no cure, she didn’t think it applied to her. Looking back, she knows she was in denial.
Since then, Sherry has had five bowel surgeries, two temporary ileostomies and one hernia repair. She has spent months at a time in hospital, made countless trips to the ER and been on intravenous nutrition for a year and a half.
Living with Crohn’s has affected all aspects of her life: education, career choices, relationships, travel. It was especially heartbreaking when Crohn’s complicated her plans to start a family. However, Crohn’s has also taught her so much.
“I know the isolation of being alone in hospital for weeks or months at a time,” says Sherry. “I know the anxiety of the unknown. The social distancing from others. The financial impact of not being able to work. Crohn’s has also taught me to be strong, resilient and brave. Lessons that all of us with chronic illness can use in this time of global uncertainty.”
During the pandemic, she tunes into webinars that Crohn’s and Colitis Canada is hosting with experts to ensure she is getting the most reliable information available.
Research to find cures for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis brings her the greatest hope.
“There is no time like the present to support our researchers. They are our heroes.”
United Way Centraide Stories
Emily struggled at school, but a United Way program helped her get back on track....
“When I was in grade 11, I had a big falling-out with my family and ended up moving out. After I left my family home, I felt really overwhelmed by having to manage school and life. Just getting to school was a challenge on its own, even without the homework. I was falling behind. Then I connected with a United Way high school completion program and the staff really motivated me to want to be there. I want to be a role model for my two younger brothers. Today, I want to give my brothers hope and make them believe that, even if things seem a little challenging now, they can graduate. With the help of people who can give them a safe space to work on their homework and the guidance that they need to understand their schoolwork, they can follow their dreams. They can graduate and go as far as they want to. I’ve had to take a complete detour, and I’ve had to do a lot of things differently in order to get to where I want to be. It’s been very challenging, but it’s definitely been worth it.” — Emily
A good meal has real power. For Alasdair, it helped empower him to change his life...
“After I lost my job, money became really tight to a point where I couldn’t even afford food. An agency supported by United Way helped me make it through. For people living in poverty, including those struggling with mental health issues or homelessness, a healthy meal is really important to their well-being. But sharing a meal means a lot, too.” — Alasdair
Volunteering helped Samantha gain confidence and change her community in large and small ways…
“When I first came to Canada, I was super shy. My English wasn’t very good, and Canada was just completely different from Uganda. I remember our first Christmas here—it was the first time I saw snow. The weather was so cold! My mom was in Canada with us for a while. Then she went back to Uganda. My dad was here too, but he was usually working, so I had to be responsible for my sisters. That was quite hard. But we would do United Way programs. There was a story time program at the library, which I loved. When I first started volunteering, we would go feed people who were homeless. It was nice to give back. Volunteering has helped me become a better person, has given me a lot of confidence and built leadership skills for me as a young woman. Helping my community has more meaning for me now. The more I volunteer, the more lives I want to change and the more people I want to impact.” — Samantha
United Way supporter Alixandra found a way to share her love of reading with children…
“When I think about how I can give back to my community, I try to think of ways I can use my skills. Literacy has been so important in my life, both personally and professionally. Spending time with books is so formative. It can open up your imagination, take you on adventures and help you see the world in a way you might not otherwise be able to.
The United Way literacy camp I volunteered with is particularly important to our community. Volunteering there was such a great experience. I had an opportunity to spend time with young people who are learning to share my love of books and reading and who really want to improve their reading ability.
Hearing from a mom about how important this program has been to her and her children means a lot to me. It’s been so affirming knowing that my donation and my volunteer work is helping both parents and children on their journey. Volunteering is also about knowing that I’m making an impact for entire families. We have a culture of giving that I am proud to be part of.” — Alixandra.
Darquis lives in a food desert. He goes to a United Way supported agency to eat better and spend time with his adopted family…
“My name is Darquis. I was in a major work-related accident a few years ago. Then my wife died and I found myself all alone with my son. I felt so alone. I had been isolating myself since and needed to do something to get back into the world. One day, I ran into a case worker from an agency supported by United Way, at a food bank. When I started working in the agency’s garden, I felt like I was back to work at a new job. I feel like I have a purpose in life. And I want to show my son that you can overcome anything. We live in an area where there’s nothing to eat, as the neighbourhood has no food markets. People who live here, especially seniors, have nowhere to go to get healthy food. Most don’t have a car, so the only option is to use public transit or paratransit, or to ask a friend for a ride just to go to the grocery store. At the agency, we have a weekly booth stand that sells affordable fruits and vegetables.” — Darquis
Public servants and retirees are a diverse and compassionate group with a strong tradition of supporting those in need. Their reasons for giving to the GCWCC are just as diverse. Read about what motivates some of them to give.
If you have a story to share, we’d like to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I have been working to make life easier for children and their families by getting involved in the GCWCC…”
Mary is a moving example of resilience and courage. In 2015, she found out that her three-year-old daughter, Mekena, had a serious illness.
"The doctor told me: “Your daughter has a tumour the size of a grapefruit." Imagine, she was so small. After transfusions and a battery of tests, Mekena began a long cycle of chemo, transplants, radiotherapy and immunotherapy.
Her chances of remission were slim and every step forward seemed to be accompanied by a new obstacle. During these months of intense stress, both my daughter and the team at our local children's hospital demonstrated their incredible strength of character every day.
We lived in the hospital for a long time, though I would come home once a week to do laundry and prepare some homemade meals. I met some incredible people at the hospital. Then, after a number of treatments and hospital stays lasting up to several consecutive months, we finally returned home.
However, the battle was not over for Mekena. This is when I realized that I had to be both a mother and a nurse. A few months later, the after-effects hit me when I was diagnosed with depression, and I had to overcome a new personal hurdle. Today, I am feeling better, as is Mekena, who is now eight years old. Even though things are not always easy, I'm lucky to now have a good job at the Canada Revenue Agency and three healthy children. This good fortune is partly the result of the support provided by the many professionals and volunteers we met during our journey.
Since then, I have been working to make life easier for children and their families by getting involved in the GCWCC. I invite you to do the same by giving to the organization of your choice through the GCWCC. Cherish life and give generously!"
“Although it’s very important to make donations, giving your time can also have an incredible impact..."
By providing a sense of engagement, impact in society and personal well-being, volunteering has transformed Jeff's life. He is now Director of Accessibility at Canada Post.
“Although it’s very important to make donations, giving your time can also have an incredible impact, both on us and the people we help.” Jeff lives with cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. At a certain point in his journey, volunteering gave him a new path for sharing his story with a sense of hope and trust.
Even as a teenager, Jeff met with the families of children with disabilities to help shed some light on the reality of living and growing up with a disability. But in his thirties and forties, he took things to the next level. “I realized I could do more for the community,” Jeff explains. He became involved with several non-profit organizations. For example, when his children were younger, he began to get involved in the local recreation centre where he served as a member of the board of directors for the past six years.
Jeff continues to spend his time with different organizations who make a difference in community life. This has allowed him to play an important part in improving the quality of life of people in his community.
For Jeff, genuine involvement encourages both personal and community growth. In other words, volunteering benefits everyone!
“My hope is that the entire federal government family joins me in giving to the GCWCC..."
Francine didn’t always have the smile that she has today. She had to overcome great hardship before turning over a new leaf.
She smoked her first joint when she was 13. At 18, she tried cocaine for the first time. The following year, she became pregnant. She stopped using drugs during her pregnancy, but started up again after giving birth. This story repeated itself for a third time at the age of 25. “After each birth, I couldn’t stay sober. I was running away from reality.”
Because she lived off social assistance, she would go to the food bank. “I would go for Kraft Dinner, donuts or bread. Once a month, I would also get basic products like milk, ground meat, eggs and canned goods.”
One day, at the end of her rope, she sought help from a community organization. There, she learned how to cook, underwent therapy and took parenting classes. “I also contacted other organizations to find furniture, clothing, school supplies and appliances.”
Thanks to the support she received, she got the courage to escape a toxic relationship with a violent man, with whom she also used drugs.
Francine went back to school in 2012. Two years later, she found a job at Health Canada. Today, she is the proud owner of a house with her husband and now she is celebrating her 10-year anniversary of sobriety.
Now, Francine gives back to the organizations and people who accompanied her during her long battle. “My hope is that the entire federal government family joins me in giving to the GCWCC.”
Your generous gifts are having a real impact on the lives of Canadians from coast to coast to coast.
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