A year ago Roya was often depressed and frustrated because she could not read a bedtime story to her son, do her banking, or pay her bills on her own, but today the local woman is able to do all of those things and more. Roya (who did not want her last name used) credits the training she has received at Literacy North Halton-- a United Way of Halton Hills funded agency-- for making a huge difference in her life. The 26-year-old Georgetown woman is just one example of many people in the community who have been helped by agencies and organizations that receive funding from the United Way. "Now when my son brings work home from school I can help him, and I can read books to him," said Roya. "I read a book to him every night. Before I could not. Because of Literacy North Halton I was able to fill out an application form for my job. At work I can understand information better and greet customers with confidence." Since she began working with the Literacy North Halton tutors a year ago, Roya has improved her reading ability to the point where she can read articles, answer questions and write short reports. She has also learned proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation, writing and math skills like budgeting, decimals, fractions and how to figure out percentages. "I think this program is wonderful. I hope to continue improving my skills and to someday apply to take high school credit courses." Roya and many other Halton Hills residents receive much needed assistance every day through agencies in town that are funded through the United Way. In fact, Rosslyn Dowell, United Way of Halton Hills board president says at some point, one in three people will be touched by a service provided by a United Way member agency. In total the local United Way funds 15 different agencies including Community Living North Halton, Distress Centre North Halton, Links2Care (formerly Halton Hills Community Support and Information), Halton Trauma Centre and Canadian Mental Health. Kim Robinson, United Way of Halton Hills executive director, said the 2005/06 campaign finished about $20,000 short of the $300,000 goal and she is concerned it could be the same story again this year (06/07). But it's not too late for area residents to ensure that doesn't happen again. "People still have the opportunity to donate in the 2006 campaign year," said Robinson. She said as a result of the $20,000 shortfall last year the United Way's member agencies suffered funding cuts. "If the community wants to invest in itself and its residents then we
need additional support," said Robinson. "We know that we live in a generous community. We're hoping that in the final push people will reach deep into their pockets to support their community," said Dowell. She said throughout Ontario it is not unusual for communities to exceed their goals, while in Halton Hills it has been a struggle. She said a challenge the United Way faces here is the fact there is not a large industrial base to draw support from. "People need to remember to give where they live," stressed Dowell. "It doesn't matter how much or how little, if everyone was able to give a toonie that will take us a long way." Dowell said the organization is very appreciative of its long-term supporters. "We do have a large number of committed people who over a number of years have consistently given generously to the United Way. We want to thank them for their commitment and encourage others to join them," said Dowell. Anyone interested in making a donation to the United Way of Halton Hills 2006 campaign can do so by calling the United Way office at 905-877-3066 or sending a cheque to United Way of Halton Hills PO Box 286, Georgetown, ON, L7G 4Y5. Donations can also be made online at www.haltonhills.unitedway.ca.
Roya credits training she received at Literacy North Halton-- a United Way-funded agency-- with making a big difference in her life.