change lives.

Looking for hope and opportunity

Emerging from winter to the hopefulness that comes with spring, we eagerly await the day we can live our best lives post-COVID.

At times like this, I am mindful of the people in our communities who don’t feel that hope and those who need a helping hand.

This is why the United Way exists – to help. To help move from poverty to possibility, to help our kids be all they can be, to foster stronger communities and healthier people.

Over the last year, we have learned important lessons. The pandemic forced us all to reflect on the importance of adequate income, safe housing and the necessity of access to the internet.

We appreciate human connection more than ever.

The onus is on us to keep focus on how we rebuild our communities – that instead of trying to get back to the status quo, we should all be working toward something better.

At United Ways across Atlantic Canada, we witnessed an outpouring of support and understanding during the pandemic. In launching the Atlantic Compassion Fund for emergency pandemic relief, individual donors and businesses stepped up, gave generously, and found innovative and creative ways to help.

Their trust in the United Way meant we were able to quickly provide food, connection, safe shelter, transportation and mental health support to those who needed it most. It was a bright light in what was otherwise a dark time.

I am thankful for that support and trust.

As communities and citizens, we begin now to grapple with what a post-pandemic future looks like. I believe this presents us with real opportunity – to take that kindness and compassion that was so visible and empowering during the height of the pandemic and make it part of our everyday narrative.

We have a real opportunity to address issues that have entangled us for too long – inequity, poverty, divisiveness and discrimation. Let’s seize this moment to forge a society that prizes equality and inclusion, respect and trust, collaboration and opportunity for all.

In the future, when we look back on this time, will our society be a better place? I think it can be if we all work together.

With gratitude,

Alexya Heelis

Executive Director

United Way Saint John, Kings & Charlotte.