change lives.

Strengthening leaders in our nonprofit sector

For Mallory Curwin, the United Way has helped make her own first steps at First Steps Housing Project in Saint John more confident during a time that has been difficult for many charitable organizations.

Mallory became executive director of First Steps last year, during the height of the COVID pandemic when social and financial constraints challenged the charity’s fundraising goals and tested community support.

First Steps, a multi-service centre for pregnant and parenting young women, has operated in Saint John for 20 years and is a funded partner of United Way.

But the United Way support extends beyond the financial. Charitable organizations, even those who are not funded partners, benefit from programs and services we offer to keep the non-profit sector in our region strong.

In Mallory’s case, we were able to provide a mentor during her first months of her taking the helm at First Steps. She and others at the organization also benefited from coaching skills training and from a session with other charities on collaboration in the nonprofit sector.

“The United Way has provided numerous workshops and help wherever we needed it,” Mallory says. “I feel that without their help, I really would not have been able to succeed in the way I have over the last year.”

The First Steps program is designed to help break the cycle of poverty that traps so many young mothers and their children. The organization offers services to both pregnant and parenting young women that include mental health care, education, addiction services and child care.

Young women are encouraged to further develop parenting skills, financial management, and complete their high school education or a training program. They are then given the opportunity to live in a subsidized apartment through a program called Second Steps.

Mallory is grateful for the help the United Way has been able to provide, noting that it has strengthened management staff and helped her feel more confident and supported during a challenging time for the agency.

“I had a lot of things I had to rebuild both in the community and in-house. Through the mentoring I had, I was able to talk through those issues and get the help I needed to turn things around. It was a year of rebuilding and we now are back to having a full house of women and children and being able to offer our services in the same way we have for 20 years,” she says.

“I don’t think I could have caught on quite as quickly as I did without having the support and being able to call for advice from someone who is on our side. It would have taken me a lot longer to achieve what I have over the last year without the help of the United Way. I am very thankful.”