October 10, 2014

United Way 2014 ~ we are possibility?

A year ago I was in the first half of my four month secondment to the United Way of the Lower Mainland. I was a Campaign Associate from Local 704 of the BCGEU and from my employer: KPU. It was challenging and fun. I worked with some great people and I would have done it all again this year, had it been possible. It wasn't.

Instead I find myself involved in the employee campaign at KPU and in that capacity I attended the kick-off of the Metro Vancouver Campaign. Free breakfast and networking, whatever the hell that is, and some feel-good presentations and the new campaign video.

At one point in the morning we were given pieces of a puzzle of sorts and somehow, through the confusion of several hundred humans tromping around, the puzzle became a map of the region. At the end, several pieces were missing and the presenter quickly said that was because there was much left to do. When the map was "flipped" it became the slogan for this year's campaign.

The United Way does great work in our community. It makes crucial investments in key areas to make a difference in the lives of people challenged by poverty and injustice. However.

The numbers of children and families living in poverty, of people living rough on our streets, continue to increase. A poverty rate of 20% in a province as wealthy as ours might be acceptable to Premier Christy Clark; it shouldn't be to the rest of us.

A Vancouver homelessness rate that has increased by over 300% in the past 3 years might be an inconvenience to Mayor Gregor Robertson's re-election next month; it doesn't add up in a city with houses and apartments standing empty because wealthy non-residents buy property in this city simply as a hedge.

For real change to happen we need to change our governments and that possibility can't come soon enough for those who need it most. Are we ready?

Photos by Jim Murray. Copyright 2014.

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