In July of last year, a new client joined the United Way funded community partner, Boxes of Hearts Social Enterprise (BOH). Due to a medical condition, severe epilepsy, this individual had been unable to secure employment elsewhere due to accessibility barriers. This client is extremely interested in giving back to their community and joining the workforce. This program has given them the opportunity to work in a safe and inclusive environment, while building on their professional and social skills. This program provided empowering opportunities and accessibility, which they had been excluded from. This client always requires someone with them for health reasons, which most jobs cannot accommodate safely for them. This person frequently emphasizes how much they enjoy participating in the program, the impact of the people, and the deeply meaningful relationships they have made. The skills that this client has successfully built through the program are ones they can utilize in the community and in a future potential safe, inclusive, and supportive workplace. This client has built strong relationships, confidence, and strengthened their customer communication skills. This person truly benefits from these inclusive options, as they develop their skills and protect their health while preparing for the workforce. This client’s experiences truly exemplify the importance of this program program, the impact of United Way Guelph Wellington Dufferin, and the positive influence it has in our community.
United Way is rooted in building strong and inclusive communities. We strive to create opportunities for everyone to reach their full potential. However, many of the issues United Way works to address have a disproportionate impact on black, Indigenous, racialized, 2SLGBTQ2+, people with disabilities, and other marginalized communities. We acknowledge that, due to systemic factors, some members of our community experience barriers to accessing programs, services, and funding. This story comes to you from our Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Impact Area.