At this years’ awards celebration, United Way honoured the legacy of two local philanthropists and champions of United Way that we lost in 2018; The Late Anita Robertson and The Late Peter M. Partridge.
The Niagara community and the United Way family suffered a tremendous loss last July with the tragic passing of Joe & Anita Robertson and their daughter Laura. While the Robertsons were known for their generosity and philanthropy throughout the region, Anita’s support of United Way was truly unparalleled. For that reason, the staff and board of United Way decided that one of the ways that we would honour Anita’s memory was to establish the Anita Robertson Legacy Award. This memorial award will be presented annually to an individual or individuals that embody Anita’s kind heart and community spirit.
Anita believed in United Way’s mission with all of her heart, and made it her goal to learn as much as she could about the needs facing our communities and what United Way could do to help. She worked tirelessly volunteering on various committees, from our Board of Directors to the Campaign & Major Gifts Cabinet. Anita & Joe opened their home to host two receptions for United Way donors, deepening our connections throughout Niagara. She understood all aspects of our organization with an appreciation for the necessity of raising funds but also the importance of understanding where those funds would make the greatest impact. Anita was never too busy to support our team. Just months before her passing she joined our staff for a two day workshop to better understand the strategies behind our annual campaign and attended a leadership summit to further our mission on a national level.
In an emotional speech, United Way Executive Director Frances Hallworth shared that “Anita’s true gift to United Way was the gift of friendship. It was not uncommon for Anita to stop by with treats for staff, call from the car on the way to the cottage, send a ‘job well done’ email, or a personal card in times of happiness and sorrow. She was always thinking of others and our staff considered her part of our United Way family.”
In the wake of Anita’s passing, a group of her friends rallied together to support one of the causes close to Anita’s heart, fondly named “The Anita Project”. You can read more about this initiative here. This group of volunteers, spearheaded by two loyal United Way supporters, raised $16,000 to pack 2,000 hygiene kits for people in need. Anita’s dear friends Heidi Burgess and Karen MacKay are the inaugural recipients of the Anita Robertson Legacy Award. While the loss of Anita has been tremendously difficult for them, they have turned their grief into something beautiful by helping thousands in need. They carry on the work that Anita championed in her all too short life. We were humbled to welcome Anita’s sons Taylor and Clark Robertson on stage to present the award. Congratulations Heidi and Karen.
Peter M. Partridge was a longtime donor and volunteer with United Way of St. Catharines & District and a strong supporter of the amalgamation that formed United Way Niagara. United Way’s mission “to improve lives and build community by engaging individuals and mobilizing collective action” was something that Peter strongly believed in, he embodied that mission through his incredible life as a respected leader in Niagara. He was recognized with Community Builder Award, an award presented to an individual that has demonstrated tremendous support to United Way and the community we serve.
His son Peter Jr. and wife Janet accepted the award on his behalf and in a moving speech, Peter Jr. shared that the gospel that was read at his father’s memorial service, ‘The story of the Good Samaritan’ ended with the line – “Go and do likewise”. Peter Sr. exemplified this lesson so often in his life. In addition to his generous support of United Way, Mr. Partridge was a pillar of philanthropy in our community. Peter served alongside his son Peter W. Partridge as Major Giving Co-Chair, sponsored the leadership match with his family, he was an avid croquet player on the lawns of city hall - an annual event he never missed, a loyal and significant donor to our annual campaign, and a dear friend to the United Way team. He will be greatly missed.
There were a number of other awards presented to various organizations for their incredible support during 2018. Congratulations to all of this years winners!
CAMPAIGN OF THE YEAR
Ontario Ministry of Transportation
COMMITTEE OF THE YEAR
Algoma Central Corporation
CORPORATION OF THE YEAR
DAVID MAY AWARD
St. Charles Catholic School
EVENT OF THE YEAR
Songs of the City
LONGSTANDING SERVICE AWARD
Canadian Niagara Power Inc.
City of Port Colborne