After many years at United Way Niagara, I’ve learned that even a small change can really make a difference to someone in need. That was the shared sentiment when I visited one of our community partners this spring.

Now and then, I like to get out of the office (or home office!) and visit our partners in the community, watching our impact in action.

I stopped by Westview Centre4Women to chat with staff and the people I’ve come to recognize over the years. When you come into Westview, you are always welcomed with a smile. The drop-in centre has been a busy hub of activity since it opened in 2007, even more so since COVID began to affect our community. The centre caters its services to low-income women and their children, including those experiencing homelessness. It can be overwhelming when you hear about everything they do to help Niagara. This time I had the pleasure of chatting with Janice, a regular attendee for the last five years. She openly discussed her life with me and all the support she receives from Westview.

“Every single box helps one person make it through a month.”

One of the services she spoke highly of was the pantry – a grocery store-style program – where ladies can pick up extra items and necessities when budgets are tight. The pantry program offers food and hygiene items at very low prices. For example, five dollars can buy you enough food for multiple meals and helps to ease the burden of ever-rising grocery prices.

“For many women, money runs out around the 18th of the month – but there is still a week and a half left, and there’s just no money to buy food,” said Jane LaVacca, Westview Centre4Women’s Executive Director.

Westview is one of the beneficiaries of the Period Promise campaign. The agency regularly receives period products to either supply clients onsite or stock the pantry so ladies can purchase their own to bring home.

You may think that donating one or two boxes isn’t going to do much but think about this: every single box helps one person make it through a month. When you are living on a low income and trying to make ends meet, this makes a world of difference.

As I was leaving, I asked if they needed period products before the end of the campaign, to which they replied, “We always need them.”

I happened to have products in my car from a collection done by Ridley College earlier this spring. When I brought it inside, the response brought tears to my eyes. They were all so grateful for this small gesture.

The issue of period poverty goes well beyond this agency and this neighbourhood. Rising costs make it difficult for families who were ok just months ago. Compounded with the silent epidemic of rising domestic abuse over the last few years, women are leaving their homes with nothing at all to break the cycle of domestic violence, seeking refuge in overflowing shelters. These increased needs for support mean that more and more people are experiencing poverty, some for the first time.

Our community partners do fantastic work with those they serve, and this is something small and simple we can all do to help support them.

You can make a difference in someone’s life today by supporting the campaign. Donate either physical products at one of our shop & drop locations, at our community collection day on May 27th at the Seaway Mall OR make a financial contribution any time of the year.

Help us reach our goal of 10,000 packages to support people living in poverty. Every box, every item, every gift makes a difference.

Ashleigh Doyle is the Marketing and Communications Manager at United Way Niagara and has been with the organization for over 11 years.