United Way Niagara takes pride in its mission to help others, both within the community and in the workplace. United Way fosters new talent through its work-integrated learning programs, in which students have the opportunity to complete an internship or co-op placement at United Way Niagara.
This year, we have had the privilege to work with four incredible students through co-operative learning. Students can build new skills, and our team gets a fresh set of eyes and perspectives that help us find innovative solutions in the workplace.
Please continue reading to learn more about our students and the work they have done throughout their time with United Way!
Lillian Wood: Hi, my name is Lilly. I am a Brock University graduate and recently a Centennial College graduate in the Community Development program. I have had the opportunity to do a student placement in this program, and I was fortunate enough to do this with United Way.
Like many, I have always been passionate about helping others, supporting my community, and wanting to implement positive change. However, I struggled to find out how to mobilize that passion into a career.
My role at United Way was to work closely with the Community Impact team. I was able to work on projects including funding approvals, coordinating sponsorship, event planning, advocacy, developing workshops, research, policy review, and more. This experience has given me the opportunity to develop skills that will propel me forward in my career, and I feel inspired to take on new career challenges and reach new goals.
The most useful learning experience for me has been collaborating with community partners. United Way is a complex organization that connects and collaborates with many diverse community partners. This experience was the most valuable to me because I learned from and worked collaboratively with diverse leaders in our community, working on unique and innovative projects. Working with diverse community leaders allowed me to learn from their unique perspectives regarding innovative solutions to complex problems and their groundbreaking new ways to support our community. The most valuable lesson I’ve learned from my experience at United Way is that we work best when we work together.
Over the last year, I felt incredibly supported and valued as a true member of the team. My placement coordinator made a truly meaningful effort to ensure I got the most out of this experience by allowing me to take on a leadership role, exposing me to diverse projects and positions, challenging me to develop new skills, and demonstrating their sincere investment in my success.
What I am most grateful for now is that my dedication to this role has now grown into a career opportunity, as I have recently begun my new position as a Community Impact Coordinator with United Way Niagara! I am thrilled to continue making a difference in my community and excited that I was able to turn my passion into a full-time position.
Logan Malcolm: My name is Logan, and thanks to Brock University Communications, Pop Culture and Film department’s Internship program, I have had the privilege of working with United Way’s communications team for the past five months. This opportunity has allowed me to collaborate with great minds to help create video ideas to raise awareness for campaigns.
As someone who has experience dealing with mental illness and food insecurity, I was blown away by the hard work and dedication United Way has put into tackling unignorable issues. Despite the added challenges of the pandemic, United Way Niagara has only strengthened its dedication to community investment throughout these unprecedented times.
While helping out on video campaigns regarding homelessness, poverty, and food insecurity, I witnessed the organization’s values firsthand, working to end inequality and equity for all. As I worked on the Giving Tuesday video campaign, I had the opportunity to work closely with staff members to create ideas that would best display the realities of thousands of Niagara locals. With children being the leaders of our future, I proposed that the video focuses on the unignorable issues that many children and their families experience in their lives. To showcase the impact on youth, we used children’s drawings that depicted bullying, food insecurity and poverty in the video. The making of this video further confirmed that United Way Niagara is dedicated to empowering every member of its community by providing the right opportunities needed for everyone to thrive.
United Way Niagara is dedicated to creating positive change and building a better future while emphasizing inclusivity and generosity towards everyone. I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to intern at an organization that is so dedicated to its community. I look forward to witnessing more of their work in the future.
Ruby Hill: My name is Ruby Hill. I am currently a grade 11 student at Governor Simcoe Secondary School. Over the past two years, I have had the honour to play an active role in the Period Promise campaign by creating awareness and collecting donations at school. I am grateful for the opportunity to be fulfilling my co-op placement with United Way Niagara this semester.
During the 2021 Period Promise campaign, I hosted a campaign on behalf of my school, which was a huge success. Despite online learning due to COVID-19 restrictions, I am proud to say our school was able to come together and raise $650 and donate over 500 boxes of period products. Governor Simcoe Secondary School will be participating in the campaign once again this May, with the goal to surpass the success of last year’s campaign.
United Way Niagara has the ability to impact the community and help provide a better quality of life to those in need. I take pride in working with such a wonderful team of strong, like-minded individuals who continue to have an impact on me. I am thoroughly looking forward to seeing how the rest of the year unfolds and the impact the upcoming Period Promise campaign has on the community. My goal for the future is to graduate with my Masters in Social Work along with a Bachelor’s of Sociology. I feel that the work I assist in during my co-op placement at United Way Niagara will help to set me up for success in the world of social work and community involvement. I am beyond grateful for my experience at United Way and look forward to being an active participant in United Way campaigns for many years to come.
Harjot Merwar: Hi there! I’m Harjot Merwar, a Marketing & Communications Assistant at United Way Niagara. I began my journey here through the Co-op program at Brock University, which landed me a four-month internship. I am completing my undergraduate degree in Bachelors of Business Administration with Co-op, on track to graduate this December.
My co-op experience at United Way Niagara has been my best one yet, and I am so grateful to be working for such a great cause and with an even better team. Throughout my role thus far, I have supported the Marketing & Communications team in building and carrying out campaigns, social media plans, website copyright, and everything else in between. One of the main projects I have been working on is the Period Promise campaign, an initiative to help end period poverty. Period poverty is real and impacts an alarming rate of Canadians, and occurs when people do not have the financial means to access period products.
I am excited and grateful to be making a difference by preparing the marketing and communication assets to spread the word regarding the Period Promise campaign. Working on this campaign has opened my eyes to the need for advocacy for women’s health. Periods are a fact of life, yet for many, period products are a luxury. People who menstruate and do not have access to period products are being set behind for their biological makeup, every month they have to stay home instead of going to school, work and social events.
As a society, we can do better, and I am thankful that I am able to take part in making that change while also educating myself on social issues that I was not fully aware of. Thank you to United Way Niagara and the Marketing & Communications team for making this experience possible!
A special thank you to Brock University, Centennial College and Governor Simcoe Secondary School for partnering with United Way Niagara to make this successful. If your organization would like to partner with United Way Niagara for a work-integrated learning opportunity, feel free to reach out to [email protected]