Youth commitment to volunteering is worth celebrating


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Media Release
June 5, 2017

Windsor, ON – United Way/Centraide Windsor-Essex County has mobilized 3,704 local students from 17 schools and the YMCA over the last seven years to volunteer in over 25 community gardens throughout Essex County as part of the provincial ChangeTheWorld program. In that time, local students ages 14 to 18 have volunteered a total of 14,114 hours!

Now in its tenth year provincially, ChangeTheWorld calls on youth to be a force for good and volunteer in their community. United Way coordinates the program through its Volunteer Centre, one of 23 centres across the province which support the ChangeTheWorld initiative. Incredibly 250,000 students have donated over 1 million hours of their time province-wide.

“United Way chooses to focus its volunteer efforts on community gardens for a number of reasons,” says United Way Program Manager Missy Sauro. “The students were able to get involved in their neighbourhood and see the impact of the work first-hand. The produce we helped to grow goes directly towards feeding people in need, mainly through the Essex County Food Bank Association, funded by United Way.”

This volunteer initiative takes place in the spring, and students can earn credit towards the annual volunteer hours they are required to complete to graduate high school by preparing and planting local community gardens. The program has also lead to job opportunities for students over the summer.

This year, United Way, members of We Students United and a representative from the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration recognized its ‘Most Valuable Volunteer’ - Katrina Bahnam from St. Joseph's High School - for her outstanding contribution to volunteering in Windsor-Essex County through the ChangeTheWorld program.

“Teaching youth how to make a positive difference in their local community is critically important as we work to reduce poverty,” says Lorraine Goddard, CEO United Way. “Through ChangeTheWorld, young people gain perspective on the challenges of accessing fresh produce and they learn about the solutions too.”

Since 2010, community gardens have increased from 2 to 52.  United Way helped to lead the way in developing a coordinated strategy for growing a variety of fresh produce and sharing the bounty produced by these gardens to support those in need. Excess produce grown at United Way-funded community gardens is distributed to over 50 agencies and programs in Windsor and Essex County, including kids in After School and Summer Lunch programs, as well as to other food hubs in Ontario. Nothing goes to waste!

Anyone wishing to learn more about volunteering can contact United Way at 519-258-0000 x1185 or visit to learn about local volunteer opportunities.


Media Contact:  Karen Brady, Interim Vice President, Marketing & Communications  |  Work: 519-258-0000 x1213  |  Cell: 519-564-8554 
Twitter: @UnitedWayWE  |  Facebook: United Way Windsor-Essex  | Instagram: UnitedWayWE  | LinkedIn

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United Way/Centraide Windsor-Essex County
300 Giles Boulevard East, Unit A1
Windsor, Ontario N9A 4C4
t: 519-258-0000 | f: 519-258-2346
Charitable Registration #: 10816 0334 RR0001