Co-op Term With United Way ‘Amazing’
Commerce student learns a lot about her hometown and the importance of United Way services
|Vanessa Young and Gryph helped kick off U of G’s annual United Way fundraising campaign. PHOTO BY MARY DICKIESON|
BY MARY DICKIESON
Even though she grew up in Guelph, Vanessa Young says she’s learning a lot about her hometown in her U of G co-op work term with United Way Community Services of Guelph and Wellington. A third-year commerce student, Young is one of three “loaned reps” who are helping with the 2009 county-wide United Way campaign.
U of G, The Co-operators and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs run three of the city’s largest workplace campaigns and routinely “lend” an employee to work in the United Way’s downtown office during the fall fundraising blitz.
Historically, workplace campaigns account for almost 70 per cent of all dollars raised in the community.
U of G runs the largest workplace campaign in the county, and with a goal of $500,000, the University hopes to raise almost 20 per cent of the $2.65-million target for Guelph and Wellington.
Young is the sixth Guelph student to fill the United Way co-op position. Although her duties centre on the U of G fundraising campaign, she may also find herself making a presentation to factory workers in the middle of the night, calling on a small business owner, organizing an event for high-dollar donors or visiting one of the 80 programs that receive funding from the United Way.
“It’s an amazing experience helping out in the community I grew up in,” she says. “The United Way focuses on helping local people, and anyone can benefit from the agencies it supports — poor, wealthy, children, teens, elderly. The United Way can help everyone.”
Young, who graduated from Guelph Collegiate Vocational Institute, is studying marketing management at U of G. Her first co-op job at Danby Products Limited in Guelph gave her experience in a large manufacturing company; now she’s learning about marketing in a non-profit organization. She is also improving her public-speaking skills and says her favourite part of the job is getting out into the community to make presentations for the United Way.
Janet Brydges, co-op co- ordinator for U of G’s marketing management and real estate and housing programs, says the United Way position “is a great opportunity for commerce students to learn about the not-for-profit sector, an employment area they may not have considered. Our students learn about networking within a community, and they get to meet many individuals and business leaders they wouldn’t normally encounter.”
Brydges says feedback from Young’s predecessors has shown that the United Way work experience “leaves them feeling their work term really made a difference in the lives of others and helps them realize they can use their marketing skills in a very meaningful way.”
When making a presentation on campus, Young reminds her audience to download a United Way pledge form from the U of G website: www.uoguelph.ca/unitedway. She thanks the employee and student volunteers who drive the campus campaign, and talks about the need in her hometown and how important every donation is, large or small.
“The United Way reaches out to our whole community,” she says. “United Way agencies can help everyone, but first we have to help the United Way.”