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#LongestNightPeel Champions: Daniele Zanotti is no stranger to leading change in the community

Author // Daniele Zanotti Categories // Strong Communities

#LongestNightPeel Champions: Daniele Zanotti is no stranger to leading change in the community

It’s that time of year again – on Friday, February 9, 2018, hundreds of change-makers in Peel Region will be sleeping in their cars.

More than 230,000 people in Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga are struggling to afford basic needs like food, housing, and transportation. And too many people in our community end up having to call their car their home. #LongestNightPeel invites everyone in our community to sleep in their cars to raise awareness and funds to fight poverty and homelessness in Peel Region.

Anyone can participate in #LongestNightPeel! However, a few high profile individuals in our community have signed up to participate in the event and lead the fundraising initiative. Leading up to February 9, our blog will feature those individuals who have committed to raising $5,000 through their personal and professional network.

Meet Daniele Zanotti, the President and CEO of United Way Toronto & York Region! This change-maker is an incredible community leader with more than 20 years of experience in the public and non-profit sectors, and he will indeed be sleeping in his car on February 9.

Daniele is dedicated to United Way’s mission to eradicate poverty, and he hopes to inspire other community leaders to join the fight against poverty.

Here’s what he has to say as #LongestNightPeel approaches:

“This year’s record-breaking cold-snap forced our region to take a hard look at the homelessness crisis in this region. The lack of beds and supports is a difficult reality to face. For most of us, living with homelessness is unimaginable, and the health risks people experience because of the cold and no shelter are unthinkable.

And we know, individuals living with homelessness experience this crisis in many different ways. We know that homelessness looks different in Toronto versus the 905 where much of it is hidden and individuals are couch-surfing or living in their cars.

This is just one of the reasons I accepted the challenge of The Longest Night – a challenge to spend the night alone in my car in the dead of winter. Because we know that no matter how homelessness plays out in different cities and towns across our region, we all need to do more to address to raise awareness and work towards solutions.

We know too that while spending the night in a car will not bring an end to homelessness, it will shine a light on this serious issue.  It will remind all of us that we need to continue working together to create solutions that work for everyone. Whether it’s advocating for a portable housing benefit, working towards income security or increasing community supports, all this and more needs to be done.

And we know that we all need to work together more closely because we know that issues like homelessness have no boundaries. That’s one of the reasons, we’re combining forces. As a merged entity, United Way Toronto & York Region and United Way Peel will be able to harness our expertise — our frontline community experience, research and advocacy work, fundraising capability, and partnerships — all to engage people from all walks of life to create the kind of strong communities that make our region great.”

Thank you for creating possibility in our community, Daniele!

Just like Daniele, you can take the pledge to sleep in your car on Febraury 9 for #LongestNightPeel. Join us in raising awareness and funds to fight poverty and homelessness in Peel Region.

For more information, click here.

Cover photo courtesy of the Toronto Star

About the Author

Daniele Zanotti

Daniele Zanotti

Daniele Zanotti was named President & CEO of United Way in June 2016.

With more than 20 years of experience in the public and non-profit sectors, he has earned a reputation as an accomplished, strategic, and energetic leader. Daniele served as CEO of United Way York Region from 2007 to 2015. During that time he led an evolution that transformed the charity from federated fundraiser into a convener, mobilizer, and agent of community change. Under his guidance, the charity launched new initiatives to foster community dialogue; invested in more targeted and effective ways; and brought new social services to the communities most in need.

In 2015, Daniele was the catalyst of an historic merger between United Ways in York Region and Toronto. He committed himself and his organization to a broader alliance for community change — and established a new regional organization that is now better positioned than ever before to tackle issues on both sides of Steeles Avenue.

Following the merger — as the new head of resource development and captain of the first-ever United Way Toronto & York Region fundraising effort — Daniele led the 2015 campaign to a record-breaking achievement: $100-million for United Way’s agencies, programs, and initiatives. In this capacity he also played a fundamental role in driving greater alignment between strategies for youth, poverty reduction, and community investment across Toronto and York Region.

Before joining United Way Daniele served organizations like the Rexdale Community Health Centre; the Regional Municipality of York; Family Day Care Services; and Villa Charities Foundation. He is deeply involved in the community outside of his professional career. Daniele has been a member of the steering committee for CivicAction, and has volunteered on the boards of the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC); the Human Services Planning Board of York Region; and the Vaughan Community Health Centre.

Daniele has a Masters in Social Work from the University of Toronto and Bachelor’s Degree from York University. He lives in Vaughan with his wife and 2 children.


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