4-stories

 maimoona

Maimoona is only 22, but the struggles she’s faced extend far beyond her years. At just 19, she was homeless, afraid and completely hopeless.   

“I was being physically and emotionally abused at home,” explains Maimoona. “My options were to either commit suicide or run away.”

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 distant

Distant Thunder knows what it’s like to grapple with your identity. Growing up in the foster-care system as an Aboriginal boy in a predominantly white community, he struggled to fit in. “Kids teased me,” he says. “I was different.”

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 rita

Whether a friend, parent or spouse, losing a loved one is a devastating experience. For Rita Greham-Benjamin, the day her husband passed away was the day her life completely changed. She didn’t just lose her husband—she lost her best friend.

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 peace ranch

People who suffer from serious mental health issues often face a range of barriers that prevent them from enjoying successful, productive and enriching lives. Barriers can include a lack of access to education, lower rates of employment and social isolation.

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Life is Amazing Today - Carl

Carl is an early riser. Being up before the sun every day is just a normal part of the routine. He washes up, gets his son to daycare and then it’s off for a long day of installing storm doors and porch enclosures in Caledon. He picks up his son, has dinner and then calls a baby sitter so he can get to an AA meeting the next city over.

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I see a huge impact on my children. They are ready to learn. - Maria

Some of the most basic learning tools can be found in a classroom: pencils for the writing and erasers for the mistakes – building blocks that are needed to help kids succeed. Today, Maria’s children are using these tools in classrooms, ready to learn – and it’s thanks to a United Way-funded program at Caledon Parent-Child Centre.

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 Whatever ideas you have Just Go For It Put your heart into it

A community garden has sprouted in the Colonial Terrace neighbourhood. Along with the rows of peppers, tomatoes and herbs, comes a feeling of community that is growing right along with them.

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 Hope for a brighter future

Eighteen year old Mark moved to Canada with his family almost three years ago.  From the moment they arrived they struggled to find safe shelter.  Mark’s mother became depressed and suicidal. Sometimes she would physically abuse him.

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 mike

Mike struggled with depression for 12 years before he hit rock bottom. He emptied his bank accounts, cashed his insurance policies and drove to a Niagara Falls motel, ready to end his life.

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 alex

In September 2013 Alex’s father encouraged him to sign up at Poly Cultural Immigrant Community Services for the Youth Achievers (YA) program. At 18, Alex was very shy, so adjusting to life in Canada after immigrating was difficult for him. “We want him to become more social with others,” Alex’s father explained to the Youth Achievers Staff. “His mother and I hope that this program will help.”

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 Aaliyah

At 16, Aaliyah left home. She had been sexually abused by her uncle, and felt that family gatherings were too painful. She sought comfort at the Emergency Youth Shelter at Our Place Peel, but was in a very low place. She believed the abuse could have been her fault and used self-harm to medicate her pain resulting in several hospital visits. Aaliyah left Our Place Peel and began living on the streets. She started stealing and heavily using drugs.

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 sara

Sara was in the final days of her pregnancy when she arrived at Interim Place. After her husband left for work, she packed her bags and three year old son, and left the abusive relationship once and for all. The abuse had gotten worse with her pregnancy, and Sara feared for the life of her unborn child.

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 donna

Most people in Donna’s small town knew how to communicate with her, despite her hearing loss, so moving to a retirement home in Peel presented new challenges.

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 beatriz

Brampton resident Beatriz is a building member of her Spanish community and church. In her community, there was a lack of available information and a prevalent stigma towards mental illness, so she decided to attend the Train the Trainers program at MIAG Centre for Diverse Women and Families.

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Megan Koch is what we like to call an everyday hero - not the kind who does great deeds under the glare of the spotlight, but rather the kind who works quietly behind the scenes to make Brampton, Mississauga, and Caledon better places to live. She’s the kind of everyday hero needy kids can’t live without.

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Audley has been a long-time supporter of United Way both as a donor and as a volunteer. He did this because he thought it was the right thing to do. It never dawned on him that one day his family would benefit from United Way funded programs.

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One’s past is often difficult to manage and reconcile, particularly when it contains darkness and pain.

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 clarke

Kerryn Graham wants the best for her children. But, as any parent knows, it can be hard to give your kids everything they need for a good start in life.

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 nate

Growing up, Nate Scott struggled to picture his future. He had a passion for photography, but like many young people, he was at risk of falling between the cracks.

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 anna

Anna led a remarkable and accomplished life with a successful career in international development where she was accustomed to living in some of the toughest conditions in the world. In Sudan, she led a peace making project in one of the most dangerous areas in the country. But none of those experiences tested her resilience as much as being faced with poverty in her own life.

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 bcac

Every member of this community deserves the opportunity to live a healthy, productive and vibrant life. But many young people in Peel face multiple barriers to success that put them at an increased risk of poverty, and of never achieving their full potential.

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I want to make a difference and help youth find themselves - Tamika

Tucked away in the multi-purpose room of a Mississauga high-rise community, there are little balls of energy bouncing off the walls. This scene repeats itself every week at the United Way-funded program offered by Boys and Girls Club of Peel Region.

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...youth are dicing,  mincing and chopping  their way to a  healthier future.

Think back to when you were fifteen. Apart from your steady diet of junk food and PB & J, did you know your way around a kitchen?

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 Thank you from the bottom of my heart

Cristina is a single mother who struggled to put food on the table for her family:

“I didn’t have enough food for my children and for myself. My children would always ask – “Mom, aren’t you having dinner?” I would always reply that I wasn’t feeling well. Little did they know I didn’t have enough food to feed us all.”

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 gems

“The Girls Empowerment Movement (GEMs) is all about empowering girls in the community,” said Tanya, a grade 10 student. “I have become more confident with myself and my surroundings because of the mentorship at GEMs!”

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 matt

Matt struggled with addiction his whole life. After a few years in different shelters, including St. Leonard’s Place Peel (SLP), he tried to make it out on his own. In the only apartment he could afford, Matt was surrounded by substance abuse. Matt had a problem with alcohol in the past, but in this new environment he developed a chemical substance dependency as well.

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 kara

Kara didn’t know anyone in Bolton when her family moved from Niagara Falls with her husband and two year-old daughter Ruth. With her husband’s long hours, Kara found raising Ruth on her own difficult.

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 learning

From early childhood Hudhayfah had difficulty learning. By grade four, he was diagnosed with Severe Communication and Language Impairment and placed in a special learning class. Hudhayfah didn’t like his new class because he felt ‘different’ and was determined to go back into the main schooling stream. 

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 winnie

After emigrating from Hong Kong, Winnie wanted to get involved with her community and began volunteering with the Carefirst Seniors and Community Services Association. She worked with fellow volunteers to create a theatrical performance that would explain how to prevent elder abuse to members of the community. She performed at several Elder Abuse Prevention and Education Program workshops with great success.

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 lee

Lee first came to Catholic Crosscultural Services (CCS) for immigration information, but her timid demeanor led CCS staff to believe she was having trouble at home. Using an interpreter, they asked Lee about her adjustment to life in Canada. Lee explained that she was being physically, psychologically and financially abused by her husband.

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“They told me I was a liability – a fire hazard.” Ten years ago, Damon Pfaff was kicked out of local community centres for spinning on his head. But now, 24-year-old Pfaff is back in those same centres teaching kids how to express themselves through breakdance. Pfaff and Marcel DaCosta run RHYTHM – a 12-week hip-hop dance program supported by a Youth in Action grant funded jointly by United Way and the Region of Peel.

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Everyday Gina offers seniors in our community emotional support, remind them to take their medication and ensure that they are safe.

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Nashambi is a 23-year-old woman caring for her two young daughters; Eliana and Kateleia. This young family is facing challenges including; abuse, single-parenting, mental health issues, and disabilities.

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