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News / Statements

One Year Anniversary of Atlantic Compassion Fund

It’s been one year since COVID-19 became part of our daily lives here in Nova Scotia. It’s an anniversary we likely never dreamed of, and it’s one that most of us won’t forget. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced all of us to change quickly, and often. When public health restrictions began last March, we immediately saw some significant gaps in the community. Those who were marginalized and vulnerable before the pandemic were suddenly pushed even further behind. Access to the people, places and supports that helped them get through the day were now out of reach. The in-person programs and services people in our community depended on were forced to close overnight.

On March 17, 2020, along with the 10 other Atlantic United Ways, The United Way of Pictou County launched a COVID relief fund called the Atlantic Compassion Fund. This collective response was a game changer for many communities in our region, and it’s one we’re very proud. It positioned us to immediately begin responding to the crisis.

United Ways have always been a bridge between donors and community need, and we quickly jumped in to make that connection easier and faster than ever before. The response from community was heartening –individual donors and businesses stepped up, gave generously, and found innovative and creative ways to help. Their trust in us meant we were able to quickly provide food, connection, safe shelter, transportation, and mental health supports to those who needed it most.  It was a bright light in what was otherwise a dark time, and we are forever grateful for this demonstration of compassion.

There have also been incredibly important lessons learned over the past year. Many of the changes forced by public health measures have made us a kinder, more empathetic community and province. The supports created to help people during the pandemic helped us all reflect on the importance of things like an adequate income, a safe home and access to the internet. We appreciate human connection, social relationships and the ability to keep in touch more than ever. Inequities and racism are even more obvious. The onus is on us to keep these lessons at the center of how we rebuild and reconnect our communities and organizations. Looking forward, we believe that instead of trying to get back to the status quo, we should all be working toward (and expecting) something better instead.

The pressures of the pandemic are still great, and the uncertainty can make it difficult to plan for or contemplate the future. And yet, many of us do have the time, opportunity or privilege to look ahead and consider what might be next. If that includes you, we encourage you to think bigger and bolder.

How can we build stability into our community, so our businesses, non-profits and residents are more resilient? How can we take that kindness and compassion that was so visible and empowering during the height of the pandemic, and make it part of our everyday lives? We’ve seen how racism and inequities are holding people back – how can we truly make diversity and inclusion a priority?

As an organization, we know that we can and must do better. Compassion, respect, trust and collaboration, will continue to guide our way forward.  We’re stronger as a municipality, province and region when we look out for one another. This point in time has inspired us to keep creating, innovating, and finding more ways to stand up for the needs of Pictou County.

In another few years, we’ll look back again at this anniversary. The question is, will our society be a better place? We think it can be, if we all work together.

Richard Carter, President                       

Ellen Fanning, Executive Director

United Way of Pictou County

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Our statement on anti-black racism

Systemic racism exists across the world and in our local communities. For generations, African Nova Scotians have experienced inequities due to systemic racism, and still do today. As an organization that is guided by values of compassion and respect, we can and must do better.

Our organization must listen to and learn from the first-voice perspectives of African Nova Scotians, amplify their voices, invest in their communities, and address inequities and injustices.

The United Way of Pictou County will continue to be a leader in our community with not only our voice but our actions.  We will be paying attention and we will continue to monitor ourselves to ensure we live up to our commitments of listening, investing, amplifying, and addressing inequities.

Black lives matter.

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