United Way gears up for the launch of its 2023-24 campaign.

By Pepper Parr

September 9th, 2023



Next Saturday the United Way will hold their Big Pull – it’s the Kick Off event for the 2023-24  fund raising campaign.

At this point there are 15 groups registered for the event that has each group pulling a 200,000 lbs Airbus 50 yards along the tarmac at the Hamilton International Airport.

Brad Park, President & CEO OF United Way Halton & Hamilton.

Brad Park, President & CEO OF United Way Halton & Hamilton and his team are geared up for what will be a multi-month fund raising drive.

Brad points out that one in every six people in the Region have used a United Way service; that amount to 143,000 people who have had their lives impacted in some way by a United Way service.

Everyone knows about the United Way – it is almost taken for granted – which is part of the problem. Is as recognized is as the organization it – the funds that are needed to deliver those services don’t just fall off the back of a truck.

United Way is seen is as the service that holds communities together.

Seven years ago a decision was made to merge all the local United Way groups in the Halton Region – Burlington, Oakville, Milton, Halton Hills and Hamilton into what is now known is as UWHH  –  United Way Hamilton Halton.

Pulling all these individual units together into one large organization meant that the back end services were combined: payroll, basic administration, grant distribution were now one – that resulted in lower costs and in the end better administration.

Park said that at first he wasn’t sure the amalgamation was the best opportunity to streamline the services. At the time he headed up the then Oakville United Way. It didn’t take Park long to realize the upside benefits with relatively few downside problems.

Brad Park, left, with Milton Mayor Gord Krantz

Park now heads up that single administrative organization – he is working within a much bigger picture. The problems in Burlington are not the same is as those in Milton – but the solutions are much the same. Resources from a bigger organization can be moved from community to community with a focus on just where they are needed.

The smaller administrative units didn’t always have the skill sets they needed. With the one organization – there is now much more depth.

“Scale has made a difference” said Park who has been part of United Way in some shape or form for 28 years. He started out giving his Mother a hand – she was part of United Way when he was a boy. “I was stuffing envelopes at the age of 10” he said.

Park did an Arts degree at Guelph University – majored in economics and expected to work somewhere in the corporate sector. Finding a job when he graduated was not is as easy is as he expected. His Mother suggested he help her out and he never left.

He started out in 1995 at the United Way of Cambridge and North Dumfries; spent a good decade as Campaign Director and went on to lead the Brant United Way as Executive Director in 2010 for two years, then took on the CEO of United Way Oakville in 2012, prior to amalgamation. In 2017, an amalgamation  brought Milton, Halton Hills, Burlington, Oakville and Hamilton into one United Way.  Park was appointed CEO of that entity in 2017. “So currently, this is my 29th year with United Way. Between my mother and I, there is almost 70 years of service to the community through United Way.”

Coming out of a pandemic “the UWHH is at the threshold of a new chapter in the community’s journey as they approach the launch of the 2023-2024 Campaign.”

Fifteen people need to pull the plane 50 yards.

The Plane Pull event symbolizes the collective strength and determination as teams come together to pull an airplane. Cogeco Inc. and TD are sponsors of the event this year.

Park said that “Through the 106 local programs and services, we have touched the lives of over 143,562 families and neighbours, providing crucial support and guidance. By focusing on local needs and basing our strategies on evidence, we mobilize our partners to create coordinated, connected, and seamless programs and services that address needs at their source.

“The crucial social services and resources across our local communities have been stretched beyond capacity with ever-increasing demand. we need your support and partnership to make a lasting difference.

“With every dollar raised this year, we create a ripple effect of positive change, improving the lives of those in need and ensuring a more equitable and thriving future for all.”

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