By Dexter LeRuez
Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) is partnering with United Way Greater Toronto once again to raise funds for the organization.
According to TMU’s website, the fundraiser seeks to “build a better, stronger [Greater Toronto Area (GTA)].” Over one million dollars has been raised for the organization since the school’s “giving campaign” began in 2015.
United Way Greater Toronto’s website states that it works with 300 local agencies to design solutions that prioritize those “left behind.”
In an interview with The Eyeopener, TMU president Mohamed Lachemi said he believes partnering with the organization works towards its vision for a more equitable and inclusive society.
“Community building is core to TMU’s values,” said Lachemi. “By partnering with United Way Greater Toronto, TMU [can] fund a network of over 300 agencies and initiatives that work to ensure that everyone has access to the programs and services they need to thrive.”
Stephen Dorsey is the marketing and development lead at Haven Toronto, a drop-in centre for men over the age of 50 who are homeless or marginally housed, located at Jarvis and Shuter streets.
Dorsey highlighted the importance that fundraising campaigns have on organizations such as Haven Toronto.
“Organizations like Haven Toronto depend on individual, corporate, foundation, [donations and volunteers],” said Dorsey. “In the wintertime, we’re looking for warm clothes like gloves and jackets. Different organizations do drives around that for us…you can only imagine the impact that it has for the men [who spend much of their day outside].”
As part of TMU’s giving campaign, a group of TMU staff members partook in the United Way ClimbUP, a fundraising event that saw participants climb the stairs of the CN Tower in order to raise funds for United Way.
Aisling MacKnight, Lindsey Craig and Kate Raven—who all work in TMU’s central communications department—were three of the staff members who traversed the steps of the former world’s tallest tower.
“There’s a lot more stairs than [the event organizers] tell you about,” said MacKnight. “There are a hundred or so flights they tell you about and then maybe a dozen more they don’t tell you about at the end.”
Despite the extra steps, the group feels proud of their accomplishment.
“It’s a real mental game,” said Raven. “I feel we had a strategy for getting to the top and so, I’m really proud of myself that I did it.”
The TMU Climbs to End Poverty team completed the climb in just over half an hour while raising over $3,600 for United Way Greater Toronto, according to the team’s fundraising page.
In an emailed statement sent to The Eye, United Way Greater Toronto thanked TMU for their participation in the climb.
“We’re truly thankful for Toronto Metropolitan University, their dedicated staff, students and volunteers who joined us at ClimbUP 2023, conquering the CN Tower and contributing to an event that raised over $1.5M for the community,” the statement said.
MacKnight explained that there is still time for students to get involved with the giving campaign with the fundraiser continuing until Nov. 28. TMU community members can find out how to donate to the cause through the TMU website.
However, due to increases in the cost of living, many students are unable to make financial donations to organizations like United Way Greater Toronto.
Dorsey provided options for students who want to help fight poverty and homelessness through non-financial means.
“[Volunteers are] invaluable because we are a nonprofit that raises money,” said Dorsey. “Any dollar we don’t have to spend on staffing is money that can be directed toward the client.”
Above all else, Dorsey wants students to understand the reality of homelessness because he believes they will help to solve the problems surrounding homelessness.
“I think it’s important for young people to know that other people are having a hard time,” said Dorsey. “I think the answers for the future will be in the hands of young people who can get engaged to try to resolve the problems around homelessness.”