Sponsored employee joins United Way effort

Paul Mayne// Western News

Dayna Munro, Western’s United Way sponsored employee, said the campus community has the ability to make a immediate impact on the lives of London’s most vulnerable individuals and families.

There was one little girl not smiling, showing no life in her sad eyes. As a supply teacher, Dayna Munro’s instinct kicked in.

“I asked if she was okay and she told me she was okay – just hungry,” said Munro, Western’s 2014 United Way sponsored employee.

An undergraduate program assistant in the Faculty of Engineering, Munro found only half a granola bar, loose in the young girl’s soiled backpack.

“Two weeks later, I was at same school, and here she comes looking like a completely different girl – smiling, jumping and laughing telling me how she got to go to Merrymount (Family Support and Crisis Centre), got to eat and play there and even slept there,” Munro said. “Then, she pulled out a bag full of food.

“I left that day knowing two things – Merrymount made really good lunches and she loved it there.”

But she would soon learn more.

Merrymount is just one of more than 50 United Way of London and Middlesex-funded agencies, offering a combined 80 programs.

On a contract position with Western for the last year, Munro, a Western graduate, has been assisting the United Way since late August and will continue to do so for the next three months. She realizes the huge commitment and fundraising pressures that come with the job, but is ready to make a difference.

“I spoke with others who had done the job in the past. They had nothing but amazing things to say about it,” Munro said. “I didn’t quite realize what I was getting myself into. At first, it was intense. But I’ve really come to know all the other sponsored employees and we’ve become so close knit. We have a lot a fun, but a lot of work gets done as well. I’m having a blast.”

United Way of London and Middlesex announced its 2014 fundraising goal last month, hoping to bring in $9 million, an increase of $100,000 from the previous year. Western will announce its campaign goal at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday (Oct. 21) at The Wave.

Western’s 2013 campaign raised $785,386, the largest donation ever made to the local United Way, breaking the previous record of $746,101 set by the university’s 2012 campaign. More than100 volunteers and 1,300 students, faculty and staff donated to Western’s campaign last year.

“There’s a lot of pressure to meet our fundraising goal. There’s a lot of work ahead of us,” Munro admitted. “Western is like a well-oiled machine when it comes to this campaign. My role will be to be there for them, help and give them what they need. My mom is a grad; my brother is a grad; I’m a grad.

“When I say I work at – and for – Western, there is so much pride.”

And ‘need’ is what Munro has realized during her first month on the job, having the opportunity to visit a handful of funded agencies in London.

“I really want to increase the awareness and understanding as to how much need is out there and how much United Way does to meet those needs,” Munro said. “I’ve helped volunteer with the United Way in the past, here and there, but I had no clue just how many agencies they funded and how much of an impact these agencies have in our community.

“When I was growing up, both my parents worked and we never went without. So, you go through life seeing one side of things and can’t fathom some kids are going through what they are going through. It truly opens your eyes to see the help that is needed and that we are the ones who can provide that help.”

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JOIN THE CELEBRATION. United Way of London and Middlesex announced its 2014 fundraising goal last month, hoping to bring in $9 million, an increase of $100,000 from the previous year. Western will announce its campaign goal at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday (Oct. 21) at the Wave.