United Way work ‘will forever change’ sponsored employee

Jodi Mabee is Western's sponsored employee for the 2020 United Way Elgin Middlesex campaign.

Do more, give more, give back.

That has become a personal mantra for Jodi Mabee, Western’s sponsored employee to support the annual United Way Elgin Middlesex fundraising campaign.

Mabee is ordinarily sales and event manager at Windermere Manor, the boutique hotel and event centre owned by Western that has been put to a new use, lodging front-line health workers, since COVID-19 began.

This year, Mabee was motivated to lead Western’s community in helping people living in poverty or at risk.

“It does take something like this to realize maybe you have a bigger purpose in life, and that’s to give back,” she said. “It’s pretty inspiring to want to do more and give more.”

The campaign at Western launched Oct. 8 and runs until the end of the year. It aims, in part, to raise one dollar more than last year’s $624,557 to help United Way Elgin Middlesex support more than 90 programs at 50 community agencies.

Every year, Western sponsors and pays a staff member to be part of the United Way team for four months; the program offers professional development to the employee, an investment in community-building for the employer, and vital organizational support to the United Way.United Way Elgin Middlesex logo

Mabee said part of her orientation to the role was an eye-opening walking tour through United Way-supported agencies that offer help and hope. “It’s pretty humbling because it helps you not take for granted what you do have, and it showed the ways we can help people who might be struggling.”

This year, the United Way’s goal is to mobilize the community to fight poverty and mental health issues that have only deepened since the start of the COVID-19 crisis.

At the South London Neighbourhood Resource Centre, for example, 1,000 more people are using an emergency food cupboard and other basic-needs supports each month – a tenfold increase – since the start of the pandemic.

At the same time, the Canadian Mental Health Association’s support line has seen a 43 per cent  increase in calls, many from seniors craving human connection even if only by phone.

The United Way expects London’s children, 20 per cent of whom already live in poverty, to be disproportionately affected by fallout from the pandemic.

Mabee noted the community in London and the surrounding area needs time, treasures and talent – and that includes volunteering with agencies as well as donating money.

Mabee said she is inspired by all the Western departmental and faculty champions – including campaign co-chairs Stephanie Hayne Beatty, director of careers and experience in student experience and Betty Anne Younker, dean of the Don Wright Faculty of Music – who are giving their time to generate understanding and momentum for the campaign.

They are also creatively organizing events, many of which are now virtual. These events include the annual Scotiabank StairClimb on Nov. 5. Instead of the usual trek up One London Place, individual and team registrants can choose how they will ‘step up’ for their community.

For Mabee, the impact of being a sponsored employee will last long after this campaign is done.

“It wasn’t until I started to dive into it that I realized the impact of poverty in London and the ways the United Way helps,” she said. “I think it will forever change me.”

Western students, faculty, staff and alumni can donate here through payroll deduction or by cheque or e-pledge.