Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Helping others as a way of life

United Way volunteer acts as agency liaison

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Sam McLaughlin's parents have much to be proud of. From an early age, they instilled in their children a sense of community responsibility that continues to this day through McLaughlin's volunteer work at United Way of Winnipeg. "Growing up, we were quite fortunate," says McLaughlin. "For my parents, it was important that we were involved in charitable work... helping others who may be less fortunate or facing tough circumstances."

McLaughlin was first introduced to United Way of Winnipeg -- a non-profit organization that raises funds to support an essential network of organizations throughout the community -- when he was volunteering at an after-school program, West Broadway Youth Outreach. The program is funded by United Way of Winnipeg, which piqued McLaughlin's interest.

Now McLaughlin, an associate portfolio manager who works with his father and brother on a capital-management team at RBC, uses his financial savvy in his volunteer work at United Way. He is an association liaison volunteer for the organization, which means he meets with the boards of different organizations in the community, pores over financials and programming, and sees where there are places United Way could help. McLaughlin says out of the 100 organizations United Way supports, he has regular contact with between five to 10 every year.

"I come from an investment background, and I've always viewed my United Way contributions as a sort of Canadian balanced fund in a portfolio," explains McLaughlin. He says United Way invests in myriad different organizations whose work many Manitobans may not even be aware of, such as small after-school programs. McLaughlin says a lot of these organizations don't have the ability to put on huge gala dinners or charity auctions, but do amazing work. That's where support from United Way comes in.

"They do such solid investment in the community," McLaughlin says.

McLaughlin also sits on United Way's community-investment committee, and from his earlier days volunteering at West Broadway Youth Outreach, continues his passion for youth education by co-chairing the organization's education impact council.

"Volunteers are actively involved in every aspect of United Way's work," says Susan Lewis, president and CEO of United Way of Winnipeg. "We wouldn't be able to continuously improve or achieve the positive impact we celebrate each year if not for the leadership and commitment of people from every corner and every sector of this city who choose to volunteer with United Way."

McLaughlin says there are around 5,000 people who directly or indirectly volunteer for United Way, and the amount of hours donated is staggering.

He believes everyone should have the same advantages he has had in life, and he believes it is the responsibility of all of us to make sure that happens.

"Anybody who has time to give should be giving time, and anybody who has money to give, should be giving money."

McLaughlin and his wife, Aveeve, a youth counsellor at the Women's Health Clinic, also make contributions to the arts. His wife's concerns lie in food-security issues, so they also try to contribute to food banks.

McLaughlin says giving back can be selfish in a way.

"I want to live in a city that is vibrant and growing and that people are always moving forward," he says. "I don't think that we should ignore our responsibility to be part of our city and make a change to our city."

For more information about how to get involved and support United Way of Winnipeg visit http://unitedwaywinnipeg.ca/ .

 

If you know a special volunteer who strives to make his or her community a better place to live, please contact Carolyn Shimmin at carolynshimmin@gmail.com .

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 29, 2012 B2

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