A reflection on sharing my local love


- Marina Haden

Credit: Marina Haden, United Way Campaign Assistant

Co-op student Marina shares her experience as UVic’s United Way Campaign Assistant

From August 2020 to March 2021, I worked as a co-op student for UVic’s United Way campaign. I decided to apply for the job in July because one of United Way’s missions—supporting mental health—appealed to me. After I graduated high school, I struggled deeply with my mental health, and because my parents were involved in my life and could afford it, I got prompt access to high quality, lifesaving care. Thinking about that time in my life is still painful, and I feel a bubble of anger when I consider all the people struggling in Victoria with their own demons, unable to access care due to systemic and financial barriers. 

Working for the campaign seemed like a logical first step in what I hope will be a lifetime of paying it forward and doing what small things I can to slowly and steadily address those barriers. I am so proud to have worked with the UVic United Way campaign, and to know that the funds we have raised will help my community in such a profound way. It has been a quietly amazing, inspiring experience.

The pandemic has changed everything, making even day-to-day functioning seem overwhelming at times. It is easy to get buried under a flood of email and forget the importance of what we are doing, what is driving us, why it matters.

The UVic community has kept me going: every frustration was met with a kind, encouraging email from a stranger, and in every moment I was overwhelmed I could find a new donor, an increase, $10 extra from someone who was paying attention to what we were doing. We had 73 new donors this year, despite all the challenges of a raging pandemic.

I have been pushed out of my comfort zone, cold-calling donors and reaching out to local businesses, and I have several times been moved to tears by the warmth and generosity with which I was greeted, even six feet apart or over Zoom. I have watched United Way employees explain, with tears in their eyes, why they do what they do. I have watched people who accessed United Way-funded programs have their lives turned around and find support in the moment they needed it most.

I want to say thank you to this community for being part of something so extraordinary with me. Right now, especially, it is easy to turn away, to sink into exhaustion and apathy, but that’s not what I’ve seen happening. There have been so many subtle kindnesses and thoughtful contributions.
Marina Haden, United Way Campaign Assistant

We raised more than $214,000, an amount that’s hard to even visualize. I can say with confidence, though: it matters. It means thousands of people are staying safe, getting help, eating a hot meal. Thank you, UVic.


In this story

Keywords: philanthropy, United Way, student life, mental health

People: Marina Haden

Publication: The Ring

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