NDWCC Campaign Director’s message

The United Way Donation Station from the recent MARLANT NDWCC kickoff event at Porteous Field.

A message from this year’s 2019 NDWCC Campaign Director, Halifax region

By Cdr Beth Vallis,
2019 NDWCC Campaign Director Halifax Region

As Campaign Director for the 2019 National Defence Workplace Charitable Campaign (NDWCC) in the Halifax region, I am responsible for connecting with Defence Team members, fostering engagement, and communicating the impact of giving during this busy campaign season. This year’s theme is Standing shoulder-to-shoulder against veterans’ homelessness. The NDWCC campaign in the Halifax region is part of the local Defence Team’s commitment to making a difference in the communities in which it serves.

In 2016, I attended a reception at a municipal housing unit where I met two women who were partners. This small event was serving coffee and dessert and both women were excited about the opportunity to have coffee because they could not afford to buy it on their own. They also told me that the television in the common room that had been donated was stolen and that there had been an infestation of bed bugs, so I should not sit on any of the furniture. After our conversation, I learned that each woman had a career but after their decision to transition, they were marginalized and no longer hired for opportunities. It was hard to get a job and earn a basic income. Together, they were living on one disability income. I think about these two women often.

Every day, I see poverty and homelessness. En route to my workplace, there are people at the intersection with cardboard signs asking for money and help. When I stop for gas, there is someone usually in the shop who doesn’t have enough money or is counting change to buy coffee or confectionaries. I have at times witnessed theft. The shopkeeper knows who they are; it has become common. At the drive-thru, there is a group sitting on the curb drinking coffee with all of their belongings at their feet. When I pull into my workplace, the driveway is sometimes blocked by taxis or drivers waiting for people who are receiving treatment at the clinic that administers methadone.  As I walk from my car to the office, I am usually asked for money and there is someone sleeping on the bench at the bus stop. On the way home at night, there are vulnerable people standing on the sidewalk. It could be freezing out and they are sometimes barely dressed.

I see this each day. This is my normal commute. Sadly, there should be nothing normal about it.

Last summer, the Dartmouth Shelter Society was established and Frank MacKay House opened in Dartmouth. The visionary and leader behind this initiative is a man named Warren Wesson. And while many people are stepping up to support the Society and shelter, Warren led the charge to do something about homelessness and took action. In this short time, Warren has provided a safe place for 15 people to have supper every night, a bed to sleep in and breakfast in the morning. The community support has been tremendous and His Honour, the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia, recently visited Frank MacKay House. Despite the attention, Warren is forced to turn people away on a regular basis due to capacity constraints.

I am inspired by Warren’s actions and perseverance – the Power of One. His efforts are an example of what can be achieved when someone takes initiative and brings about positive social change. Each day, 15 more people are fed and have a roof over their head in the Halifax Regional Municipality.

So, when I was invited to help with the NDWCC here in Halifax, I agreed right away.  Imagine what 11,000 members of the local Defence Team can do to help those in need!