Shedding Image as Only a Funder

Shedding Image as Only a Funder

It was the lowest point in Alex Wreford’s life.

Feeling overwhelmed by darkness and struggling with substance use, family issues and low self-confidence arising from rampant gossip at school, suicide seemed like the only escape. Fortunately, Alex survived the attempt and with the help of a counsellor he found a lifeline to help nurture him along his path of healing; Crossing Bridges.

Operated by Choices for Change: Alcohol, Drug and Gambling Counselling Centre, the Crossing Bridges drop-in programs are dedicated to offering a safe place for youth in Stratford and Listowel to talk about issues surrounding mental health and substance abuse, find shelter and free food, and resources to help with living and employment skills.

The program did more than help Alex heal. Empowered, Alex completed a high school work placement at Crossing Bridges and found inspiration for his continued growth in the youth he worked with. “Crossing Bridges opened my eyes to a new realm of life,” Alex says.

Alex’s inspiring personal journey is one of many that was encouraged and supported with the help of United Way Perth-Huron. Most people think of United Way as just a funding agency; providing money to local programs and non-profits. But that is only the tip of the iceberg.

“In fact,” United Way Perth-Huron Executive Director Ryan Erb says, “A lot of our work doesn’t involve giving money at all.”

Based on the three pillars of helping individuals move from poverty to possibility, building strong communities and helping kids be all they can be, United Way Perth-Huron works to create positive change in many forms.

As an incubator of new and growing non-profits United Way Perth-Huron has guided partners like the Local Community Food Centre along their path to becoming self-sustaining, independent charities. They also provide affordable office space and/or administrative support for non-profit organizations at the United Centre in Stratford, research and advocacy on important issues like a living wage through the Social Research and Planning Council, and listen to and collaborate with communities to introduce in-demand services, such as the Crossing Bridges program’s introduction in Listowel.

“The communities of Perth-Huron, and their priorities, are constantly evolving. United Way Perth Huron is committed to understanding these needs and mobilizing communities to act.” Executive Director Erb adds.

United Way Perth-Huron supports more than 40 organizations across Perth and Huron County. To help United Way, and continue supporting these local services, donations are gladly accepted in person at 32 Erie Street, Stratford, online at or by calling 519-271-7730 / 1-877-818-8867.

Ignite Possibilities

For more information or to set up an interview with Ryan Erb, Executive Director, please call  1-877-818-8867 or 519-271-7730 or email

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