Diversity, equity and inclusion have taken centre stage in Perth-Huron over the past few months. United Way recognizes that a key part of building a stronger community is ensuring every person feels welcome and supported. One way United Way will help achieve this is by working to raise funds for the Stratford Pride Community Centre as part of the 2022/23 annual campaign.
“Diversity, equity and inclusion are important to the overall well-being of our community,” said Ryan Erb, United Way’s executive director. “United Way is committed to supporting our friends, neighbours, and family members in the local LGBTQ+ community and the Stratford Pride Community Centre plays an important role in those efforts. We were proud to help fund the launch of the centre last year. Currently, we are at 75 per cent of our goal and, with continued support from the community, we hope to achieve our fundraising total and provide core operational support funds for this important initiative.”
“The United Way’s support is crucial to our goal of providing social and health supports and services for the LGBTQ+ population where none existed before,” added SPCC president Bruce Duncan Skeaff.
The Stratford Pride Community Centre is a safe space for the Perth-Huron LGBTQ+ community to share social, educational and health-related issues. The centre also offers resources for local businesses who want to broaden connections with LGBTQ+ customers and employees.
Locally, a lack of programs and services for the LGBTQ+ population result in increased social isolation and poor mental and physical well-being. A look at provincial numbers from CMHA Ontario and Rainbow Health Ontario show the types of challenges the community faces. Rates for mental health challenges among LGBTQ+ individuals are higher than the general population, including depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive and phobic disorders, suicidality, self-harm and substance use. LGBTQ+ people also face double the risk of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and LGBTQ+ youth are 14 times more likely to be at risk of suicide and substance use than their heterosexual peers.
While not part of fundraising for United Way’s annual campaign, the organization encourages people to attend Winter Pride festivities in support of the SPCC, including the Rainbow Gala Dinner and Cabaret on Saturday, February 11, featuring performer Sharron Matthews and surprise guests. The event takes place at Lazaridis Hall at the Tom Patterson Theatre. Doors open at 5 p.m. and the event starts at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $150 each. Purchasing a ticket also gives attendees access to the Snow Ball at Copperlight Banquet Hall later Saturday evening. For more information and tickets, visit stratfordpride.com.
To support United Way’s annual campaign, including an important investment in the SPCC, please call 519-271-7730 or 1-877-818-8867, mail to 32 Erie Street, Stratford, ON N5A 2M4 or DONATE ONLINE.