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Anita Bondy, Sara McNortonUnited Way volunteer canvasser Anita Bondy accepts a gift card from sponsored employee Sara McNorton following a prize draw at the November 1 kick-off event to launch the campus campaign.

Sponsored employee proud to represent United Way to University — and vice versa

Working with the United Way has been an eye-opening experience, says the University’s sponsored employee.

Sara McNorton, a lab demonstrator in the Department of Biological Sciences, has been seconded to the charity since September 13. The University continues to cover her pay while she works to raise awareness through the community about the United Way’s efforts to fight poverty in Windsor-Essex.

“Like most people, I knew the United Way was active, but until I joined its offices, I didn’t really understand how many programs it has and how many people it helps,” McNorton says.

She points to programs like On Track to Success, which supports youths from vulnerable populations, providing tutoring and other opportunities, culminating in scholarships for them to pursue post-secondary education.

“Coming from the university sector myself, I see how this is relevant to helping them find a way out of poverty,” she says. “It really hit home for me.”

Her work with United Way has involved visits to workplaces to explain how contributions fund community projects to reduce poverty, support families and strengthen neighbourhoods. McNorton has spoken at departmental meetings across the UWindsor campus since the November 1 launch of its annual fundraising campaign.

“It has been a few years since we have had a sponsored employee, so it is worthwhile to get out there and remind people of the good work being done,” she says. “I am very proud to represent the United Way and I always make sure people know that my employer has been generous in allowing me to participate in this way.”

McNorton will return to her UWindsor office in the new year.

Donor packages have been distributed to faculty and staff, who may contribute by cheque, credit card or payroll deduction. Employees whose pledges are received by November 29 will be entered into a draw for prizes which include an extra vacation day, a campus parking permit, and more.