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Community Investments

COVID-19 Funding

The COVID-19 Pandemic has hit our Sarnia-Lambton community hard. Read what the United Way of Sarnia-Lambton has done to assist community agencies in providing services to those in our community most in need.

Emergency Community Support Fund Round 2, Fall of 2020

Rounds 1 and 2 represents funds from the Emergency Compassion Support Fund (ECSF) funded by the Government of Canada, the ECSF, rounds 1 and 2 provided financial support to charities and other qualified donees who had to adapt their frontline services to support vulnerable Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thank you to the Government of Canada, and local donors.

Big Brothers Big Sisters - $3,000

Funds will be used to deliver monthly Activity and Food Boxes to families with at risk youth.

County of Lambton Student Nutrition - $14,000

Funds will be used to offer healthy food choices to children and youth attending publicly funded schools in Lambton County.

Habitat for Humanity - $7,500

Funds will be used to provide critical home maintenance to those in need.

John Howard Society - $15,000

Funds will be used to provide technology devices to allow staff to bring programs into the community and reduce touch points.

Lambton Elderly Outreach (2 Grants) - $6,650

$2,500 will be used to provide winter necessities such as hats, gloves, socks to isolated seniors in need who have no family or friends near.

$4,150 will be used for the purchase of properly fitted N95 masks for In Home support workers.

Mid Valley Seniors Apartments - $6,896

Funds will be used to assist with purchase of cleaning supplies and labour to maintain COVID cleaning standards as defined by Lambton Public Health.

Habitat for Humanity - $30,000

New Beginnings, ABI & Stroke Recovery - $15,000

Funds will be used to help vulnerable populations such as seniors, low income individuals, stroke & acquired brain injury survivors, isolated individuals and those requiring mental health supports. Purchases may include nutritional food, exercise equipment to loan to those with disabilities, deliver food and other necessities to members in need, purchase technological items for client use.

North Lambton Community Health Centre - $5,000

Funds will be used to support individuals who are homeless or underhoused by providing winter care packages with some essentials. (wool socks, thermal mug, masks, etc.)

River City Vineyard - $10,200

Funds will be used to upgrade laundry facilities with 3 sets of commercial washers and dryers.

VON - $4,150

Funds will be used to provide non-medical face masks to all clients, not required to wear medical grade masks, as a disease transmission precaution and provide certified Mask Fit Tester and Kit for clients with confirmed or potential COVID so that in home nurses decrease the potential to spread viruses from home to home.

Women’s Interval Home - $5,000

Funds will be used to purchase devices and provide virtual programming to clients.

YMCA - $15,000

Funds will be used to provide food and wellness supplies weekly to low-income youth and families living in the YMCA Resource House neighbourhoods.

Emergency Community Support Fund Round 1, Spring and Summer, 2020

River City Vineyard (2 Grants) - $92,000

$67,000 – Funds will be used to purchase building materials and employ residents to complete renovations to onsite washroom facilities allowing for separate entrances from each wing. Work will include renovating shower rooms to single stalls ensuring proper safe distancing as well as repurposing a third washroom for transgender and accessibility. This project will provide a source of income to residents who have previously worked in the trades and others to learn new skills.

$25,000 – Funds will be used to build ten women’s pods around individual shelter beds. Currently each guest has their own bed, but it does not allow for privacy or social distancing. Current and former Shelter residents will provide the skilled labour. Each pod will include a bed, desk, and a locked storage area. River City Vineyard does not currently have women’s facilities.

YMCA of Southwestern Ontario, YMCA Learning & Career Centre Sarnia - $37,307

Funds will be used to assist newcomer clients who are adult Permanent Residents with learning and speaking English with the use of technology. Learning English is an important step in the settlement process because it helps newcomers obtain better jobs, get involved in their communities, participate in events, and build self confidence.

Rapids Family Health Team - $3,000

Funds will be used to install plexiglass screens in counselling areas allowing for the reinitiating of in-person counselling. Many clients have hearing loss and are not able to hear or read lips through a mask.

Lambton Elderly Outreach (3 Grants) - $17,200

$3,500 will be directed to the purchase of canvas bags for home care employees to transport PPE and infection control supplies.

$1,700 will be used for the purchase of 250 insulated grocery bags to deliver meals to recently acquired clients and eliminating the need to share bags among clients.

$12,000 will be used to install plexiglass barriers, construct a wall and a secure door in LEO’s reception area.

YMCA of Southwestern Ontario, YMCA Learning & Career Centre Sarnia (2 Grants) - $46,426

$18,948 will be used to build and distribute activity kits to families of children with autism. The YMCA Autism Summer Camp was cancelled due to COVID-19. YMCA staff will build and distribute kits on a bi-weekly basis to those in need. The kits will include crafts, activities, and sensory items.

$27,478 will be used to provide engaging summer camp activity kids to low-income children and youth in their YMCA Resource House program. The kits will focus on healthy learning and play that will promote creativity and healthy lifestyle. These kits will also be engaging for all ages without parental supervision.

Community Concerns for the Medically Fragile, CCMF Sarnia - $3,000

Funds will be used for massage therapy for residents at Standing Oaks, a specialized group home. Most residents are in wheelchairs for lengthy periods of time which can result in limbs that are stiff and hard to move. The massage therapy with a registered RMT will assist with circulation and aide in each resident. The RMT will also monitor each resident’s mobility.

Family Counselling Centre - $38,300

Funds will be used to begin a rigorous volunteer recruitment campaign for the Distress Line and Tel-Check service. Due to the pandemic and requirement for physical distancing, the training programs will need to adapt to a virtual training delivery platform. Funds will also be used to purchase equipment for volunteers. This will allow volunteers to safely help those who may be in distress or crisis.

Habitat for Humanity - $5,000

Funds will be used through a partnership with Rotary Club for Habitat for Humanity. Funds will go directly to Habitat to be used for affordable and accessible housing builds.

Kidney Foundation of Canada, Sarnia-Lambton Chapter - $5,000

Funds will be used to provide last resort financial assistance, funds for transportation to and from dialysis treatment and doctors appointments, medication, food, blood pressure cuffs etc.

Parkinson Society Southwestern Ontario - $15,000

Funds will be used to provide direct client support in Sarnia-Lambton. Direct support includes virtual and community outreach, virtual therapy, education webinars and online support groups for those living with Parkinson’s Disease.

Le centre communautaire francophone de Sarnia - $9,000

The centre will prepare and deliver home-made nutritional hot meals for seniors and vulnerable people including low/no income families during COVID-19. Services are offered to francophone seniors, but not limited to Francophones. Requests will be made through an application process. The program will offer a nutritious meal followed up with a telephone wellness check. The funding will allow 150 meals to be served weekly in Sarnia, Bright’s Grove and Corunna areas.

Sexual Assault Survivors Centre - $5,000

There is a concern within this vulnerable sector as clients are faced with isolation and financial hardships. The ECSF grant will assist approximately 50-60 clients in urban and rural Lambton with safe transportation to appointments, accessing food banks and groceries, cleaning supplies, and gift cards as needed.

VON - $11,400

Funds will be used to provide therapeutic tools and communications devices for volunteers and clients in the Volunteer Visiting program and for clients and Caregivers in the Adult Day Program. Funds will also assist the SMART instructors with their exercise and fall prevention classes. These tools will allow for continued support and programming during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Salvation Army - $20,000

Funds will be used to cover the cost of a Mobile Community Response Unit. This unit will be able to be used in our current crisis (COVID-19) and any on going situations. The mobile unit will allow the Salvation Army to provide hot and cold food to anyone in need. At this time, they are focusing on the homeless and hard to house during the pandemic. They will be equipped to serve 100 individuals on each trip and at this time plan to go out at least weekly or more if needed. The unit is completely mobile so can serve both urban and rural communities as needed.

United Way of Sarnia-Lambton Issues Seniors Funding Government of Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors Program Grants, Spring 2020

United Way of Sarnia-Lambton has issued grants to six agencies in Lambton County on behalf of United Way Centraide Canada and funded by the Government of Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors Program. These six non-profit community service organizations met all requirements for funding which included meeting the immediate and urgent needs of seniors in Sarnia and throughout Lambton County; Focus upon vulnerable seniors (55+) impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic including but not limited to: low income individuals; seniors who are members of a minority group; and/or those living in rural settings; as well as caregivers.

Family Counselling Centre – $16,000

Funds will be used to hire one full time position to support with increased scheduling and Tel-Check calls as well as promotional materials for isolated seniors.

Lambton Mental Wellness Centre – $1,261

Funds will be used to purchase iPads to lend to their senior members (55+) to connect them with their virtual support groups. The iPads will allow the Wellness Centre to provide support to 3 urban and 1 rural member during the pandemic social isolation duration.

North Lambton Community Health Centre – $15,000

Funds will be used to provide the essential supports to their most vulnerable clients including isolated (rural) seniors and seniors living with mental health and addictions. It will address access to immediate basic needs such as food, hygiene products and increase need for cleaning products.

St. Vincent de Paul Food Bank & Help Centre – $9,886

Funds will be used to assist with rent and utilities, cleaning supplies and transportation for seniors travelling to appointments outside the city of Sarnia.

United Way of Sarnia-Lambton Compassion Fund, Spring 2020

Lambton Elderly Outreach - $5,000

LEO provides transportation services to seniors and adults with disabilities. Services include a non-urgent stretcher van, Meals on Wheels delivery, Personal Support Services and Crisis Intervention services (for more serious issues).

Other area providers have decreased their services. Funds will assist LEO to address the increased need and to continue to provide this vital service during this crisis.

St. Clair Child and Youth - $5,000

St. Clair and Youth provides a crisis program for youth who have been referred by Bluewater Health for priority treatment. During COVID-19, this program has moved from in person sessions to telephone. Funds will allow the program to move to a virtual program and to upgrade computer security. This will allow for a greater opportunity for a clinical connection and client engagement.

Rebound and The Hub (2 Programs) - $5,000

Program #1 – The HUB will use funds to provide help and supports for youth who may be facing homelessness. The HUB has seen an increase in the past two weeks, many who are accessing The Hub for the first time.

Program #2 – Funds will be used to cover the costs of moving to an online platform for the Rebound spring programming that supports youth ages 8 to 17. The program covers topics such as substance use prevention, developing resistance and coping skills, and social skills development.

Women’s Interval Home of Sarnia-Lambton - $5,000

The pandemic team at the Women’s Interval Home is creating more space to ensure social and physical distancing for their clients. Funds will be used to adapt the residence so that women and their children can remain within the shelter while observing safety protocols.

Family Counselling Centre - $5,000

The FCC Distress Line/Tel-Check line has seen an increased number of referrals during the pandemic. Funds will enable FCC to hire additional staff to handle the additional distress line call volume and new clients on the Tel-Check program.

Boys and Girls Club - $5,000

The club is closed for programming but remotely operates its backpack program to assist with personal care and food items on a requested basis. Funds will allow the program to expand to include rent, unpaid bills, and medical expenses. A means test is included in the application process.

Salvation Army - $5,000

There has been an influx of clients accessing the Salvation Army Food Bank. They are currently assisting on average 15-25 households per day. Funds will be used to purchase food and hygiene products.

CNIB - $4,000

Many individuals rely on a sighted person for grocery shopping and are facing ridicule for needing physical support and for the challenge of maintaining a six-foot distance. Delivery services are overwhelmed and cannot take on new customers. Many individuals live on low incomes due to under/unemployment and cannot afford price increases or to stock up on essentials.

The volunteers provide one-on-one assistance to people with sight loss for almost any daily activity i.e. reading mail, running errands. Essentially, volunteers serve as the person’s eyes for a couple hours each week, which empowers the individual with sight loss to continue to live independently and fulfill their most basic needs. Most often, Virtual Vision Mate beneficiaries are older adults who need additional care giving. Their friends and family may be self-isolating, limited in the assistance they can provide, or simply live too far away to provide weekly or daily care giving. In Sarnia alone, there are an estimated 4,000 people living with sight loss.

St. Vincent De Paul Food Bank & Help Centre - $5,000

St. Vincent De Paul helps those going through difficult times with food and monetary assistance fore rent, utilities, medical, dental and more as funds allow. They typically help on average 7,000 people per year. During the COVID-19 pandemic this funding will help keep their food bank stocked enough to stay open and assist with food for those in need during this difficult time.

North Lambton Community Health Centre - $5,000

North Lambton Community Health Centre provides primary healthcare, health promotion and community development services to Lambton County. They offer many health and wellness programs and services with a focus on people who face challenges to access care. Their priority population includes seniors, First Nations people, mentally ill, low income, farming families, youth at risk, and families with young children. They are experiencing a high volume of need around food insecurity, cleaning supplies and transportation. Opening Doors clients (currently a United Way funded program) and seniors especially are experiencing difficulty navigating the community with mental illness and vulnerable health. This request is to provide food, personal and cleaning supplies and transportation costs for these vulnerable people.

The Inn of the Good Shepherd - $5,000

The Inn is providing takeout food hampers, meals and children’s snack packs during the COVID crisis. They are seeing numbers slightly increased and expect that to increase more due to widespread lay offs, especially after people receive their last pay cheque. With the pandemic came the cancellation or closure of schools, events, churches and businesses that are all regular contributors of food donations for the food bank and soup kitchen.

This grant will help to purchase food to replace that, which would have been raised in the community through workplaces and events.

Brain Injury Association of Sarnia-Lambton - $5,000

The Brain Injury Association of Sarnia Lambton provides support to family members and survivors of brain injury and concussion. Their programs work to mobilize clients from concerns of social isolation due to frequent risk of depression, anxiety and loneliness after an accident. Their social leisure activities, support groups, and peer mentor supports are now needed more than ever to prevent serious mental health breakdown.

They have close to 200 members locally that require the support of those trained in brain injury. Their budget covers only 5-8 hours per week. This emergency funding will allow them to stay directly in contact with their members with regular phone/video calls, offer counselling support as needed, do drop off for supplies, groceries as needed, arrange and pay for services (taxis) to get clients to medical appointments as needed.

St. Vincent de Paul Food Bank & Help Centre – $9,886

St. Clair Child & Youth remains committed to supporting the mental health needs of infants, children, youth, and families in our community. Although their doors are closed to face-to-face services they have developed and launched a new telephone counselling and consultation service to support existing clients as well as new clients seeking help from the community.

They are seeking support to help provide virtually crisis counselling to support the acute mental health needs to high-risk youth affected by COVID-19. They will provide a series of online webinars through Zoom targeting specific vulnerable populations and demographics. These workshops will focus on skill development, education, and emotional regulation. Topics will include anxiety, coping, self-regulation, resiliency, trauma, and attachment. Separate workshops will be available for parents, children, and youth. They will also host a weekly or bi-weekly live mental health podcast for Sarnia-Lambton which will have guest speakers sharing information, clarifying misconceptions, and providing direction on where to go in our community for help.

Huron House Boys Home - $5,000

Huron House Boys Home works to develop and implement programs to enable their residents (boys aged 12-18) to make positive changes in their lives. They provide therapeutic counselling, support, guidance and structure for youth in their care. In addition to their roles managing the regular programming, the staff are now having to facilitate the online learning that their residents are participating in. This means more staff working during the day and their expenses have increased, both in terms of staff salaries as well as the food and utilities from having the boys and additional staff present all the time. It has also been a challenge to get access to the needed technology for the boys to be able to run the programs they need to participate in their schooling.

North Lambton Community Health Centre - $5,000

The Harm Reduction & Hepatitis C Care Team at North Lambton Community Health Centre continues to provide modified services during COVID-19. They serve vulnerable clients who traditionally experience health and social inequities. This includes people who are homeless or under-housed, street involved youth, indigenous peoples, and people affected by substance use. They provide low-barrier access to harm reduction teaching and supplies with the goal to reduce the transmission of blood-born illnesses such as hepatitis C and HIV, as well as to reduce the risk of opioid overdose. This funding will help clients who need transportation to Sarnia for services such as Opioid Substitution Therapy and laboratory services; provide home delivery of harm reduction supplies, non-perishable food, hygiene products and other essentials, and provide phone cards to continue to conduct all appointments over the phone.

YMCAs of Southwestern Ontario - $5,000

During regular programming 80-100 youth (ages 4-12) receive two meals and healthy nutrition breaks (Mon-Fri) while participating in the YMCA Resource Houses Program. These funds will go towards supporting those program families who are in need during these unique times. This funding will assist youth and their families living on or under the poverty line and/or experiencing hunger, lack of supports and community engagement while community programs are on hold and unavailable.

River City Vineyard - $5,000

River City Vineyard normally provides a shower program, food bank, free community store, meals, drop in centre, and homeless shelter. A few of these programs have had to be put on hold until the COFID-19 restrictions are lifted. However, they still operate their food bank and homeless shelter.

Due to the pandemic, their supplies are funning low as donations are down and the need is up. This funding would also assist them in continuing to run their homeless shelter, as again donations are down but supplies still need to be purchased to operate, including hand sanitizers and additional cleaning supplies to ensure the shelter remains immaculate and the guests remain safe. They are requesting emergency.

Salvation Army - $5,000, a second grant

The Salvation Army has seen a spike in need for personal care and hygiene supplies and other cleaning needs. The Salvation Army has also found itself in need of additional Food items. These funds will be used to purchase such items for their clientele including those products primarily in need of by seniors.

Salvation Army - $5,000, a second grant

Mid Valley Seniors Apartments is a 29 unit seniors building in Petrolia that is a registered charity run by a volunteer Board of Directors. Their average age of tenants is 75. Funding will be used to purchase extra cleaner and time to sanitize; additional disinfectant/hand cleaner and gloves; and sanitation wash stations.

Alzheimer Society of Sarnia-Lambton - $5,000

The Alzheimer Society provides a range of programs and services for people living with dementia and their care partners, provides public education and promotes research into the cause and cure of Alzheimer’s disease. Programs and services for clients include system navigation, care planning, education, social and recreational activities, support and counselling, in-home respite and day programming.

Due to the closure of Adult Day Programs, social recreational programs, and reduced in-person services, people living with dementia and their care partners are now at home together 24/7. Care partners are in need of relief from providing care, and people living with dementia are in need of meaningful activities to help them pass the time. Caregiver burnout is a real threat during the best of times for our clients but now that they are not able to access their usual community supports, the threat is amplified. Alzheimers would like to develop Activity Kits which will include a variety of activities that can be done by the person living with dementia and can be used at any time during the day or night to provide caregiver relief. The Kits will be geared to the specific client, taking into account their likes and interests. They will also increase contact with their clients whose in-home respite services have been suspended. These clients will receive a regular phone call check-in with their usual respite worker.

Community Investments

Big Brothers Big Sisters Sarnia-Lambton

Current allocation: $130,000

Big Brothers Big Sisters – Matches adult volunteers to children aged 5 -18 who lack positive role models in their lives. In School Mentoring, Big Bunch, Go Girls and Game On programs are also provided with this funding.

BGC Sarnia-Lambton

Current allocation: $93,667

BGC Sarnia-Lambton, formerly known as the Boys & Girls Club – Provides a variety of drop in/after school/summer programs for children aged 5 – 18, many of whom exhibit social and/or behavioural difficulties.

Canadian Red Cross Society - Sarnia-Lambton Branch

Current allocation: $119,000

Canadian Red Cross – Transportation, Meals on Wheels, and Homeward Bound programs all strive to help seniors and the disabled remain as independent and safe as possible in their own homes.

Inn of the Good Shepherd

Current allocation: $28,000

Inn of the Good Shepherd – Income Tax Program assists low income clients by completing and e-filing their income tax returns ensuring that vital government benefits are either secured or maintained for these clients.

North Lambton Community Health Centre

Current allocation: $60,000

NLCHC – Opening Doors – The Opening Doors Program is a physical activity and healthy eating program for anyone over 18 years of age who is living with a mental illness.

Sarnia-Lambton Rebound

Current allocation: $50,000

Rebound – A variety of programs support young people aged 8-17 who are experiencing difficulties within families, school and/or the law.

Warming Shelter, Walpole Island First Nation

Current allocation: $30,000

Provides a safe place for those individuals most in need – United Way of Sarnia-Lambton funding is used to assist with the renovations enabling the Warming Centre to safely accommodate women, and to help ensure safety and services are available to the clients.

VON - County of Lambton School Nutrition Program

Current allocation: $16,650

VON – County of Lambton School Nutrition Program – School Food and Delivery program provides access to healthy food for students across Lambton County that are food insecure so they are ready to learn.

Family Counselling Centre

Current allocation: $157,782

Family Counselling Centre – Family, Couple and Individual Counselling as well as a 24/7 Distress Line, and Tel Check. 24 hour Distress Line: 519 336-3000

Habitat for Humanity

Current allocation: $15,000

Habitat for Humanity – Subsidized handyman program for those residents with limited incomes, who require home maintenance.

John Howard Society

Current allocation: $70,000

John Howard Society – Rapid Housing stabilization and intense wrap-around supports for hard-to-house individuals.

Lambton Elderly Outreach

Current allocation: $71,600

Lambton Elderly Outreach – Accessible transportation is subsidized, and Meals on Wheels.

New Beginnings, ABI & Stroke Recovery Association

Current allocation: $20,000

New Beginnings, ABI & Stroke Recovery Association – Assists members by introducing them to programs that stimulate the brain and offer fitness classes specifically geared to Stroke Survivors to help increase their strength.

Salvation Army

Current allocation: $65,500

Salvation Army – Emergency assistance with Rent/Utility, Dental needs and Prescription Medication needs for families in Lambton County.


Current allocation for all three houses:  $93,600

Youth Resource Houses – 3 houses in geared to income housing neighbourhoods provide a variety of nutritional and social programs to residents.

Autism Summer Camp

Current allocation:  $30,000

Autism Summer Camp – Camp runs as a structured school day during the summer months. Run by the Sarnia Family YMCA.

River City Vineyard

Current allocation:  $15,000

River City Vineyard – Funding used to purchase 50 hospital grade mattresses for their shelter expansion.