Summit Series 3: Financial Empowerment in our City

“Everything is pretty stressful right now, and we’re all doing our best to keep things business as usual where we can.”

Guest post by Olivia McFadzen
Summit Series

As the United Way 2020 Summit Series has progressed, so has Manitoba’s response to COVID-19. Here we are on Episode 3 – and in the midst of our Code Red lockdown.

Host Natalie Bell said it best in the opening lines of the third episode of the series, “Everything is … pretty stressful right now, and we’re all doing our best to keep things business as usual where we can.”

However, the subject of the third installment touched on a topic that may be one of the most relevant to the times.

Pandemic strain is real, and whether that comes in the form of mental health or finances, it’s not always easy to talk about.

On a good year, heading into the holiday season can be daunting for anyone’s financial situation – let alone during a pandemic – and I’m sure there are many people wondering how to make everything feel “business as usual” when it’s anything but.

With that in mind, this episode really put into perspective the challenges that accompany the basic fundamentals of financial empowerment and the resources available here in our community.

Right off the bat, Natalie talked about what is often the first step to financial empowerment: a job.

For some, the prospect of applying for a job may seem simple – but the reality, especially for those who may be inexperienced or facing barriers like poverty, is that it can be quite overwhelming.

Thankfully, there are places like SEED Winnipeg, which offer support for people on their journey to financial empowerment. We heard from former student Rylee about how his experience in SEED’s money management program not only set him up for financial stability but inspired him to turn around and give back to the program by becoming a leader and teacher.

“No judgement.”

Next, we were fortunate enough to hear from Christine Seidel, whose impact story was exactly that: impactful. Christine’s story began like many others – she had it all: a job, a family, a home … until she didn’t.

After being let go from her job, things went downhill quickly and Christine soon found herself on the other side of a suicide attempt, with nothing and no-one.

With the help of a caring friend and support in the healthcare sector, she slowly began her journey of regrowth.

It was on this journey that Christine found herself being welcomed in the doors of Opportunities for Employment, a donor-supported United Way Winnipeg agency whose mission is to build connections and job networks within our community.

The most touching thing about Christine’s story was how her employment counsellor at Opportunities for Employment welcomed her with no judgment and got to know her and her history.

SEED and Opportunities for Employment are just two of the 22 local agencies offering services in life employment skills, social enterprise programs, asset building, money management, and financial inclusion!

Another such organization is Community Financial Counselling Services (CFCS). We heard from Sally Massey Wiebe on defining financial wellbeing and some tips and tricks for achieving it. Sally emphasized how important the choices we make today will have a great impact on our lives today and in the future.

Speaking of the future, there is no doubt it is bright after watching the Summit Series Some Good News segment. I urge you to tune in on YouTube to check out some of the amazing things youth in our community are doing.

Thanks for continuing to log on and show up to the Summit Series. Don’t forget to keep up with your Payworks Pay it Forward Bingo Card – and see you next time for the fourth and final episode!

Join us December 3, 2020, for the next Summit Series episode: Inclusion in our City.