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Abdi's Story
What It Means To Give Back

Abdi knows that the opportunities he received as a child – opportunities created by donors who gave to United Way – changed the trajectory of his life. Without the community programs that kept him and his friends engaged, Abdi says, “Some of us would have been in jail or even long gone.”

Now, Abdi has a clear goal. ‘When I get older, I want to be a police officer … to give back to the community.” With that goal in mind, Abdi devotes every hour he can to volunteering. “One of my coaches, he helped me quite a lot. He told me what it means to give back to a community, and to aim for the younger kids because they’re the new generation. They’re the future. Everything that happens depends on them.”

By engaging young kids in the kinds of camps and activities that were so important to Abdi growing up, he knows that “it gets them off the streets and gives them a better opportunity in life and in the future.” When he looks at the programs that changed his life and at the volunteer opportunities he has today to build his connections, skills and contributions to his community, he recognizes exactly how important all of these initiatives are to creating a vibrant and healthy hometown. “Agencies like United Way that come together and help raise money for other agencies,” he says, “if they didn’t exist, Hamilton wouldn’t be Hamilton.”


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“I started my relationship with the agency four years ago. I was attending a program to learn about computers and someone suggested I could have lunch at the senior’s centre in the same building as the school. I was served delicious lunches and was able to participate in activities. The centre gives seniors a sense of independence and a chance to have a social life. They make them feel important.
As a newcomer, Sebastian found himself struggling in school and trying to learn English. Now, five years later, he is volunteering at the United Way-supported agency and serving as a leader to newcomers arriving today. His family emigrated from there home country when Sebastian was seven. “It was because of the state my country was in. It wasn’t the greatest in terms of safety. We were shot at one day when going to my grandma’s house, and I think that’s what led my parents to finally make the decision to immigrate.”