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Friday, December 17, 2021

2021 has been a year of ups and downs, challenges and wins, as well as once-in-a-lifetime experiences that we will never forget.

Despite the uncertainties and quirks that 2021 presented to us all, we are still so proud of what our staff and Members were able to accomplish. As we look forward to 2022 and everything that the new year has to offer, we want to take a look back on this past year, reflect on all the joys and shout out our staff and Members for what they were able to do in 2021.

Without further adieu, here is our 2021 wrap-up:

1. We worked together to give back

As always, giving back to our community is a key value across all branches and staff members. Including our Good Neighbours Employee Volunteer Program, our staff voluntarily donating $2 from every pay cheque towards a charity of the staff’s choice, and ongoing branch charity initiatives, we’re always looking for ways to invest in and support our local communities.

2021 was no exception. This year, we worked closely with Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region, donating close to $10,000 towards this incredible organization through a variety of initiatives.

Hosting our first Instagram giveaway in November, we raised $509 thanks to our incredible followers. We were able to add this to the additional $9,500 raised by our staff.

We can’t thank all of our staff, Members and branches enough for working hard and connecting with the community to make a positive impact. Here’s to continuing our hard work in 2022!

2. Our staff reconnected with their passions

Ongoing COVID-19 lockdowns in 2021 meant we all had more time than usual to pick up a new hobby, or refine and strengthen an old one.

For some of our staff members, including Marketing Director Kirstin Dias and Multimedia Designer Melody Moffatt, this past year was a time to get in touch with their creativity and release projects that have always been on their bucket lists.

For Melody, 2021 was the perfect time to focus on her music and release her first album, In Colour, which channeled her love for nature, classical music and song writing. Working from home, Melody used the extra time she had to reconnect with her love for playing the piano and took the leap to put her creative works out there for all to enjoy.

Also capitalizing on the extra at-home time during the lockdowns, Kirstin wrote and published her first children’s book — C is for Camp — which focuses on playing and exploring in Northern Ontario. Donating portions of the proceeds of her sales to First Book Canada, C is for Camp is available on her own website and at 30 retailers across Ontario.

3. Our staff helped the first recipient of the Sault Ste. Marie affordable home ownership program

As we all know, housing costs across Ontario have reached astronomical levels, making it difficult for more and more individuals to save for a downpayment and achieve home ownership.

For Dawn and Jason LeBrun of Sault Ste. Marie, their dream of owning a home came true, thanks to the incredible support of the affordable home ownership program, in partnership with the Sault's social services administration board, Sault College and the provincial government.

Working closely with Manuela Febbraro, Financial Services Representative at YNCU, they became the first recipients of a mortgage through this program and moved into their home in August of 2021. Now paying less per month for their mortgage than they did in rent, Dawn and Jason are grateful to have a quiet, welcoming space to truly call their own.

4. Shop Your Neighbourhood accomplished some amazing things

YNCU’s Shop Your Neighbourhood began as an online platform aimed at helping shoppers connect and support their local small businesses throughout COVID-19. Over the past year, the platform has continued to evolve and grow, offering new ways for everyone to shop small and keep our favourite local vendors in business.

This year, Shop Your Neighbourhood launched a Summer Box, offering a variety of products crafted, produced or made available through Canadian businesses. Making it even easier for shoppers to discover independent stores, boxes were shipped across Ontario and offered for only $100.

Shop Your Neighbourhood was also recognized this year through a variety of awards, including the 2021 CCUA Best of Marketing Award, the 2021 CCUA Innovation Award, and the 2021 OCUF Outstanding Corporate Achievement Award.

This holiday season, Shop Your Neighbourhood also offered five days of free shipping to five featured small businesses. As rising shipping costs continue to become a pain point for small independent shops, this campaign encouraged everyone to shop local, while alleviating consumers and businesses of the additional shipping costs. We want to thank our participating businesses (Shop Emmylou, Wideman Wicks Co., Whiskeyjack Boutique, Wild Wonder Co., and Bathtub Bakery), as well as everyone who made a purchase.

Back for its third year, Big Lake Cabin’s Dinner Is For Everyone encourages the local community of Sault Ste. Marie to sponsor a turkey dinner for $25 or nominate a recipient, ensuring everyone can enjoy a warm meal this holiday season. For every two meals purchased, Big Lake Cabin donated a third. We are happy to announce that together, 375 meals were sold this year. Selling 141 of those meals through Shop Your Neighbourhood, we can’t thank our community enough for your support in this incredible initiative.

We want to thank our incredible staff members for their hard work and dedication to Shop Your Neighbourhood, as well the local businesses and shoppers across the province who actively use and support the platform. It would not be what it is today without you!

If you know of a business or community partner that would benefit from our free e-commerce platform, reach out to and fill us in. We are always looking for more ways to use our platform to help small businesses and our community.

5. We welcomed Lara Stilin as Chief Financial Officer

Appointed as the new Chief Financial Officer on January 18, 2021, Lara Stilin became the youngest individual to hold the position of CFO in YNCU’s history. A chartered accountant and financial expert with a proven track record of success, Lara is the perfect example of the young, innovative talent present within our organization.

A strong role model for women, not only within YNCU, but for all women in the financial industry, we are so pleased to have such a dynamic, empowering leader on our team!

What a year 2021 was for YNCU staff and Members!

As this year comes to a close, we want to thank each and every member of our community who stopped by a branch, supported a local business through Shop Your Neighbourhood, donated to our branch charitable initiatives, or simply shared a like or comment on one of our social posts.

From all of us at YNCU, we wish you and yours a happy holiday season, as well as a safe, healthy and prosperous 2022!

Interested in seeing what we get up to next year and want to get involved? Give us a follow on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn.