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2022 Wrap Up


Monday, January 9, 2023

2022 was a year of celebration and community. As we slowly exited the pandemic in the first half of the year, YNCU hit the ground running with community involvement and 75th anniversary celebrations towards the end of the year.

Despite the uncertainties and quirks that 2022, at first, presented to us all, we are so proud of what our staff and members were able to accomplish before the year ended. As we embark on a new year and everything it has to offer, we want to take a look back and reflect on all our achievements and shout out our staff and members for bringing our communities back to life in 2022.

Celebrating 75 years

In honour of our 75th anniversary, each staff member was given $75 to complete a random act of kindness in their community. These random acts included surprise gas and grocery gift cards, students receiving backpacks and school supplies, and assistance with vet bills.

Our branches also hosted celebrations for their members to commemorate this milestone. Our branch staff went above and beyond, offering free snacks, treats and giveaways, with some branches going a step further. The Mitchell branch served up hotdogs, fresh off the grill. Our Guelph branch had some special guests, Chase from Paw Patrol and Princess Belle, as well as an ice cream truck on-site. Safe to say our members had a blast celebrating 75 years with us.

In addition to our celebrations and random acts of kindness, YNCU became a Certified Living Wage Employer. Together with our members, employees and community partners, YNCU is helping to make life better in the places Ontarians live, work, learn and play!

Good Neighbours doing good work

This year, much of our staff got involved with our Good Neighbours initiatives. Staff members from different branches lent a helping hand at events we sponsored such as the Summer Moon Festival in Sault Ste. Marie, Neighbours Night and Hike for Heart in Kitchener and local builds with Habitat for Humanity Waterloo Region. We also championed our own initiatives such as the Waterloo and Brantford food sorts, the street clean up in Paris, and the food collection for the Guelph Food Bank.

YNCU pours back into our community

Throughout the year, YNCU made donations to different organizations who, in some way, tackle everyday issues for the betterment of our communities. Organizations such as MennoHomes Out-Spok’n, Kidsability Foundation, Community Support Connections and the Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region.

Our YNCU Teach program, which took place in the spring of 2022, selected two nominated schools to receive $5,000 and one nominated teacher to receive $1,000 through our YNCU Teach Grant. These grants provided an opportunity for each recipient to make positive improvements to their schools and recognized the significant contributions our educators make on a daily basis.

In 2022, YNCU partnered with the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) to donate $10,000 each to three local CMHA chapters; CMHA Brant Haldimand Norfolk, CMHA Waterloo Wellington, and CMHA Sault Ste. Marie/Algoma. YNCU and the Canadian Mental Health Association provided staff with the Power of Mindfulness and Gratitude session which focused on how practicing mindfulness and gratitude can transform the brain and help us feel grounded and less reactive. Working towards accepting all of life's challenges, we can find greater joy and peace.

YNCU hit the ice!

During the last few months of the year, YNCU hosted free ice-skating lessons to international students in Sault Ste. Marie. Our aim was to provide an opportunity to learn one of Canada’s favourite pastimes in a safe space with skilled instructors from YNCU volunteers, Pee Wee instructors, and even the Mayor of Sault Ste. Marie, Matt Shoemaker. Our sessions were held at the YNCU Soo Pee Wee Arena once a week, over the course of six weeks.

Our NEW Shop Your Neighbourhood was a success

YNCU’s Shop Your Neighbourhood program is centered around being a helping hand and avenue for new opportunities for small businesses in our service areas. This year we introduced our SHOP SMALL. SHIP FREE. campaign, where we selected three small businesses to cover shipping costs for one month during September, October, and November. This campaign provided additional support and exposure through free digital advertising and a feature on the Shop Your Neighbourhood page of our website.

In September, we focussed on Ontario Wild - a manufacturer and distributor of locally sourced, all-natural dog and pet goods based out of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. As an additional feature of the campaign, YNCU gave away a gift basket valued at $400 of Ontario Wild products to a random YNCU and Ontario Wild Instagram follower.

Our feature business for October was Jenka Clothing Co., a woman-lead clothing brand specializing in the design and sale of luxurious fitness and lounge wear, as well as a selection of high quality activewear, all at an affordable price. At the end of the month, YNCU gave away a $400 gift card to one lucky winner.

The third and final business of the SHOP SMALL. SHIP FREE. campaign was Little Leaf All Natural body products. Specializing in all natural and clean products, such as lotions and body scrubs, free of toxic chemicals, they are based in Mitchell Ontario and founded by a young lady originally from the Philippines. Our final giveaway was well participated in and featured a gift card and a gift basket all valued at $400.

During each month of the campaign, our featured small business reported improvements in their online sales, website traffic, and social media presence. Ontario Wild saw a 67% increase in website sessions. Jenka Clothing Co. gained 50 new Instagram followers, as well as 176 traffic referrals from the YNCU website, by far the most traffic referrals they have received from a third party website. Little Leaf All Natural had a 264% increase in sales, going from 1 online order in October to 29 orders in November.

The Shop Your Neighbourhood SHOP SMALL. SHIP FREE. campaign provided an amazing opportunity for these small businesses to expand their customer base without the stress of rising shipping costs.

2022 was surely a festive year for YNCU staff and members!

As we all embark on a new year, 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, attended one of our 75th branch events, or simply shared a like or comment on one of our social posts.

From the entire YNCU team, we wish you a bright and prosperous new year!

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.