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Five years ago, Melrose Cornwall was a United Way donor. Today he is a donor, volunteer and United Way champion. He became re-energized in his commitment to United Way in 2010, when Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) national president Ken Lewenza spoke at an event in support of United Way at his place of work, Toromont CAT. That’s when Melrose eagerly took on the role of campaign chair.
This year, Melrose Cornwall was the recipient of the United Way Activist Award at the York Region Labour Award Ceremony. In the hustle and bustle of the ceremony, we don’t always have the opportunity to talk one-on-one with the winners. However, recently one of our Labour Relations Representatives interviewed Melrose about his role in the community and his involvement with United Way of York Region.
Melrose has been working with Toromont CAT for more than 24 years and specializes as a welder/fitter. After years of only attending the general membership meetings for his union, CAW Local 112, and listening to his union’s good work on social justice, Melrose became more involved and now sits on the executive board.
Melrose now encourages other members at his workplace to get involved too.
As early as he can remember, Melrose says that Toromont CAT has been a contributor to the United Way of York Region and has run annual workplace campaigns. Because Melrose believes in philanthropy and giving back to the community, he supports UWYR and donates to us through his payroll.
In 2010, there was a joint campaign between Toromont, CAW and United Way and Melrose took on the responsibility of being co-chair of the UW committee. Melrose says that Ken Lewenza’s presence at the UW kick-off showed how much the union supports United Way, especially since Ken, “who is an extremely busy guy, still came.”
Melrose says he enjoyed talking to fellow coworkers and committee members about donating to United Way and explaining where the money goes. He feels a sense of accomplishment in helping to run a better campaign. Melrose would encourage everyone to get involved with United Way and the community – regardless of whether or not that person is involved with a union or not. “But if you do have a union, encourage both the union and management to lead a joint campaign,” he says. “It helps both parties look beyond the issues of just the workplace and work together for the good of the greater community.” Ever a United Way friend, the company and labour partnership for the United Way campaign inspired Melrose, getting him actively involved as a volunteer throughout the employee campaign.