FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(HALIFAX, NS) December 6, 2016 — Ninety-nine years ago, an outpouring of resiliency, generosity and compassion created as much transformative change throughout the city as the Halifax Explosion itself. Lives were lost, homes and businesses were destroyed and in a matter of minutes families were thrown into poverty. The Halifax Regional Municipality and United Way Halifax will be working together over the next year with the goal of inspiring another outpouring of compassion, another demonstration of Haligonians’ great resiliency and another turning point for this city.
“Unimaginable devastation and tragedy is where the story of the Halifax explosion begins, but that is not where it ends,” says Sara Napier, President and CEO of United Way Halifax. “Neighbours mobilized to take care of one another in the days, weeks and months that followed and Haligonians’ collective response was remarkable. It was out of those compassionate relief efforts that United Way Halifax was born.”
A Halifax Relief Committee was formed with the purpose of uniting civic leaders to provide food, medicine, housing and transportation for the injured and homeless. Initial contributions included over a million dollars of income support for families in need and inspired a number of company gifts. In 1920, President of the Halifax Board of Trade, A. H. Whitman, suggested this spirit of generosity continue through a Community Chest fund which evolved into United Way Halifax in 1925.
Even though the rebuilding efforts were successful and the city had advanced in many ways, some of the critical social issues that required an urgent response 99 years ago still remain. HRM and United Way Halifax want to change that.
Plans are already underway for commemorating next year’s centennial anniversary of the Halifax Explosion in ways that will invite individuals, families and businesses to come together through philanthropy and volunteerism once again.
“I have always believed that building a great city requires many hearts and hands working together,” says Mayor Mike Savage. “The issues of homelessness, poverty, food insecurity and isolation demands a response much like the one that was set in motion 99 years ago. I look forward to working with the United Way, my Council colleagues and residents to unite our community in compassion.”
Although details of this partnership and campaign are still underway, the city and United Way Halifax are excited to explore ways they can work together to reignite and honour Halifax’s historical demonstration of resiliency, generosity and compassion.