Philanthropist, Paula Carey Shares Why United Way Matters

Meet Paula Carey, environmental scientist, businessperson, yoga teacher, fundraiser and now United Way philanthropist.

Paula Carey knows no bounds when it comes to engaging others in the community to support programs working to make our community a more caring place to live. Ready to Rent BC, Citizens Counselling Center, Homeless Prevention Fund,both of Camosun College’s Leading Youth to New Careers and Single Parents Bursary Fund – all have benefitted from Paula’s and her yoga community’s generosity. And now she has turned her focus to United Way – not only as a donor but a volunteer on their Major Gifts Cabinet.

“At first I was not aware of the added value that United Way provides in the community. Now I understand how they help steward and connect programs and organizations. They know where the gaps in our social safety net exist and aim to fill them,” says Paula. “I was so impressed that I have stepped up to serve on their Major Gifts Cabinet to encourage others to be kind and giving. Now I have them on my team and I am on their team.” This year Paula’s proud to say her yoga group is donating $13,600 to United Way.

United Way’s CEO Patricia Jelinski shares: “Paula has a real gift – she teaches people the power of philanthropy and leads by example.”

Perhaps that’s because she understands poverty having grown up poor in Toronto. For her parents, generosity was not possible but for Paula, education was the door to new possibilities. A teacher arranged for her to take a course at the Ontario Science Centre which, she says, changed her life. By 17, she had a part-time job there and met her husband of 34 years, Nicholas, on her first day of work.

Having taught yoga for 15 years has helped, too. Paula talks with her yoga community on ways they can help bridge the gaps within our net of social services. She calls this “yoga off the mat” and donates all proceeds from the eight yoga classes she teaches every week to causes that support those most vulnerable in Greater Victoria. Her students also generously support the areas of need they identify each year.

“My husband and I directly support a few vulnerable people in our own family and we know others are not so lucky. It is our collective role to take care of people who need our help locally. I get to feel good about this giving – a wonderful release of positive energy. I really trust the United Way to make our donation count and spend this money well.”

Listen to CBC interview Paula and members of her Yoga class about their community support: