New United Way CEO ready for take-off

News Aug 28, 2009 Ancaster News

Darrel Skidmore placed the United Way of Burlington and Greater Hamilton on the launching pad.

Len Lifchus, though, is preparing for the organization’s take-off.

Mr. Lifchus, a Vancouver native, was selected from about 100 candidates after a cross-country search to take over the 12th largest United Way organization in Canada.

“This is a very exciting opportunity,” said an ebullient Mr. Lifchus. “I want to build upon what Darrel has done here, and take it to the next level.

Mr. Lifchus, 58 –he doesn’t turn 59 until Sept 1 –was the chief executive officer of the United Way of Peterborough and District since 1999. He had been the executive director of the United Way of Kelowna from 1995 and for 16 years he had worked for the Canadian Red Cross.

Mr. Lifchus, who has already found a place to stay in Stoney Creek, starts his new job Sept. 14. And when he does begin, he already faces a significant challenge in the Hamilton area where there is an 18 per cent poverty rate, and an economic recession that has taken its toll on the surrounding community.

In 2008 the United Way barely reached its $6.9 million target in early 2009, with about $4.8 million coming from Hamilton. The 2009 campaign, scheduled to be kicked off on York Boulevard on Sept. 17 expects the coming year to be just as difficult.

“The needs are higher,” acknowledged United Way Board Chair Tom Bontje.

But he’s confident as the times get tougher, organizations and people dig deeper into their pockets to assist their fellow residents.

“Just as the dollar needs are greater, the community just comes together,” he says.

“It is a challenge across the country,” said Mr. Lifchus. “The recession could make people lose their faith in the economy. For me, I want to go shopping and spend. Never is there a better time to help those people in need.”

All people have to do is give a small amount, he said. Even $1 makes a huge difference.

“The power of the nickels and dimes are incredible, said Mr. Lifchus. “We need everybody to help out.

Mr. Bontje said Mr. Skidmore, who took over the position in 2005, did an “amazing job” re-branding the organization and reaching out to establish important relationships with organizations in both communities.

But for the United Way to meet its next target, the organization wanted a person with the background who could match what the community needed with the resources available.

“Len is a very dynamic guy, a great guy,” said Mr. Bontje. “He has the experience and the commitment. We needed someone to come in and work with the agencies and connect the dots.”

Mr. Lifchus expects to hit the ground running when he takes over next month outlining a hectic schedule that includes holding open houses, possibility in October, meeting with various politicians and stakeholder groups in both communities.

Mr. Lifchus accepted a five-year contract that can be renewed by the organization.

Regardless of what happens in 2014, he doesn’t expect to retire anytime soon.

“I have no plans on retiring,” he said. “My father worked until he was 74 before retiring. If you are making a difference in the community and saving lives daily, that makes you get out of bed every morning.”

New United Way CEO ready for take-off

News Aug 28, 2009 Ancaster News

Darrel Skidmore placed the United Way of Burlington and Greater Hamilton on the launching pad.

Len Lifchus, though, is preparing for the organization’s take-off.

Mr. Lifchus, a Vancouver native, was selected from about 100 candidates after a cross-country search to take over the 12th largest United Way organization in Canada.

“This is a very exciting opportunity,” said an ebullient Mr. Lifchus. “I want to build upon what Darrel has done here, and take it to the next level.

Mr. Lifchus, 58 –he doesn’t turn 59 until Sept 1 –was the chief executive officer of the United Way of Peterborough and District since 1999. He had been the executive director of the United Way of Kelowna from 1995 and for 16 years he had worked for the Canadian Red Cross.

Mr. Lifchus, who has already found a place to stay in Stoney Creek, starts his new job Sept. 14. And when he does begin, he already faces a significant challenge in the Hamilton area where there is an 18 per cent poverty rate, and an economic recession that has taken its toll on the surrounding community.

In 2008 the United Way barely reached its $6.9 million target in early 2009, with about $4.8 million coming from Hamilton. The 2009 campaign, scheduled to be kicked off on York Boulevard on Sept. 17 expects the coming year to be just as difficult.

“The needs are higher,” acknowledged United Way Board Chair Tom Bontje.

But he’s confident as the times get tougher, organizations and people dig deeper into their pockets to assist their fellow residents.

“Just as the dollar needs are greater, the community just comes together,” he says.

“It is a challenge across the country,” said Mr. Lifchus. “The recession could make people lose their faith in the economy. For me, I want to go shopping and spend. Never is there a better time to help those people in need.”

All people have to do is give a small amount, he said. Even $1 makes a huge difference.

“The power of the nickels and dimes are incredible, said Mr. Lifchus. “We need everybody to help out.

Mr. Bontje said Mr. Skidmore, who took over the position in 2005, did an “amazing job” re-branding the organization and reaching out to establish important relationships with organizations in both communities.

But for the United Way to meet its next target, the organization wanted a person with the background who could match what the community needed with the resources available.

“Len is a very dynamic guy, a great guy,” said Mr. Bontje. “He has the experience and the commitment. We needed someone to come in and work with the agencies and connect the dots.”

Mr. Lifchus expects to hit the ground running when he takes over next month outlining a hectic schedule that includes holding open houses, possibility in October, meeting with various politicians and stakeholder groups in both communities.

Mr. Lifchus accepted a five-year contract that can be renewed by the organization.

Regardless of what happens in 2014, he doesn’t expect to retire anytime soon.

“I have no plans on retiring,” he said. “My father worked until he was 74 before retiring. If you are making a difference in the community and saving lives daily, that makes you get out of bed every morning.”

New United Way CEO ready for take-off

News Aug 28, 2009 Ancaster News

Darrel Skidmore placed the United Way of Burlington and Greater Hamilton on the launching pad.

Len Lifchus, though, is preparing for the organization’s take-off.

Mr. Lifchus, a Vancouver native, was selected from about 100 candidates after a cross-country search to take over the 12th largest United Way organization in Canada.

“This is a very exciting opportunity,” said an ebullient Mr. Lifchus. “I want to build upon what Darrel has done here, and take it to the next level.

Mr. Lifchus, 58 –he doesn’t turn 59 until Sept 1 –was the chief executive officer of the United Way of Peterborough and District since 1999. He had been the executive director of the United Way of Kelowna from 1995 and for 16 years he had worked for the Canadian Red Cross.

Mr. Lifchus, who has already found a place to stay in Stoney Creek, starts his new job Sept. 14. And when he does begin, he already faces a significant challenge in the Hamilton area where there is an 18 per cent poverty rate, and an economic recession that has taken its toll on the surrounding community.

In 2008 the United Way barely reached its $6.9 million target in early 2009, with about $4.8 million coming from Hamilton. The 2009 campaign, scheduled to be kicked off on York Boulevard on Sept. 17 expects the coming year to be just as difficult.

“The needs are higher,” acknowledged United Way Board Chair Tom Bontje.

But he’s confident as the times get tougher, organizations and people dig deeper into their pockets to assist their fellow residents.

“Just as the dollar needs are greater, the community just comes together,” he says.

“It is a challenge across the country,” said Mr. Lifchus. “The recession could make people lose their faith in the economy. For me, I want to go shopping and spend. Never is there a better time to help those people in need.”

All people have to do is give a small amount, he said. Even $1 makes a huge difference.

“The power of the nickels and dimes are incredible, said Mr. Lifchus. “We need everybody to help out.

Mr. Bontje said Mr. Skidmore, who took over the position in 2005, did an “amazing job” re-branding the organization and reaching out to establish important relationships with organizations in both communities.

But for the United Way to meet its next target, the organization wanted a person with the background who could match what the community needed with the resources available.

“Len is a very dynamic guy, a great guy,” said Mr. Bontje. “He has the experience and the commitment. We needed someone to come in and work with the agencies and connect the dots.”

Mr. Lifchus expects to hit the ground running when he takes over next month outlining a hectic schedule that includes holding open houses, possibility in October, meeting with various politicians and stakeholder groups in both communities.

Mr. Lifchus accepted a five-year contract that can be renewed by the organization.

Regardless of what happens in 2014, he doesn’t expect to retire anytime soon.

“I have no plans on retiring,” he said. “My father worked until he was 74 before retiring. If you are making a difference in the community and saving lives daily, that makes you get out of bed every morning.”