This week, we speak to Frances Lankin, president and CEO of United Way Toronto, about the numerous ways Torontonians are giving back to their local communities in order to improve the entire city.

“Toronto is a city of neighbourhoods, and by extension we’re all neighbours,” says Lankin, who has devoted her own career to community service. Prior to her appointment at United Way in 2001, she was the MPP for The Beach­es/East York. “No matter who we are, where we come from, or where we live, we’re connected — all of us.”

With that in mind, she encourages residents to explore areas of the city they’re not familiar with.

Although Torontonians are the most diverse population in Canada, Lankin points out that we have far more in common with one another than we may think.

Lankin also believes everybody should get involved in their residential communities. “Many communities across the city have formed local resident associations to improve or preserve the conditions of their neighbourhoods so they are healthy, vibrant places to work, live and raise a family,” she explains.

Lankin stresses there are numerous ways people are giving back and making Toronto a better place.

Some donate their time to community agencies, delivering meals to seniors, while others lead financial literacy classes for low-income families. Some coach people who have lost their jobs on ways to improve their interview skills, while others pack nutritious lunches and snacks for children who may not get enough to eat at home.

“At the end of the day, it’s about working together to create opportunities for a better life for everyone,” says Lankin.

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