Paying it forward

“As I was growing up, a lot of the things that were necessary to help assimilate into Canadian life were available to me through United Way programs. Things like daycare, camp programs and even Excel classes,” explained Maly Bun, chair of the Schulich Medicine & Dentistry United Way Campaign.

Bun and her family immigrated to Clinton, Ontario from Cambodia when she was three years old.

Living in a new country with a different culture wasn’t easy. With the help of United Way’s dedication to improving the quality of life for everyone in our community, Bun and her family were able to adjust to their new life in Canada.

The positive experiences and impact that the United Way programs had on Bun left her with lasting memories and a desire to give back to her community.

Bun first began working with United Way as a youth program assistant.

“To be involved first-hand in an organization like that was a dream come true," said Bun. "I was able to understand the organization from so many different perspectives. It opened a lot of doors for me.”

As the Chair of the Schulich Medicine & Dentistry United Way Campaign, Bun, along with Dr. Margaret Steele, vice dean, Hospital and Interfaculty Affairs, the 2014 co-chair of Western University’s United Way campaign, volunteers countless hours of her time into networking, meetings, goal setting and event planning for the School’s United Way campaign.

“This year, Dr. Steele and I set a fundraising goal of $150,000 for Schulich Medicine & Dentistry. Last year we raised a little more than $100,000, so we’re trying to exceed that number,” said Bun.

Bun has coordinated a number of different events to raise money for the campaign, including pizza days in Medical Sciences Building lobby, a gift basket raffle, a stair climb team and Dwayne Martin’s Moustache Madness. “For all that has been done for the campaign, I really owe it to my Schulich United Way committee who has worked tirelessly to help plan and organize the most fun events we have had to date,” said Bun.

The money that is raised for United Way will support a variety of community assistance programs. Unique with the United Way is that the programs they provide assistance for in the community are constantly changing based on what Canadians require assistance with.

“For example, Kellogg’s was a key company who donated so much to United Way. Now that they’ve closed, the same people who may have donated money before could be in a position where they are now requiring assistance from United Way,” said Bun.

Although Bun has not yet reached her goal of $150,000 this year, she is very grateful for the contributions of the people across the School. “When you volunteer, you’re impacting someone’s life. The people who volunteered for United Way when I immigrated to Canada impacted my life,” explained Bun.

“That’s exactly why I want to pay it forward and keep giving back. And hopefully, the kids receiving support today will also have the same great experiences and they will pay it forward in the years to come.”