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It was a big year for The United Way of Fort McMurray as the organization moved from its Franklin Avenue location of The Redpoll Centre to its new home at Shell Place. Working closely with designers from Solutions Business Interiors, a space layout was developed utilizing modular walls that would maximize the flow of natural light, provide future potential reconfiguration, and make the most effective use of the available square footage.

“We wanted The Redpoll Centre at Shell Place to accommodate as many work stations as possible,” said Diane Shannon, Executive Director. “At the same time we wanted the space to be comfortable, provide effective meeting spaces, and meet the needs of the organizations who would be using it.”

With the lease at the Franklin Avenue location running out at the end of May and improvements scheduled to happen at Shell Place in the final two weeks of the same month, a lot of things had to come together in a small window of time.

“The development of the space and the move went exceptionally well,” said Russell Thomas, Project Manager. “Our partners at Shell Place and contractors were very understanding of our tight timelines and went above and beyond to get things ready. It was a real team effort.”

The United Way and its original tenants from the Franklin Avenue location successfully moved in during the final week of May and were open for business on June 1st. The ribbon was officially cut on The Redpoll Centre on September 9th following the kick-off of the 2015 Community Campaign.

By the time 2015 came to a close, a total of 16 organizations resided at The Redpoll Centre. Even in a short couple of months, the sense of community and connection is profound.
A number of agencies have noted collaborations and partnerships that have happened solely as a result of co-habitating at The Redpoll Centre.

“We have seen agencies work together on a variety of different projects,” said Diane Shannon. “The organic relationships that form when we work in a shared office environment are benefiting individuals, organizations and the community. The intent of The Redpoll Centre, as a capacity-building initiative of the United Way, has always been to strengthen our sector.”

The Redpoll Centre has truly blossomed into a community hub. Over and above the regular activity generated by the tenants, many other individuals and organizations are utilizing meeting rooms and common space supported by the Suncor Energy Foundation to have meetings, attend workshops and special events.

According to stats gathered by our Community Animator, 232 meetings were hosted at The Redpoll Centre with approximately 1737 participants between July and December.

“We know that those are conservative numbers,” said Shannon. “There have been several times when all three meeting spaces are being used and we have to use of alternative spaces like the lunchroom or the Barb Jewers Reflection Room and Resource Library. It’s awesome how The Redpoll Centre has become so embraced by the social profit sector and the community.”

“I often see people from different organizations discussing future events and ideas, sharing knowledge and even planning collaborations,” said Sandy Grandison, Community Project Faciliator, St. Aidan’s Society. “Working at The Redpoll Centre has been an unbelievable experience.”