A crowd gathered together under the canopy of the Heritage Shipyard earlier today as the 2018 United Way Fort McMurray and Wood Buffalo Community Campaign officially kicked off. The program opened with Gilly Alook, a Woodland Cree; traditional knowledge keeper from the Bigstone Cree First Nation in Treaty 8 Territory. Gilly captured the attention of the crowd with an Indigenous blessing and prayer song.
Along with Gilly, the crowd consisted of partner agencies, community leaders, workplace campaign chairs, volunteers and United Way Board Members; all awaiting the big reveal of our 2018 Campaign Goal.
“We have seen what a community campaign, in our region, looks like post-wildfire”, shared United Way Board President, Steve Yatauro. “This year, we have set a campaign goal that is appropriate for the current state of our region. We will work with our agencies to empower them and support them while creating the greatest impact”. Steve left the goal reveal to the 2018 Community Campaign Chair, Ken Sandmoen.
The campaign this year feels different than in years’ past. Instead of focusing on a goal or the need, this years’ campaign focuses on Local Love and bringing the community together.
Long-time donor and advocate for the United Way, Cliff Dimm, spoke about why he chooses to donate and volunteer with United Way and its member agencies. “The first year I donated because I had the opportunity to win a prize, 2 years later I was donating because I had seen first-hand what was being done by the United Way in our community”.
Erin O’Neill, Fort McMurray resident, shared a powerful story about the support she has received from a United Way partner agency, Canadian Mental Health Association, while also garnering some laughs from the crowd: “Thank you to the United Way for their support. And not just their monetary support, although keep that coming! It’s the physical and emotional support that comes from them as well”.
“This year’s campaign goal is set at $5 Million”, declared Sandmoen, “we recognize that additional funding will be required to meet the needs of our community. We are continuously exploring ways to supplement our campaign by diversifying our fundraising efforts”.
The United Way Fort McMurray and Wood Buffalo Community Campaign runs for 10 weeks throughout the community at various workplace events. You can support the United Way by visiting our web page to donate, supporting our online auction or ordering off of the Red Menu at our participating restaurants: Boston Pizza (2 Locations), Earls (2 Locations), Moxie’s Bar and Grill, Surekha’s on the Snye, The Legion Armoury Grill, Table 63 at the Quality Hotel, Best Western Hotel, STACS Fine Food, Prime Test Kitchen, Chocolates and Candlelight and Wood Buffalo Brewing Company.
With final words from Yatauro, “With your help today, everyone in Fort McMurray and Wood Buffalo will have the opportunity to be supported and successful. Your contributions will make the difference to solve the complex needs of the people in our community”.