Everyday superhero

Last Thursday evening, we came together for an important event, the 2015 VIP Red Carpet Reception – Volunteers Inspiring People. Sponsored by Unifor local 707, the event is a way to thank all of our volunteers. I was humbled and honoured to be asked to create a piece of art that would be used to create gifts of gratitude to the United Way Board, Workplace Campaign Chairs and Community Investment Committee.

I would like to share with you the symbols.


The water colour painting is called “Everyday heroes – It Could be me”.

In the centre of the painting is a child wearing a superhero cape. She believes that anything is possible. During childhood we often believe that there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, that if you did good deeds/ good would come back to you. And we believed that we could be a princess or an NHL player. At some point, many of us stopped believing in miracles. Our volunteers still believe in miracles and worked many hours to make a difference in the lives of children and families. From the small things like paying $2 to wear jeans on a Friday to lighting up your business at the bottom of Confederation to remind others that people need our help even during the night. Every deed, no matter how small, has made a difference at United Way.

The child embraces the warmth of the sun under the United Way rainbow. Above the rainbow we imagine the northern lights as a reminder that our agencies service the community during both the day and at night.

You will see the small village to the right. There are 27 unique houses that represent our 26 agencies. The Yellow house at the front reminds us that there will always be more need in the community.

Through the middle of the picture is a river. This represents the 65+ programs that United Way funded agencies deliver. Each program creates a ripple that impacts the quality of life of our citizens and provides access to the community it runs through. Perhaps the ripples go beyond what we can even see but we trust that we have made a difference.

Perhaps you have noticed the trees that represent the four seasons – our agencies service our community in all seasons.

On each side of the river and at the end you will see a breakwater and a bridge made of bricks. Despite our best efforts to anticipate the needs of the river, sometimes resources overflow and in other years we experience a bit of a drought. Do we quit, pack it in, give up? Heck no! We bring people like you – the builders, the excavators, the planners and designers and we build new plans to strengthen the weak points or make plans for reserves which ultimately provides support to the entire system and community when needed.

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Each of you has become a piece of the frame. Like the frame for this picture, you provide the structure and stability necessary to hold it all together. We invite you to sign the frame as the builders, planners, designers and doers of the United Way. The picture is now a part of The Redpoll Centre. For years to come, it will serve as a small reminder of the many people who made a difference to our community by your commitment to the United Way in 2015.

Thank you for being an everyday superhero. Together, #WeArePossibility.


Author: Sherry Duncan

Sherry proudly calls Fort McMurray home. Having lived in several mining communities with her family, it has been her experience that the heart of a community can be found at the volunteer pancake breakfasts, food bank drives, parent councils and similar community events no matter where your travels take you. From an early age Sherry volunteered in service to others under the watchful eye of her socially conscious father. As a parent to her own 3 (adult) children she has practiced and passed on those many life lessons. Over the years she has Chaired several volunteer events including (more recently) a Keyano United Way Campaign and served as board member for various organizations. Fort McMurray has no shortage of opportunities to be involved at many levels. Most recently Sherry's volunteered both front of house and on stage for Keyano theatre, Tedx Fort McMurray, Safe Communities Wood Buffalo PARTY Program, Social Prosperity Wood Buffalo and The Western Canada Summer Games. Sherry has completed the internationally recognized Chair Leadership Academy as part of her position as Chair and Instructor in Childhood Studies at Keyano College where she was also awarded the President's Instructional Leadership Award. She is a proud Leadership Wood Buffalo alumni, facilitator and keynote speaker. For 29 years, teaching children and adults has been her career allowing her many opportunities to travel, present, facilitate and engage in both educational and philanthropic activities. Joining the United Way will truly bring together her passions for teaching, learning and making a difference in the heart of her community and the Wood Buffalo Region.