My first Day of Caring

I recently had the pleasure of participating in a Day of Caring for Stepping Stones Youth Home, one of our United Way member agencies. Never having taken part in one of these before, I wasn’t sure what to expect, even though I knew it most likely involved physical labour and hard work. Arriving at 8:00 am on a beautiful, sunny morning I was anxious to get started. Lynn, the Executive Director for Stepping Stones was there to greet us with hot coffee and fresh muffins and donuts.

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An executive team from Syncrude brought all the supplies needed for the day while bricks, soil and stones were donated by a local company (Burnco Rock Products). The plans were to move and construct a new area for an existing vegetable garden, build a low brick wall around a smaller garden, trim trees, paint doors and repair a fence that was missing more than a few boards.

Once everyone arrived we broke into groups and were assigned our tasks for the day. I was happy to be working on the smaller garden, weeding and preparing for the new brickwork. I knew some of the volunteers already but I enjoyed meeting people I hadn’t met before. Trying to keep their names in my head was probably my most challenging job of the day.

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As a surprise, Syncrude presented Lynn with a brand new, top-of-the line barbeque and utensils for everyone at the group home to enjoy. It was a very heartfelt moment. One of the groups was in charge of assembling the barbeque and they did, just in time for lunch. We all enjoyed yummy grilled hamburgers, salads, chips and chocolate treats compliments of Stepping Stones.

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I have to say, I really, really enjoyed my day out in the fresh air, helping to improve the yard and gardens at this wonderful place. Meeting new people and learning more about this great organization and what they do to support our youth, helped me to really appreciate even more the community we live in here in Fort McMurray. The feeling of accomplishment I felt and the pure joy on Lynn’s face at the end of the day was worth all the sore muscles I would have. The community spirit I experienced is also one of the things that will keep me involved in helping with many, many more Days of Caring.


Author: Valerie Winters

Valerie joined the staff of the United Way of Fort McMurray in March 2015. Born and raised near Bridgewater, Nova Scotia she moved here in February 2013 with her husband Scott. A big believer in volunteering and giving back to her community has always been an important part of Valerie’s life. After her son, Zack started primary school she devoted her time to helping in various areas of the school for the next six years. Then, deciding to re-join the workforce she prepared by returning to school and earning her Office Administration Certificate and Gold Medal award at the Nova Scotia Community College in Truro. Proud of her achievements and goals met, she has made many friends and learned much along her life’s journey. Valerie enjoys being creative, painting with water colors, reading books borrowed from the fabulous Fort McMurray Library, spending time with family and friends, keeping fit and of course volunteering whenever she can. Always feeling she receives more than she gives, one of the best things she received was her husband! They met through volunteering with the Big Brother, Big Sister Organization, both as “Bigs”. Shilo, Valerie’s “Little”, was maid-of-honor at their wedding. Valerie is thrilled to be working with the amazing team here at the United Way who has made her feel so welcomed from her first day onward. Being a part of such a wonderful organization is a dream come true.