In service to others

This morning I read the news release from Russell Thomas, my colleague here at United Way about the increase in demands for funds. This does not surprise me. As I attend the “Seeing is Believing Tours” I see for myself where the money is going and what kinds of programs the giving from our generous donors actually funds.

The first draft of the agency proposals have now been submitted and will be reviewed by the Community Investment Committee who will provide initial feedback. On November 6th, the agencies will then submit their final proposal. Here are some of the things that might not happen if the money is not available and a program has to be cut or scaled back as a result of loss of United Way funds:

Legacy Counselling may not be able to offer free counselling to children and youth.

Fort McMurray Boys and Girls Club may not be able to support children with care which includes a nutritious meal in their after school program – leaving them to seek alternative support which may mean going home to an empty house.

Centre of Hope may not be able to provide the level of programming including the many health and wellness services they offer to the homeless likely increasing the desperation and isolation these folks face.

McMan Youth and Family Services may not be able to support isolated senior citizens in their own homes by organizing volunteers to support them with daily tasks such as doctor appointments, shopping and a sense of continued purpose.

United Way funded programs such as those that promote literacy, social skills, strong families, healthy children, a sense of belonging to adolescents, prenatal classes, support to Nannies, outreach programs, immigrant support, mental health support (and so many more) may have to be scaled back or eliminated altogether if the funding from United Way is not collected.

Yesterday I had the chance to listen to Marty Giles in his role as Chair of the 2015 Community Campaign speak passionately to a few of the workplace campaign Chairs. He reminded us that for the price of a cup of coffee a day, each of us could be the difference.  What if your contribution is just the amount needed to provide free counselling to a family who seeks intervention to support a child who may be suicidal? What if your contribution is just the amount required to provide an instructor to teach an anger management class to a group of folks seeking better ways of communicating with their loved ones and co-workers?

I encourage you to dig deep this United Way Campaign and then dig a little more. Pay the $2.00 to wear your jeans on Friday or chip in $5.00 to buy a cupcake. Sign up for a $50.00 pledge from each pay check.  To find out more about more about United Way and the agencies and programs that are supported OR to donate online, please visit The United Way website #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.