VIP – Volunteers Inspiring People

The United Way is fuelled and inspired by volunteers. What began with Mary-Anne Warren’s determination to give back to her community by taking out a personal loan to get the organization up and running in 1978 continues 17 years later. Hundreds, if not thousands, choose to contribute to the community by giving of their time and talents to the United Way.

United Way volunteers contribute to our efforts to meet community needs in many different ways. Some serve at the governance level by giving back as a member of our Board of Directors. The men and women who have dedicated their skills at the strategic level include some of the most influential and transformational leaders that our community has ever know. Click here to see who has served as our President over the years.

Our Community Investment Committee members are also VIPs (Volunteers Inspiring People). These are the amazing community volunteers who spend countless hours reviewing agency funding applications, participating in interviews, and quarterly updates. They immerse themselves in the critical work of the agencies and provide guidance and support as they go through the funding process. Every single volunteer on the Community Investment Committee has the best interests of the community at heart as they do the heavy lifting of trying to balance available funding with priority areas of need.

The Community Investment Committee is chaired by John Evans, a volunteer who serves with incredible heart and love for the community.  He is carrying on a strong tradition of leaders who have served in this important role over the years.  Click here to see the list of Community Investment Committee Chairs.

Another group of amazing volunteers who work with the United Way are the contributors to the Workplace Campaigns. Numbering in the hundreds, these dedicated men and women go through a robust learning process to find out about the United Way, the agencies we fund, and why replenishing the community fund is so vital to the health of our community and region. These folks are on the front lines of our drive to address the needs of children, youth, adults, seniors and families. They champion the cause and inspire work colleagues to pledge, buy 50/50 tickets, participate in fundraisers, and myriad activities that raise funds and awareness.

Marty Giles has done a stellar job in rallying support in his role as Community Campaign Chair.  His energy, enthusiasm and commitment to the community have been inspirational to all of us.  He has brilliantly taken up the torch passed by Andy Carter and so many other great leaders.  See the complete list of Community Campaign Chairs by clicking here.

The words “United” and “Way” denote an idea, a belief that we can be stronger, more resilient, caring and remarkable as a community when we tackle challenges together, when we take a united approach. It is an idea rooted in volunteerism and propelled by authentic concern for our neighbours.

On Thursday, November 19th, we will be hosting our annual VIP Red Carpet Reception sponsored by Unifor. Our VIPs are Volunteers Inspiring People. Coined by Jamie Dowling, a former United Way employee, the phrase “Volunteers Inspiring People” captures so much about the spirit of this organization and the role it plays in Wood Buffalo. On this evening we will celebrate and honour the heroes who give so much of their time, talents, and energy to ensure that our agencies can get the financial resources they need to build stronger communities, help kids be all that they can be, and bring people from poverty to possibility.


Author: Russell Thomas

​Russell is a marketing and communications professional who has spent 20 years in Wood Buffalo working with the OK Radio Group, Keyano College, Arts Council Wood Buffalo, and now with The United Way of Fort McMurray. A regular blogger, Russell's writing can be seen online ( and in multiple publications. His paintings can be seen in homes and businesses throughout the community. Married to Heather and "Papa" to Dylan and Ben, Russell is a passionate spokesperson for United Way.