Donations help over 65 local programs

By RUSSELL THOMAS, United Way of Fort McMurray

Stu Marchand sings his “Change Starts Here” song at United Way of Fort McMurray’s 2015 Community Campaign kickoff event on September 9 at Shell Place. PHOTO: Greg Halinda

Stu Marchand sings his “Change Starts Here” song at United Way of Fort McMurray’s 2015 Community Campaign kickoff event on September 9 at Shell Place. PHOTO: Greg Halinda

The work of the United Way and its member agencies is so much richer than the bounty of generosity that happens every fall during the Community Campaign. For Sherry Duncan, after a month in her new role as Community Investment Coordinator with the United Way, the examples of how these donated dollars help in the community are abundant.

“A young pregnant mother arrived in Fort McMurray from Northern British Columbia,” she shared in a recent blog post, published on The United Way of Fort McMurray website.

“With the support of her family, she looked for community agencies to help her with parenting skills and the process of having, then raising a child. To begin, The Hub Family Resource Centre offered prenatal classes. This gave her the tools and confidence to go through the birthing process with new knowledge and support.”

“Once her child arrived,” she continued, “the Children’s Centre parent toddler program welcomed her to their weekly gatherings. The new moms shared lunch, listened to guest speakers, received milk coupons, and enjoyed celebrations together. The single mom developed a sense of community, new skills and confidence as a result of this program.”

On a recent Seeing Is Believing tour, Duncan joined a small group of people on a visit to Pastew Place Detox Centre. In addition to providing a safe place to mentally and physically prepare for going into treatment, the facility also runs a post-treatment program funded by the United Way.

“On our tour, we talked to a client in the post treatment program,” said Duncan. “This individual was very proud of their sobriety and bragged about this success. Because of the support and programs at Pastew Place, this person would soon be reuniting with a daughter, just one of many successes.”

“On our tour, we talked to a client in the post treatment program,” said Duncan. “This individual was very proud of their sobriety and bragged about this success. Because of the support and programs at Pastew Place, this person would soon be reuniting with a daughter, just one of many successes.”

Organizations, facilities and programs supported by dollars raised during the Community Campaign are located throughout the community. We may drive by several of them every day without even giving it a second thought. The Seeing Is Believing tours and their companion videos provide a new perspective to what happens when human needs get met.

“On a recent tour of the Centre of Hope, a group of about 20 of us were listening to the presentation being given by Executive Director Stephen Bryant, when a client stopped by to say a few words,” reflected Duncan.

“I would not be alive today if it weren’t for this centre,” said the client. “I may not look like much, but I have had tough times. I come here and when I do, they listen and I feel like they care and that I matter.”

“I would not be alive today if it weren’t for this centre,” said the client. “I may not look like much, but I have had tough times. I come here and when I do, they listen and I feel like they care and that I matter.”

Duncan learned that the Centre of Hope is so much more than a safe, dry place to have a cup of coffee.
“The Centre of Hope provides counselling, a listening ear, a few moments of comfort, basic needs and dignity, including a sense of belonging.”

Needs addressed by United Way member agencies are many and currently span 26 organizations and over 65 different programs. Behind every need is a human being whose life is going to be positively impacted by dollars donated during the Community Campaign. What a great reason to give.

– Connect Weekly –