Fire Recovery Fund at work in the community

A breakdown of donations to various local initiatives supported by United Way

By Russell Thomas, United Way of Fort McMurray

Jillian Sturgess, Alexis Foulds and Maryjo Jensen show off their new backpacks provided to them through the United Way of Fort McMurray’s Tools for School campaign. Over $85,000 was allocated to students of the Wood Buffalo region through the program. Superintendent of the Northland School Division Gord Atkinson said, “We would like to thank United Way for supporting our students in need for the new school year. The backpacks will help students impacted by the wildfires begin the school year on the right foot.” Supplied photo

Jillian Sturgess, Alexis Foulds and Maryjo Jensen show off their new backpacks provided to them through the United Way of Fort McMurray’s Tools for School campaign. Over $85,000 was allocated to students of the Wood Buffalo region through the program. Superintendent of the Northland School Division Gord Atkinson said, “We would like to thank United Way for supporting our students in need for the new school year. The backpacks will help students impacted by the wildfires begin the school year on the right foot.” Supplied photo

As the fire recovery continues in our community, more agencies and programs have benefited from the generosity of Albertans and Canadians who donated through the United Way. More than 30 per cent of the donations for fire recovery received to date, have either been invested, committed or are under review.

Over $85,000 was allocated to supplement the Tools for School program, providing school supplies to students in the Public, Catholic, Northlands and Francophone school districts. Over 3,000 youth from K-12 have been provided with the basics to ensure they are able to actively engage in learning alongside their peers in the classroom.

“This was an enormous project for all the partners involved,” said Diane Shannon, Executive Director of United Way of Fort McMurray. “In a normal year, we would help between 400 and 500 students. The need this year was on a scale that was unlike anything we have ever seen before.”

Funding was also approved for the Support Through Housing Team’s (STHT) Life Skills Program, helping the hard to house get essential life skills training for successful independent living.

“Housing was an issue in the affected areas previously and since the fires, many who lost their homes are also now in need of housing facing barriers they haven’t had previous to the fires,” wrote STHT in their application.
Additional funds have been approved for the Golden Years Society to assist in their role of being a drop-in activity centre for seniors in the region, many of whom lived in devastated neighbourhoods. HIV North Society also received funding support to continue the delivery of programming by helping replace revenues lost as a direct result of the wildfire and evacuation.

“We have been able to help a growing number of agencies in the community through this Fire Recovery Fund,” said John Evans, Community Investment Committee Chair. “We have a responsive funding application process in place and we’re able to effectively balance the need to maintain high levels of transparency and accountability with the need to get dollars to work in our community as quickly as possible to assist with recovery.”

The United Way is working collaboratively with many partners in the community, including the Canadian
Red Cross, to support the recovery of the social infrastructure.

“We are seeing genuine collaboration through this recovery,” said Shannon. “Many organizations are putting individual agendas aside and focusing on the common good. External contributors have been struck by the willingness of multiple organizations and sectors to work together to find solutions. This spirit of cooperation and a pervasive can-do attitude is resulting in a lot of progress.”

For more information, visit fmunitedway.com 

– Connect Weekly –