Each Milestone Leaves its Mark

Have you ever settled back after a hard day’s work to survey your progress and thought, “There, another job done.”  If the work is anything like shovelling snow or cleaning a bathroom or laundry, you know it’s only done…for now.

I have often wished that there was a time in my life when a big, booming voice would announce, “The exercise portion of your life is now complete.  You don’t need to exercise anymore – ever.”  Sadly, this will probably never occur in my lifetime (especially if I never actually start exercising).

Same goes for all the work we do as parents, partners and citizens.  As parents we worry a lot about our kids.  Will they turn out okay?  Will they become good law-abiding adults and raise good kids themselves?  As they are growing up and families turn those many corners we breathe a sigh of relief, phew, we’ve made it past the most recent challenge of parenting.  Only to be faced by another challenge.  It never really ends. But we also celebrate the progress and achievements our families make as they grow.  That’s the payback.  

As a community we also celebrate the many corners we turn – the milestones we reach.  In fact, just this week, we learned from Homeward Trust that the number of people in Edmonton without homes is down by 21% over the numbers counted in 2008.  This is a cause for celebration – but only for a brief while – because we’re not done yet. There are still people – families – out there without proper shelter.  All of us together, with the backing of our municipal and provincial governments, have committed to ending homelessness.  And with the significant and encouraging progress we are making, we have to believe that we will because we have seen the progress and the achievement so far.  That’s the payback a community gets for working hard to get to the root cause of a problem.   

As an organization, United Way is committed to making significant progress to resolve the issues and challenges we face as a community – challenges just like homelessness.  As an employee of United Way, the closer we get to our goals – both fundraising and finding solutions to issues – the more I realize how much work there is still to be done. This is not meant to sound discouraging because it’s really about progress – significant progress.  It’s about recognizing how much work we have all done together but realizing that we still have more to do before we claim a milestone. 

As of today, we have raised close to $14.3 million toward our 2010 target of $21.5 million – that’s 66.4%.  With the economic uncertainty of the past two years, the progress we have made this year is cautiously optimistic and certainly hopeful…but we’re not done yet.  It’s that last stretch that’s always the most difficult.  We just have to believe (and we do) that our community has the strength, commitment and the goodwill to help finish this year with the most support they can muster and achieve that $21.5 million target.  

The hard work and skills of the entire community are needed to keep the resources available to help create and fund the solutions we need to continue the progress we have achieved.  No child should go to school hungry, no senior should feel isolated and alone and everyone should have a safe place to call home.

No, we’re not done yet, and I don’t see us slowing down at all – thanks everyone – it’s because of all your efforts that we can say we have already overcome or made progress on many challenges, only to be inspired to keep going and tackle some more.  Together we do this great community work – together we create change – together we share in the milestone achievements. 

Now, who wants to get together and help me shovel my sidewalk? 

Nancy Critchley is Director, Communications for United Way of the Alberta Capital Region and dislikes housework because it's not rewarding like her career.