My very first assignment at United Way was to interview the legendary Marchand sisters. I still remember that even at 90 years old they both had more energy than I've ever had. And yes, as the story goes, I also remember them trying to slip me a shot of rum with my Pepsi during the interview ;) They were, and are, amazing women and amazing philanthropists.
That first task subjected me to something that I was totally unfamiliar with at the time - philanthropy as a lifestyle. I knew after that conversation that no matter how long I was going to be at United Way, I was going to try to nail every second of it, because it was worth it.
Steve Martin tells aspiring comedians to be so good they can t ignore you. For someone like myself who isn t the flashiest person or the loudest person (and, admittedly, has a general distaste for squeaky wheels), these are words that have become a mantra I try to follow in everything I do.
This blog you re reading is my second last piece of work as an employee of United Way of the Alberta Capital Region (you'll have to come to kickoff to see the very last!) and I ve had four and a half amazing years of trying to be so good that I couldn t be ignored. I didn t always succeed, but I think I did more often than not.
One thing I m sure of though is that I ve been blessed to be a part of some truly amazing moments in our city and to see and experience things that many people do not. I won't go into those details, but I would be remiss to not publicly mention my Director, Nancy Critchley. She took a chance on me four and a half years ago and I hope I repaid that gamble in kind. She has been a mentor, a guide and a friend through much and I wish everyone could start their professional careers under that kind of leadership.
For me, United Way has become a blend of pure exuberance, innovation and energy tempered by experience, wisdom and tradition. It's the balanced breakfast we all hear about.
If I take one thing from my time here it s that nothing (absolutely nothing) happens because I do it. Or you do it. I and you are singular words and that s not how great things are done. Great things require plurals. We, for example, is a fine word.
But we can still do nothing without action. And after four and a half years, it s become apparent to me that you can t sorta support your community. You can t start change here with a "meh" and a shrug. It starts with an explosion in the mind, a collision, a coming together of people and ideas and a tearing apart at the most basic levels and it never stops. It s pure, unfiltered energy and drive and the people who put themselves in its path add to it every day.
Some of my best experiences in life have been a direct result of standing in that path and I m glad for the people I ve met while on it.
To the up-and-coming young gentleman who will be taking over my position: Be great, and this community will be great to you.
To the colleagues I am leaving: There were so many moments I felt I was working with some of the best humanity had to offer.
To the social media rockstars of #yeg: Thank you for being so kind and gracious whenever called upon. I've learned so much through your help.
To those who haven't bought into this crazy UW thing yet: Good luck ignoring us. We're good, and it s about to get loud.
Play me out, Keyboard Cat.