Building community...the United Way

Over the last couple of months, there have been moments of uncertainty, mild panic, and self-doubt as I contemplated unemployment for the first time in almost 30 years.  In the end, I had one day between jobs (yesterday), though in reality I ended up working on some small contracts through Birdsong Connections, so in a sense, that doesn't really count.


Today, I start an engagement with the United Way of Fort McMurray doing a couple of different things.  First of all, I'll be team lead on the development of the Redpoll Centre 2.0, a social profit shared space at Shell Place on MacDonald Island.  I'll also be serving as Director of Communications and Community Impact.

I have to admit that when Diane Shannon and I first spoke about this opportunity, I got off the phone and did a couple of vigorous hand pumps in the air.  Not only would this provide an opportunity to leverage my range of skills and relationships, it would keep me in the social profit sector, which is the space in which I really want to play.  It took awhile to firm things up, but by the time you read this I will be at the Redpoll Centre 1.0 getting settled in and starting this exciting journey with a great organization and team.

Through my work with Keyano College, Social Prosperity Wood Buffalo, Convergence YMM, Arts Council Wood Buffalo, Nexus North, and FuseSocial, I have gained an affinity for the social profit sector (nonprofit sector for those outside of Wood Buffalo).  Getting to deliver a number of workshops over the last two years has been such a pleasure, and given me an opportunity to hone my skills as a facilitator.  Twitter 101, The 10 Immutable Laws of Networking, Telling Your Story, Managing the Message, Social Media Matters, and Email: The Two-Headed Monster were workshops that allowed me to meet many hard-working, passionate people in the sector, and hear their stories and ideas.  To be part of a supportive, inclusive, capacity-building, community-inspiring organization like the United Way of Fort McMurray absolutely hits the sweet spot for me.

"I feel like a kid anticipating the first day back to school," I said to Ben and Dylan last night.

I had this bizarre mix of butterflies, nervous anticipation, excitement and an eagerness to get down to work.  It was very reminiscent of my childhood years, getting the school supplies in order and figuring out what to wear for that first day of school.  Ironically, that was my first thought getting out of bed this morning:  What am I going to wear?  The child never leaves the man I guess.

I'm looking forward to a lot of things with this new suite of challenges and responsibilities.  Most immediately, I'm eager to dive into the learning process.  I know some things about the United Way, the annual campaign, the vision for the Redpoll Centre 2.0, etc. However, to be successful I will need to nurture a deeper, more comprehensive understanding.  I'm also looking forward to contributing to a team effort, with the staff, board, social profit organizations and the community.

I am deeply grateful to Diane Shannon and the United Way of Fort McMurray for this opportunity to contribute.  It's time to sink my teeth in and get to work.  Wish me well.

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