Being a born-and-raised Newfoundlander, I have a ton of family and friends in Fort McMurray, I even lived there for 9 months when I first came out west. When I was reading the news all of Tuesday night as the evacuations progressed, all I could think of was where is my family, how are they doing, where are their houses, looking at this map and that, getting hold of family back east who might have been in touch with them, searching through facebook posts for updates... It was stressful, and I was glad to hear from my sister just after midnight,halfway through her 12 hour drive to Edmonton (it's only supposed to be about 4 hours) when she stopped to reunite with her husband who had to drive in a different car.
It was Wednesday at the office that my picture changed. Knowing that all my family was safe, my mind was able to think about what comes next. Just as everybody else in Alberta, I started looking more at "What can I do?" As the news started to come in about donation matching, I immediately thought of the Mission of Care program and how we could leverage that to make a difference. I first spoke to my mentor, Dan Harrison, about really trying to push people to come in to participate in that program. Kit Koon also started working on plans for what kind of events we could hold in the coming weeks. I spoke to Scott Low, as I knew he was in Edmonton, about getting in touch with somebody up there to see if they would be on board as well. I had written up a facebook post about the Mission of Care which was in the end shared by all of my colleagues in the Calgary office, more in Vancouver and Edmonton, friends in Calgary and Edmonton, and even all the way back home in Newfoundland.
Through all my interactions that day, I've never seen such enthusiasm to make a difference. In working with other companies, while many have been supportive of charities, it always seemed like it was a bit of an obligation. That the social construct of this age requires a company to look good in the public eye. After Wednesday I knew that FS was different. And then to see our co-founder, Scott Low, get up and challenge every advisor to educate 10 people financially and in doing so collectively donate what could amount to 75,000 dollars to the Red Cross. To hear these kinds of words from a small firm just shows the size of this company's heart.
My family has been fortunate - we have extended family in almost every major community in this province, and our network of support has been invaluable to those members who have been displaced. I know that there are countless others who have been less fortunate. For my own part, I'm just glad that going forth, my growing network within FS Financial will always support me in promoting the causes that are most important in the world.