Musings from the ever-changing, ever-amazing and occasionally ever-baffling Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Family, Fort McMurray Style

One of the things I've come to realize over the years is that after leaving home at nineteen I never really lived very close to members of my family again. In fact, I often lived in cities and towns where I had no family, and arrived knowing few, if any, people. What this meant is that friends and co-workers often became like family, and I shared their triumphs and their struggles. Someone I consider part of my extended  Fort Mac family is facing a monumental struggle, people, and they need help from the entire community. I'd like to tell you a bit about them, their struggle, and why they mean so much to me.

Mrs Angela Woods (nee Dingwell) is the vice-principal at my child's previous school. As I served on parent council I got to know and work with Angela a bit, and she is both a wonderful professional and a lovely woman. I was distressed recently to hear that she was ill, and when the story took a turn for the worse my distress became determination to do what I could to help. This is the official release from the Fort McMurray Public School District:

Beacon Hill School is seeking the assistance of the community to help one of their own.
The school is hosting a series of fundraisers to assist the Woods’ family during difficult times.
Beacon Hill vice-principal Angela Woods is currently on the waiting list for a kidney transplant while her husband Jamie underwent unexpected major surgery.
While Jamie was being tested as a kidney donor for his wife, a tumor was discovered in his stomach. As a result, both of them will be unable to work for an extended period of time. This will leave them with limited financial means as well as extensive medical and travel expenses for months to come.
The district is hosting a series of fundraising events over the next few weeks to assist the Woods’ family.

Fine Arts Extravaganza
The Fine Arts Extravaganza on Wednesday May 25 from 6-8pm at Beacon Hill School.
The Fire Department will be BBQ' ing hot dogs and hamburgers with all proceeds going to the family. Also students will be donating works of their artwork that will be sold by silent auction.

Silent Auction
There will be a silent auction at the École Dickinsfield School Theatre concert on Tuesday, May 31 at 7:00 p.m. It’s a fun-free evening with refreshments and excellent entertainment.

Spaghetti Supper
On Thursday, June 2 from 6-8 p.m. Beacon Hill will be serving up a spaghetti supper. As well, the school will be hosting a silent auction. The supper cost will be $20 per family.

School officials wish to extend a welcome to anyone who would like to take part in any of these events, drop off items for auction, or extend any financial support. Donations can be dropped off at either school.
For more information call Beacon Hill at 780-743-8722

Yes, you read that correctly. Jamie Woods was being tested in order to donate a kidney to his wife when they discovered he had a tumour. Suddenly it was not just Angela facing a frightening illness, but Jamie, too. I can't even imagine what this experience must be like for both of them. They are a young couple, just embarking on their married life, and while this shouldn't happen to anyone at any time it surely shouldn't happen to them right now. Life isn't fair, I know, but the unfairness of this angers me and it makes me want to help.

The best way I can do that is to spread the word, which is why I am posting this entry today. Beacon Hill Public School is a wonderful place full of remarkable staff and students, and I know they will throw their entire support behind Angela and Jamie. It is also, though, a small school and thus they need all of us, Fort McMurray.

 I encourage every single person who reads this post to do something to help this young couple as they face a situation I wouldn't wish on anyone. Go to the Fine Arts Extravaganza tonight and buy some supper or bid on the silent auction. Attend the spaghetti dinner on June 2. Or, just drop by the school and drop whatever money you can spare into the office. Angela and Jamie are part of our Fort McMurray family, people. Many of us don't have much family here, so welcome them into your family. By doing so you not only help them, but you become part of a much larger family, too. You become part of the Fort McMurray Family, and I believe at last count we are about 100,000 strong. That's one helluva family, isn't it?

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