I was recently honored with the Soul of Airdrie Award at this year’s Airdrie Volunteer awards. The award is given partly to an individual that demonstrates a passion for helping others.
I’ve never accepted praise easily. I’ve never enjoyed being the centre of attention and I am sure that is why. Even as a kid when I won a big (or little) golf tournament I always down played the accomplishment and looking back I am almost embarrassed by how I handled myself. I feel similar today as people congratulate me for this award. I don’t know what to say other than Thank You. Believe me when I say that I am honored by the award and so very appreciative of the person that nominated me and the people that agreed that I should be named the Soul of Airdrie recipient. In the end however, I don’t do the things I do for recognition. I do them because I believe in a greater purpose and in helping people. This is why Michelle and I started the Airdrie Angel Program.
For those of you that don’t know what the Angel Program is, each month we select a family that has been struggling at know fault of their own and we go to the business community and put a specific package of around $1,500-$1,700 together that will hopefully meet that individuals or families needs. The package always includes $500 cash as money is always something people can use. It’s not life changing money in any way. It’s simply to lift their spirit and hopefully get them onto the next chapter of their life.
I came up with the concept for the program one day while driving to a conference with Michelle. I always loved the Gerry Forbes “Secret Wish” Program that he does in Calgary. I remember the first time I heard it driving to work crossing over the Deerfoot on 16th Ave crying my eyes out and I’ve loved it ever since.
Michelle and I had been struggling with our advertisement on the local radio station so during our trip to south Calgary we decided to take the air time we had been paying for and use it to put this program on the radio. At first we discussed doing it anonymously as we never wanted people to think we were doing it for the wrong reason. However, we also understood that we do have a good reputation in Airdrie and we know a lot of people so we felt that by putting our names to it we could grow the program faster.
We didn’t really have any concerns about the program. We figured anything that came up we could work through. The only thought Michelle had was that I would spend a lot of my time out looking for supporters, which would take me away from my business. I had to certainly think about that as selling homes is how I support our family which of course is my first priority. However, it was my belief that after about 3 months the program would be self-fulfilling and I wouldn’t have to go out and sell the program to supporters. While it might have been more than 3 months it didn’t take long for the program to catch on and we had many coming to us saying they wanted to be a part of the program and that continues to happen today. It’s just so humbling that so many put their faith in us to do the right thing with their money.
With that we started the Airdrie Angel Program in January of 2013.
2016 has been a break out year for us. First in December (ok the break out year started in 2015) with the motivation and experience of our partners at Switchback Creative, Suzy and Trevor Rounce we decided to move the program to video and start our YouTube channel (Airdrie Angel). We were also at the point where we had more money coming in than going out so we decided to select 6 additional recipients to make it a total of 18 for the year. We decided
to do these ones around special occasion. Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and 3 additional at Christmas. Our goal has always been to make this a weekly program so we felt this was a great start to achieving that.
There is one thing that is very important to me to mention and it ties back to the support that we have received. We all have heard stories about different organizations and the percentage of how much that gets donated actually goes back to the people that need it. I am not here to judge any other organization but it has always been very important to us that 100% of what the community gives us goes to the recipients. So with that The Carre Group pays 100% of the administration and the running of the program.
I also have to thank our Group. Charlotte Allen who has been with us for 9 years, Kipp McGonigal, Ryan Wood and last but certainly not least, Marie Lauer who handles all the behind the scenes stuff for the program and is so integral to the success of it. They are all very passionate about the program and without their support we would not be nearly as strong as we are. Thanks all.
So back to the beginning and why I started writing this blog. I know I was not named the Soul of Airdrie simply because of this program. I have happily and had a lot of fun working with various committees around town. They have all taught me a lot and I have met so many fantastic people by doing so. That being said the Angel program is certainly what I am most passionate about and proud of. And I know Michelle is just as passionate and proud as I am. The reason why we are so proud is simple...to date (May 30th 2016) we have helped 35 individuals and/or families and given out over $61,000 worth of items and money. Not bad for a little grass roots organization that Michelle and I started with a simple conversation.