The power of community in Wood Buffalo

Ahmed's interview

YMCA employee, Ahmed Salman, smiling at camera and sitting on a chair.

Ahmed's Story

YMCA of Northern Alberta is proud to serve every child, youth, family, and newcomer in the Wood Buffalo region through our child care, health and fitness services, and community programs. Fort McMurray continues to rebuild after experiencing severe devastation from the 2016 Fort McMurray fires, flooding in 2020, and now the global pandemic, and needs community and connection more than ever. Ahmed Salman, Program Coordinator for YMCA Immigration Settlement Services in Wood Buffalo, shares his perspective on how impactful your gift can be to your community.

After being part of the Y family for 4 years, Ahmed has seen first-hand how the Y is transforming neighborhoods into community. "I have seen the Y participate, and often take the lead, on many community support initiatives, especially in the last year. Our Community and Housing Initiative programs rose to new heights in a year that saw another spring flood, as well as the pandemic. Our staff volunteered with flood relief and continued to support our community's most vulnerable populations including underhoused and underemployed individuals, families, newcomers, and foreign workers in the Wood Buffalo region, both remotely and in-person." 

Most recently, our donors impact made a difference that hit closer to home for Ahmed. "The local Muslim community, of which I am a proud member, lost access to a rented community swimming pool that was damaged during the 2016 wildfires. A couple of YMCA programs collaborated, and thanks to the leadership of a Program Manager, accessed funds to offer our former Westwood swimming pool to members of my community for private group swims at a reduced rate. This made a remarkable difference for my community and was a very positive bridge-building gesture. It went on for the better part of a year." The Y is where diversity and inclusion is fundamental to who we are, and what we do. Thanks to our donors, we can be the place where all people belong and feel connected. 

Many people in the community aren't fully aware of the work the YMCA does, and we thank you for taking time to learn about our efforts and give so that we can continue to improve the well-being of your community. "Prior to joining the YMCA family, I associated the Y with a catchy song, and a family-oriented icon of health and fitness." Now, being a staff member and YMCA donor, Ahmed truly appreciates how the Y has helped the communities we serve. "I have donated in the past and I do it because it makes me feel healthier, both physically and mentally. I know how crucial the work that my colleagues do within Community and Housing Initiatives. We help with our time, knowledge and skills and are reasonably compensated for our efforts. If we are able to spare a little bit of our income, what better way to gift it than to our own Y initiatives, knowing it will go where it is needed most."

YMCA of Northern Alberta has been serving the community of Fort McMurray since 1975, and has helped all people grow and thrive. While we can't predict the future, we are thankful for our donors that help make your community stronger. Their support allows the Y to serve residents in the ways they need it most while everyone gets back on their feet. "I have seen the tremendous positive difference the Y makes in the lives of people on this planet of ours, regardless of their economic status, race, religion, sexual orientation and other distinctions that make us unique."

"Contributing to Y Giving helps countless members of our community tap into their potential." says Ahmed. "On behalf of the YMCA, thank you for your gift to YMCA of Northern Alberta for Month of Giving. Your community is stronger because of you."