I believe that communities thrive when there is an interdependent culture and we’re all looking out for one another. I give back because I am able to and hope to ensure others in similar positions to do the same so that we can work together to help alleviate poverty.
Meet John Wilson
Tell me a bit about yourself.
I'm originally from Bedford in the UK and I first visited Canada when I was in the Armed Forces. I found that Alberta was a place that really resonated with me and I eventually moved to Edmonton where I've lived ever since. After living here a few years I went to Grant MacEwan and took a two-year Police and Security Diploma course and then completed a Criminal Justice degree through Athabasca University. I've worked for the City for 17 years and have been a parking enforcement officer, a bylaw enforcement officer and then a director in bylaw enforcement, human resources, and now in our Corporate Culture Office.
I currently live in the Goldbar area with my partner which I love because of the strong sense of community that pervades the neighbourhood and the proximity to the river valley. Over the years I've found myself drawn to the river valley in a number of ways whether it be when I used to have dogs to walk, when I ran half and full marathons, or when I go mountain biking. I love that we can drop into the river valley in the heart of our city and enjoy a seemingly endless network of trails and trees!
How long have you lived in Edmonton?
I've lived in Edmonton for almost 26 years.
Tell me about some of your hobbies and interests.
I enjoy mountain biking, snow boarding, and drinking craft beer. I've always been an avid reader and really enjoy live music. I've done a little back country hiking which I thoroughly enjoyed and I'd like to do more. The mountains in Western Canada are amazing and I enjoy spending time in Jasper and BC. I used to do quite a bit of running and I've participated in the Banff-Jasper relay and the K-100 relay races. I've also ran half-marathons and marathons but these days my knees are happier when I spend time on my mountain bike!
I've done a few mountain biking trips to various place such as Moab in Utah, Fruita in Colorado, Bend in Oregon and a coast-to-coast trip in Scotland. I'm looking forward to doing another cost-to-coast mountain biking trip in England this summer. I also enjoy sampling our local craft breweries and restaurants.
What is something that you are most proud of?
It's hard to single out a single accomplishment as the one I'm most proud of! However, I worked really hard to get my Criminal Justice Degree whilst working full time and developing a career with the City. I guess that is something I'm quite proud of.
What is your approach to philanthropy and community?
Everyone has something to offer in support of their community. It may be the donation of money to charitable organizations if someone has enjoyed a certain level of success in their career, it may be through the donation of time or expertise, and it may even be through simply being supportive and engaging with friends and neighbours. I believe that it's important to recognize that the different types of contributions we all make to strengthening our community all have value and play a role. I'm fortunate enough to be in a position where I can donate money and some of my time to our community so I do so as well as trying to make a point of recognizing the contributions of others. I've supported a number of different organizations and causes over the years and I think the two big themes for me centre on access to education opportunities and health issues.
Why do you support United Way?
I've come to realize the benefits of supporting a single organization that focuses on eliminating poverty by supporting a comprehensive range of charities working directly with people in our community. This issue is a huge barrier to many of the benefits and opportunities that I have taken for granted in my life and directly impacts people's ability to access education and health services.
What inspired you to give?
The City's United Way campaign educated me about the work that the organization does to eliminate poverty and support people in our community. I heard a few testimonials from people about the difference that United Way has made in their lives and I was moved to make United Way the focus of my giving. We all need help from others at one or more points in our lives and I've certainly enjoyed that support in the past. This is my opportunity to support an organization that helps people right here in my community.
How long have you been supporting United Way?
I started donating as a Leader of the Way in 2016. I had donated in an ad hoc fashion in the past but decided that it was time to make a more consistent commitment to supporting people in a sustainable way.
Why is it important to give back to your community?
Because we're all in this together! I want to live in a community where we share a collective responsibility to help each other live the best lives we can. When someone struggles with health issues, access to education, or overwhelming poverty it effects all of us. This is one small way that I can contribute to building a better community for all of us to enjoy together.