In the quintessential Alberta town of Brooks, about two hours east of Calgary, there is a woman on a mission to make her town better.
Her name is Kelly Banush. I met her and her friends, Tracy Joy and Pamela Steele, at the local coffee shop that doubled as their office this Wednesday afternoon.
Kelly has just set up a non profit organization called “Oil People Helping Oil People” to address the challenges she was seeing in her small town since the Alberta economy has tumbled into recession. Kelly told me she’s trying to take care of oil patch families who have lost their jobs, their benefits and who are now falling through the cracks.
Kelly wants to address the nutritional, transportation and health care needs of struggling oil patch families through the distribution of grocery, gas and pharmacy gift cards.
Oil People Helping Oil People (OPHOP) is a volunteer organization of local Brooks residents who are lending their unique skills to Kelly, among them a municipal politician, a graphic artist and an accountant. It’s an eclectic group of local women who saw a unique need in their community and stepped up to fill the gap.
OPHOP is now accepting donations through their website at helpingoilpeople.org.
Kelly is hoping to create a model that can be rolled out to other communities across the province.
Let’s never forget who we are. Kelly Banush didn’t. We are Albertans and anyone who underestimates us does not understand us. We are innovators. We are wealth creators and we are survivors. We will get through these trying times ahead and we will do it together.