Rick & Cathy Kirschner

Rick & Cathy Kirschner

YMM Builder

Presented by

By Carol Christian

Bringing the community together through responsive initiatives has been key to Rick and Cathy Kirschner’s involvement in Fort McMurray since their arrival 14 years ago.

The Kirschners were part of the driving force behind the creation of KAOS Radio – 91.1 on the FM dial, now known as UCB Canada; and the innovators of Snapd Wood Buffalo and the All Nations Church.

“There is a principle in the Bible which, in essence, says, you get attached to something you contribute to it. So, if you want to feel ownership of your community or welcome by it, we think it is important to contribute in as many ways as possible,” said Rick.

“We enjoy living in Fort McMurray, and the old saying, ‘Bloom where you are planted,’ comes to mind, meaning get involved where you are planted and make it a better place,” adds Cathy. “When we saw a need, we tried to fill the need that would help families living here.”

The foundations they have helped build within this community have also seen their family grow.

“Our two girls met their husbands here and our seven grandkids were born here. Fort McMurray means home,” stated Rick.

The Kirschners made their move to Fort McMurray from Ontario on invitation from Rick’s brother, the late Dave Kirschner, and his wife, Iris.

“We were invited by Dave to start a Christian radio station here in 2004. The process was long and difficult,” recalls Rick, but KAOS eventually launched in the spring of 2007.

“We love the people and the entrepreneurial spirit in McMurray. There were so many good stories the rest of the world wasn’t hearing, so in 2010, we launched Snapd Wood Buffalo.”

It wasn’t long before these community builders began planning All Nations Church.

“We actually started in the gym at Dave McNeely public school on Sept 26, 2020 – in the middle of COVID,” says Rick, shaking his head with wonder. “It has been a journey. We went through about eight locations before our home on Brett Drive.”

The church has enjoyed such growth; the single Sunday service has evolved into three.

“We are humbled by the growth and thankful for so many amazing people who have joined us in making All Nations Church a place where all can belong, find hope in Christ, discover their purpose, and be activated to make a difference in the world. It feels amazing and life-giving,” exclaimed Rick.

Cathy echoed Rick, adding, “It is definitely humbling to see such growth, but the only way we got here was God’s grace and a community of people around us. We have experienced a community of people who have contributed their time, gifts, and finances to walk with people wherever they are in their spiritual journey. We are forever grateful and humbled to be used in this way in Fort McMurray to help support our community spiritually during such uncertain times in our world.”

They acknowledge that community means people supporting each other as they live and grow together with a common interest.

“As Rick said, you get what you contribute to, so if you want change you be the change,” added Cathy. “If you want growth, you contribute innovative ideas to produce the growth. If you want family-friendly activities, you provide those, like when we partnered with Dunvegan’s Easter egg hunts and the Kings Kids free family skating events at MacIsland.”

Additional contributions include partnering with the Wood Buffalo Foodbank to fill a need in Fort Chip; offering the Lionheart Performing Arts Camp to help expose children to the arts; and partnering with others to open the District Recording Studio so artists no longer need to travel to Edmonton.

“Whatever your gifts and talents are, use them to improve our community and experience that sense of belonging and accomplishment that brings a fulfilling life,” encourages Cathy.

As for being recognized as YMM Builders, Rick describes it as “such a compliment as there have been so many others doing the same thing. We are happy to help where we can as so many have helped us along the way. We thank God for His grace on our lives and our family who always came alongside”

Cathy adds “We are honoured to be acknowledged and glad we have been able to contribute to such a great diverse community as Fort McMurray. We have seen so many examples of great community builders before us and look forward to what lies ahead.”

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