“I don’t feel legendary at all,” says Brian Tansy, President, ATU Local 741 and Chair of Labour United. “I am the man my mother raised me to be. I feel like the most normal, average person.”
Learning to be humble started at a young age. As one of seven kids raised by a single mom, Brian quickly learned that everyone has something to give.
“My mom kept us all very grounded,” he says. “Don’t think too much of yourself, and don’t sit around doing nothing, give back. My mother drilled that into all us kids.”
It’s a lesson he carries with him today.
As Chair of Labour United, a group of volunteers from unionized workplaces working in partnership with United Way Elgin Middlesex, Brian’s goal is to provide opportunities for employees from across Labour to give back.
“United Way has the power to connect us as a caring community,” he says. “If everybody did something little, the big things would take care of themselves.”
Brian’s first big project as Chair is Labour Gives Back. This year, the committee is renovating two washroom complexes at Stevenson Children’s Camp, an overnight camp attended by almost 300 kids every summer, most from families who can’t pay.
For Brian, the project is personal. He remembers his own childhood experience at a mission camp in Indiana, living in a cabin in the woods, eating three meals a day and waterskiing for the first time. The experience was transformative.
“Camp is a life-changing experience for young kids who don’t have a chance but are given one,” he says. “We’re building citizens, if you think about it.”
Labour United tackles a different initiative for a United Way funded agency every year. The Stevenson Camp project is in the planning stages and the committee is seeking donations of materials, money, skilled labour and time. The renovation happens this spring, just in time for summer camp.
“It comes down to this: When I die what am I remembered for? A nice house, a nice car, vacations? Or because I influenced people’s lives?” Brian says philosophically.
“Influencing people’s lives is a better thing because that reaches forever. My house is falling apart as we speak.”