Board Member Stories: Life can suddenly change
Travis Bryson knows how life can change in an instant.
In the 1980’s, he was 10 years old and living on an acreage just outside Dawson Creek. What seemed like a secure and happy life was turned upside down when mortgage interest rates rose as high as 21% and his parents were unable to make their monthly payments. It wasn’t long before the bank seized the family home and they found themselves rebuilding their lives.
“The cost of living became exorbitant, but we were lucky enough to find an apartment and to have a home. My parents worked hard and there was never a day that I went hungry, so I feel like I was very lucky and privileged, but it could have been a much more difficult situation,” acknowledges Travis.
As Travis grew-up, his parents instilled in him strong values about giving back. In 2008, when he landed in Nanaimo as a Chartered Professional Accountant, he wanted to find a way to contribute to his new community.
“At that time, United Way found me as much as I found them,” recalls Travis. “But really, it’s an organization that has a large impact and helps improve people’s quality of life, so it matched my values for how I wanted to give back.”
Whether helping children, families or seniors, Travis believes that increasing a person’s quality of life, even for one day, is valuable work.
“I want to make the years that a person has, better. I’m driven by that and that’s what United Way focuses on,” explains Travis.
“It’s also one of the better structurally run organizations in the community, and where I think my time is well spent to move things forward.”
He now acts as Treasurer for the United Way Central & Northern Vancouver Island Board of Directors, ensuring that donations are invested in programs that benefit local communities.
“At United Way, we make the most informed decisions we can for each community and what it needs. There is constant work being done out in the communities, listening and figuring out what they need. Decisions aren’t made without research, data and participation in local conversations,” affirms Travis.
Travis is quick to admit that even with the hardship he experienced in his youth, he is extremely privileged. Raised in a home with loving parents, who were advocates for continued education, he has every advantage in life. It’s his acknowledgement of that privilege that pushes him to give back through United Way.
“I’ve been very lucky in life and so I want to do what I can to use that privilege to help others,” says Travis. “I believe in the golden rule: treat others as you would want to be treated.”