“Let’s just do it” is our first United Way SUPERhero’s favourite saying. This hero doesn’t see barriers—only opportunities – which has been evident in all aspects of his life from the shop floor to the classroom at TRU. As someone who received a “hand up” himself early in life, this charismatic SUPERhero is one of the most inspiring storytellers we know and always encouraging others to give back in whatever way they can.
“When I look back now, I look at opportunities that I received. At the age of 15 I had gone to work because I just couldn’t get the academic side of things at school. It could have been that there were 8 children in our family; it could have been a lack of food… I can just speculate”.
“Someone saw something in me… I had been given an apprenticeship which really, to be skilled, it was like gold. What I had were people who saw something in me personally. It was a massive opportunity for me and I think that is where it all stems from.”
McCarthy is quick to point out that no hero can work alone; speaking of the infamous campaign meals at Highland Valley Copper he had a hand in spearheading, as well as the United Steelworkers shower project in 2011 for ASK Wellness. Regardless of the project or situation, his passion and his connection with people and United Way has always run deep.
“You have to know there are other people out there with the same vision… that there are people out there willing to be part of this success story. You can’t do it on your own….”
He has passed his love for his craft of welding to the next generation in his “retirement” through teaching at Thompson Rivers University (TRU) and also volunteering his time during the summer to teach welding camps for at-risk youth in our region. As his way of paying it forward, his goal is now to see skills in other people.
“Now when I see people either marginalized at different agencies or at TRU, all they are asking for is a hand up and to be accepted. You can give them that, but you also need to give them the opportunity to practice that skill… that’s the next level. Once you believe in people, they’ll believe in themselves”
When asked who he thinks qualifies as a hero, McCarthy mentions those who many would see as an underdog as his candidate.
“Hero status for me is someone who has come out of a scene where they’ve hit rock bottom and have been on the edge of losing everything, but they’ve come back from it. Someone who has really turned their life around with all the obstacles against them.”
United Way heroes are people passionate about helping others and dedicated to making their community a better place – and our region is filled with them. Our SUPERhero feature is about unmasking these heroes in our midst and recognizing their incredible contributions.
Click here to nominate your favourite, local community SUPERhero!