Community & Current Events

2014 Me to We Winner: Dave Cuddy

2014 Me to We Winner: Dave Cuddy

Photography by Boomer Jerritt Image by: Photography by Boomer Jerritt Author: Canadian Living

Community & Current Events

2014 Me to We Winner: Dave Cuddy

Name: Dave Cuddy
Where he's from: Campbell River, B.C.
Award: educator
Contribution: He founded Education Is Power, an organization that raises money for secondary and post- secondary students in both Kenya and Tanzania.
Where would I like to be in 10 years: “I’d like to change Education Is Power from a small-scale project into a larger nonprofit organization that will have a wider impact in Africa and Canada."

An outdoor educator who teaches personal development and stewardship, often in wilderness settings, Dave Cuddy isn’t afraid to venture to places that are, for many of us, remote. I picture him in a cabin with a wood stove, heating coffee in a tin pot—but maybe that’s just my imagination.

The Canadian lad had never travelled outside North America until the age of 23, when he went to Tanzania with Canada World Youth, an international volunteer program. What he saw while abroad blew him away. When he asked local kids about education, he was told, matter-of-factly: “Oh, I can’t go to school. My family doesn’t have enough money."

He decided to take action and founded an organization, Education Is Power, that raises funds for 35 Kenyan and Tanzanian students who might not be able to attend high school and university otherwise. The money has some strings attached: Each recipient must give back in some way, whether it be helping tutor a younger student, cleaning up the community or organizing a fundraising event.

One might think charity is the province of wealthy folk, but that stereotype does not apply to Dave, who supplements his outdoor education income with tree planting. Philanthropy has taken so much from Dave, it even threatened his livelihood. “There were times that I questioned whether I could keep going," he says. At one point, even his parents, concerned for his welfare, asked whether he might be taking on too much, whether the volunteer work, while good for others, might be overwhelming him.

But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and Dave soldiered on, learning a few things along the way: “public speaking for sure," says the soft-spoken Dave, “but also computer skills. I learned how to do financial plans, spreadsheets. I also honed my writing, leadership and organization skills."

Just as long as he can find somewhere in his cabin to plug the computer in.

For more inspirational pieces like Dave's, check out our 2014 Me to We Awards.

This story was originally titled "Dave Cuddy" in the October 2014 issue.

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Community & Current Events

2014 Me to We Winner: Dave Cuddy