In just four short months, the Facebook page titled ‘Oilfield Dads’ has journeyed from being merely an idea in one man’s mind to a collaborative community created and cultivated by one Sylvan Laker .
With nearly 6,500 members in the group, Miller says he is blown away by the sheer volume of members in the group and can’t believe the growth he has witnessed in such a short amount of time.
“I noticed oil was starting to go down. I have a lot of connections and credentials from working in the oilfield for so long but still it was starting to get pretty bleak,” remembers Miller of the time leading up to creation of Oilfield Dads. I was sitting at home waiting for work and I figured I would start a Facebook page, as a means of networking to see what’s going on out there.”
It quickly appeared there were many more men and women who identified with what Miller was posting to the page. He asked those who had joined the group to share their stories of their time working in the oilfield.
Men and women from across Canada began sharing their journeys, detailing the ups and downs of patch life.
Men told stories of months on end being away from their wives and children – missing years of their lives just to provide for them.Women told of long, lonely nights hoping their men were safe.
Given the time frame in which Miller started Oilfield Dads, many posts emerged of the hardships those in the oilfield were facing such as unemployment or working as a labourer to make ends meet after having spent years working as a foreman.
Others shared how they were grateful for not having been affected and sent out support to their oilfield brethren.
Miller says he tries to keep the group as positive as possible. He explained how he has spent hours of his life reading messages from members of the group.
“I’ve received so many messages saying how the group has helped people,” said Miller. “People say how they’ve been on the brink of disaster many times but always made it through – then you get the messages from people saying how their wives and families have left them, they’ve been contemplating their lives, etc. and how the group has helped them through it.”
He tries to remind people to stay positive despite everything they have endured.
“I had one person say to me they’ve lost their truck, house, family, everything – I said to him that every morning I wake up and read a book for thirty minutes or listen to 30 minutes of audio on something positive,” he recalled of the conversation. “You can’t sit there all day and be miserable making the people around you miserable, you need to find something meaningful to help you carry on.
“It won’t help you get back everything you lost, but it has the power to help you change your mindset.”
Since starting the group, Miller has witnessed the growth of a community and stated the love shown in the group often sets him aback. It became quite clear to Miller how much the group meant to some of the members when they hosted an Oilfield DadsChristmas party – inviting all those who either had no where else to go, couldn’t afford to have their own dinner or who just wished to join them.
“To the people who came, I could see it in their faces it meant so much to them,” said Miller, who paid for the party using his own money from their savings.
Following the party, Miller knew he needed to do more to help promote the kinship of the group and has since launched a companion website for the group, www.oilfielddads.com.
Currently the website hosts Miller’s latest creation, a series of videos explaining what Oilfield Dads means to him and why he created it.
“Everyone is fighting a battle. A battle of which you know nothing about,” begins Miller in the series. “May it be physical, mental,emotional or even financial – everyone has struggles, everyone has something weighing on their mind, whether it’s trying to find work, or keeping their families together.”
Miller plans to make the website into a centralized hub to support those in the group. He dreams the website will become a place where oilfield companies can post jobs in a centralized location, having members upload video resumes for employers to view.
“This year I want to take it a step further and invest in ourselves as a people,” said Miller. “I want to know that what I am building is not just known as a great culture but a business for creating opportunities for those willing to do the work.”
He is currently working with a developer to finalize how the website will function but asks supporters to be patient as he feels it will be a well utilized tool once it is finalized.
He wished to thank everyone who has joined the group so far and encourages those who have yet to visit the group to please do so.