“It is a milestone year for the goal going up to the four-million-dollar mark…and it takes everyone uniting to hit that next plateau of giving and being able to give back to our local community,” said Julie Mann, communications director of United Way of West Alabama.
Campaign Chairman Jordan Plaster played a big role in raising the goal for the year. As a child who was able to receive medical treatment from a United Way supported agency, Plaster had a personal connection that led him to push to help many more people in need.
“The United Way goal is set each year after reviewing the previous year’s grant requests from our partner agencies, looking at what nonprofits may be in the midst of a capital campaign, tallying the community impact grants awarded and forecasting any economic issues impacting West Alabama,” Mann said. “The need always goes up, so being able to meet our goal means we are able to keep up with the growing needs of people in West Alabama.”
The funds raised through the United Way target a myriad of issues that are localized to the West Alabama community. In addition to United Way’s own community programs, agencies such as the Red Cross, the Boys and Girls Club of West Alabama, Tuscaloosa’s One Place, and The Salvation Army provide resources for disaster relief, family support and counseling, disability support, and youth education and leadership.
“Out of all United Ways in Alabama, West Alabama raises the second highest amount,” Mann said. “Think about that—West Alabama. West Alabama is home to some of the poorest counties in our state. Perhaps that is why our community sees and understands the need to give back and help others. There are much larger and more prosperous regions that are not giving at this level.”
The United Way benefits tremendously each year by the donations and support not only of individuals, but the businesses that have deep ties within the community. Much of these efforts are led by employees who work together to make a significant impact for their own friends and neighbors.
“United Way’s community partners hold events that contribute to the overall United Way goal,” Mann said. “Hunt Refining hosts an annual golf tournament that raises a lot of money for their campaign. The University of Alabama held a kickoff party at the baseball field and fabulous celebration at Bryant-Denny. Tuscaloosa City Schools have a number of student-led opportunities that raise money while doing something fun, like a crazy hat day. Randall Reilly invites United Way to pump up the staff during their Monday morning meetings. Mercedes takes employees on tours of the agencies to get a first-hand look at the work they are doing.”
“Many companies have a speaker from an agency come and talk to the staff about how their money is helping others. Because one person, or one company, cannot do this alone, all of these events and fundraisers are instrumental in achieving success.”
United Way will officially announce the year’s fundraising total during a celebration luncheon on January 22. To find out more about UWWA’s programs, or show your support, visit uwwa.org.