2011 Community Circle Awards


A Letter from the President

Founded in 1922 the Junior League of Birmingham trains women to be inspired volunteers committed to improving their community through service, partnership and shared solutions. We believe that giving back through volunteer service is a key part of being a responsible member of a thriving community. The members of the Junior League of Birmingham live in over 114 zip codes around our city. Seventy-five percent of our members work outside the home and 40 percent serve on civic boards in the community. We are one of the largest female volunteer organizations in the state of Alabama.

For the past 89 years, members of the Junior League have been providing human capital and financial funding to build a better Birmingham. Our tools are commitment, compassion, problem solving skills and enthusiasm. What makes the Junior League such a unique organization is that we provide both monetary support and trained volunteers. The 50,000+ hours of annual service provided by the Junior League’s 1,000 trained volunteers combines with our donors’ funding to amplify the effect of their contribution, creating partnerships that strengthen our community.

The Junior League believes that being actively involved in the health, education, crisis intervention and financial stability of women and children strengthens and improves the quality of the lives of hundreds of families in our city each year. We support projects and initiatives that address issues such as increasing literacy, improving healthcare, curbing domestic violence, improving school readiness, and reducing homelessness. We are particularly proud of the role we have played in initiating and cultivating many initiatives that have since become well-established and sustainable non-profits in our community.

Women join the Junior League because they want to make a difference in the lives of people around them. They are committed to the League’s mission of voluntarism, developing the potential of women and improving the community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. The Junior League of Birmingham reaches out to women of all races, religions and national origins who demonstrate an interest in and commitment to voluntarism.

We are particularly proud of the role we have played in initiating and cultivating many initiatives that have since become well-established and sustainable non-profits in our community.     In the fall of 2010, the Junior League of Birmingham solicited submissions from the community for the inaugural Community Circle Awards program, as a way to honor the work of our partners.  From an impressive list of over 40 nominees, the selection committee, chaired by Leadership Birmingham Executive Director Ann Florie, determined a list of nine exceptional finalists.  The Junior League of Birmingham is pleased to honor them for their outstanding service, and we are delighted to present them in the pages that follow.

Please join us in congratulating the finalists for this year’s Community Circle Awards, and make plans to attend The Gala. Winners of the Community Circle Awards will be announced at The Gala on April 1, 2011, at the Cahaba Grand Conference Center.  Ticket information is available on the Junior League’s website at www.jlbonline.com.

I also want to thank Taylor Davis and Morgan Cook, chairs of this inaugural event, and their committees for their dedication to creating a wonderful evening focused on the best practice examples of collaboration and innovation designed to improve our community.

Believe in the difference you can make in our community!

Liz Edwards

2010-2011 President

Junior League of Birmingham

Community Circle Awards Finalists

Front: Greg Fisher. Nita Thompson Beth Scott Back. India Bailey. Sarah Pikal

Cornerstone Schools
of Alabama

Cornerstone Schools of Alabama, created in 1993, has played an integral role in not only the education of young children in grades K4-8, but also the revitalization of Woodlawn, one of Birmingham’s oldest communities.  The mission of Cornerstone is “to provide a Christ-centered, nurturing learning environment and a supportive and challenging academic program for Birmingham’s urban children.” In support of this mission, Cornerstone has exceedingly high expectations for not only its students but also their parents, who are active participants in their children’s education through minimal tuition payments and required volunteer opportunities. The spirit of voluntarism is evident throughout the school as board members, community volunteers, and organizations provide funds as well as hands-on service to the school. Cornerstone believes and acts on the principle that “every student can be successful,” and provides a model for learning and participation which can replicated in other disadvantaged areas with the intent of ending pervasive cycles of poverty.

Jim Ray (Executive Director of Children’s Harbor), Carla Greene (Activities Director), and Weesa Matthews (Board Member).

Children’s Harbor Family Center, Children’s Hospital

Dedicated in 2001 by Ben and Luanne Russell, Children’s Harbor Family Center provides free and confidential counseling, education, recreation, respite and support services to children with long-term serious illnesses as well as to their families. From the beginning, the mission of the agency has been simple: strengthening children and their families as they cope with the demands of their diagnosis and treatment. Children’s Harbor Family Center  maintains the belief that by creating a team of parents, professional and support staff, volunteers and community organizations, they are best able to help these sick children and families “get back on their feet,” and maintain as much of their pre-diagnosis lifestyles  as possible.  To meet the diverse needs of children and families suffering from different types of illnesses, the center created a family–oriented approach to service, and has become a model for similar programs at children’s hospitals across the country.

Glenwood’s CEO Lee Yount, Board member Nancy Smith, Director of Resource Development Rebecca Sibley, and Board member Kacy Mitchell.

Glenwood Autism and Behavioral Health Center

Glenwood began in 1973 as a private, nonprofit organization. From the beginning, its mission was clear: form an agency devoted to providing treatment, education, and research in the area of mental health. A small group of community leaders recognized a need to develop “a place for special people” who had largely been ignored by the public educational system. This place would combine treatment and educational services for children with autism and mental health disorders who often were excluded from other programs. Almost immediately, the demand for services soared. Since 1974, new innovative programs have been developed to serve the growing client base including the establishment of a residential treatment facilities for adults and children. Today, Glenwood has grown to a campus of several facilities located on 363 acres in southeast Jefferson County. This organization has a staff more than 300 respected clinicians, medical and educational teams, direct care staff, administration and support personnel touching the lives of more than 7,000 individuals in our community and Alabama. Glenwood has distinguished itself as a leader in autism and behavioral health programming and will continue advocating for excellence in client care.

Back: Sarah Louise Smith, Hannah Palmer, Kathleen Shelton, Stephen Black, Ann Watford. Front: Karlene Walker, Miguel Morales.

Impact Alabama: SaveFirst Initiative

Impact Alabama was created in 2004 as the first non-profit dedicated to developing and implementing substantive service-learning projects among more than 25 colleges and universities across Alabama. The SaveFirst Initiative was designed by Impact Alabama to train college students to provide free tax preparation, financial literacy information and opportunities for savings and economic improvement for low-income families.  In its fourth year, the program trained over 500 students and helped over 3,500 low-income families claim almost $7 million dollars in tax refunds. Additionally, the program saved these families over $1 million dollars in commercial tax preparation fees while providing helpful alternatives to abusive practices such as payday loan schemes, check cashing operations and predatory lending institutions that target low income individuals and dramatically erode their earnings.

SaveFirst has grown into the largest and most successful volunteer tax preparation program in the state and continues to actively promote Impact Alabama’s mission: to build an Alabama whose young citizens understand, appreciate, and engage actively in civic and public life—contributing their diverse talents to solve local and state problems, influence public policy, and pursue the common good.

Karen Peterlin, Executive Director, Mandla Moyo, Community Outreach Coordination, Kelly Franks, Board Member.

Kid One Transport

Founded in 1997, Kid One Transport was created to transport children and expectant mothers to necessary childcare services. Throughout Alabama, thousands of children and expectant mothers are unable to receive critical health care due to a temporary or permanent lack of transportation. Kid One is the only non-profit in Alabama targeting this specific population, and one of only a handful in the United States to offer these services. Kid One vans shuttle children and mothers to well-child, sick and prenatal doctor visits. The service enables sick children and expectant mothers to get to their appointments without an adult having to take time off from work. The transportation provided to these families reduces the number of avoidable emergency room visits, thus saving patients, health care providers and facilities from significantly higher costs.

Currently, Kid One operates a fleet of 14 vehicles serving 30 counties in central and north central Alabama.  Its important role in the community was underscored by the recent economic downturn during which the number of patients served by Kid One drastically increased. Rooted in their commitment to removing transportation as a barrier to quality healthcare, Kid One ultimately seeks to expand into every county in the state of Alabama.

Tim Ritchie, President and CEO, McWane Science Center and Margaret Porter, 25–year volunteer and advocate for McWane Science Center

Margaret Porter, McWane Science Center

At the heart of Birmingham’s McWane Science Center stands its most faithful volunteer and advocate, Margaret Porter. Years ago, while attending a PTO meeting at a school in rural Alabama, Margaret met a little boy who wanted to be a paleontologist. The boy’s mother confided in Margaret that she feared that her son was stuck in a town and in a school system that could not provide the resources he needed to realize his dream.

This conversation reinforced in Margaret the vision of a science center designed to be an educational resource to schools and families throughout the state of Alabama. Margaret’s commitment to that vision led her to develop the innovative public/private partnership between the Red Mountain Museum and Discovery Place which would ultimately become the McWane Science Center, opening in 1998.   Margaret volunteered as the McWane Science Center board chairman for five years, during which time the institution was able to garner over $45 million in funding from city, county, state, and federal sources, as well as individual and corporate contributions.

The McWane Science Center’s stated mission is “to change lives through science and wonder”, and the successful implementation of this vision is, in part, attributable to Margaret’s creativity and          advocacy and leadership. Thirteen years after its inception there is no doubt this institution is living up to Margaret Porter’s dream as it inspires future generations of engineers, doctors, scientists, teachers and leaders.

Front) Drew Langloh, Brooke Burgess (Back) Amber McKinstry, Beth Johns

Success By 6

In an attempt to improve the health and well being of Alabama’s youngest citizens, the United Way of Central Alabama started the Success by Six program in 2003. The program addresses school readiness in underserved communities of Jefferson, Blount, Shelby, St. Clair and Walker counties by providing to local child care centers a high quality, results-oriented program. The United Way typically provides selected centers with teacher training, parent education, curriculum, classroom furniture, books and developmental and health screenings for a three year period. Upon completion of the three year tenure, active centers are transitioned to sustaining centers, and new early learning sites are added each year. Since 2003, the program has grown from 90 to 450 students, and improvement has been measured through an increase in the percentage of students qualified as kindergarten ready. The lasting impact of the program may also by measured by the program’s commitment to changing the school and teachers as well as working with students. Teacher training and technical assistance provided by program specialists improves the entire child care center beyond the individual classroom, and prepares the facility to equip future students for kindergarten.

(Front, from left) Caroline Pernell, Jennifer Caraway and Suzanne Durham. Back row: Amanda Carmichael, DeShunn Wilkerson

YWCA of Central Alabama

Throughout its century long history, the YWCA of Central Alabama has strived to create a caring community, acting as a place of refuge for individuals affected by domestic violence. In partnership with other organizations, the YWCA offers a network of programs designed to provide safe haven and critical services for victims and increase community awareness of the issues related to domestic violence. In 1986, the Family Violence Shelter became a program of the YWCA that has expanded to include a homeless day care center to serve the children living in the shelter, after school tutoring, transitional housing, court advocates, victim support groups and, in 1994, Children in Crisis, a program for children who have witnessed domestic violence. This broad range of services available to victims and their families is the result of deliberate  efforts by the YWCA to partner with individuals, civic groups, local governments, as well as the legal profession and law enforcement. The YWCA’s innovative model has served as a resource for other YWCAs and domestic violence shelters, and in 2009, provided the foundation for the opening of a new YWCA shelter in St. Clair County.

Back row, from left, Alexis McLean Spokes, Program Officer, Emily Hess Levine, Board Member, Lindsey Tanner, Dianne Mooney. Front row, from left, Lisa Engel, Board Member, Donna Dearman Smith, Board President, Judith Crittenden, Board Member, Lin Carleen, Founder

Voices Against Violence, The Women’s Fund

Voices Against Violence is an initiative created in 2005 by The Women’s Fund, a component of the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham.  Founded as a five–year initiative,      Voices Against Violence brought together a group of women attorneys with the purpose of raising funds designated to address the core issues of domestic violence. These funds have had significant impact, including the establishment of the first domestic violence court for the Birmingham municipal court, a  domestic violence education program for workplaces and schools, and improved collaboration between agencies. The success of this initiative has been astounding. The new domestic court has cleared a backlog of 800 domestic violence cases. Twelve corporations have instituted domestic violence safety policies in the workplace, and thirty agencies have joined the Jefferson County Coordinated Community Response team. As the campaign completes its fifth and final year, stakeholders will evaluate the program and propose methods for sharing this innovative and collaborative model for addressing domestic violence with other communities.

2 Responses to “2011 Community Circle Awards”

  1. C. Pernell is a genius in character., We are proud of her and the YWCA.

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