September 2, 2015 | View on Facebook
“My earliest memories are of my parents going door to door collecting money for the United Way of Central Alabama,” says Nancy Goedecke, CEO of Mayer Electric Company. “They taught by example, and I learned early on how important it is to give back to your community.”
Now serving as the 2015 campaign chairman for United Way of Central Alabama (UWCA), Nancy works tirelessly to encourage the Central Alabama community to give back, just as her parents did many years ago and her family continues to do.
“The reasons people give are many,” she explains. “We are fortunate to live in a region where giving is a big part of who we are as a community. This year, United Way asks everyone to think about the reasons behind their giving.”
“The community has a long held trust in the United Way of Central Alabama,” says Goedecke. “It is a point of pride that 91 cents out of every donated dollar goes into agency, programs, and initiative support.”
Goedecke explains that most people she talks with who aren’t already giving to United Way explain the reason is because they are never asked. This year, Goedecke hopes to change that by inspiring Birmingham to think about their “Why I Give” reason and inspire others to greater generosity.
“I believe most people could find a dollar each week to help someone get back on their feet,” says Goedecke. “There are so many needs in this community, and United Way is the best way to give because it impacts so many people.”
As for Goedecke, she finds a new reason for giving each time she witnesses her contributions bettering the life of someone in need.
“Each experience with United Way has enlightened me and has made me proud to play an active part of this mission,” she says, smiling. “I truly can say I have gotten back more than I have given.”
What is your reason for giving? Share your #WhyIGive moment about helping or being helped by United Way of Central Alabama in the comments below.
If you’d like to donate to UWCA for the first time, you may do so directly on its website at www.uwca.org/donate-now/
September 9, 2015 | View on Facebook
“I had a secret, and the secret was that I couldn’t read,” says Regina Boglin, who had lived most of her life as one of the 92,000 functionally illiterate adults in Central Alabama. “No one knew—not even my family.”
Tired of keeping a lifelong secret from even those closest to her, Boglin made a huge decision three years ago that forever changed her life; she reached out to United Way of Central Alabama and The Literacy Council to learn how to read.
For 92 years, United Way has brought people together to help one another and improve our community as a whole. When the United Way team met Boglin, they immediately connected her with The Literacy Council, a local nonprofit that taught Boglin the fundamental skill of reading she so desired.
“The first book I read was ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’,” says Boglin, who shares that upon finishing the book, her reading tutors took her to see a play performance of the story. “Atticus Finch told his daughter, ‘You need to look at things from another perspective.’ I look at life through another perspective now that I can read.”
For Boglin, learning to read has opened up a new world for her. She says she started listening more, caring more about herself, and wanting more out of life. Once the quiet girl sitting in the back of the class, she now confidently speaks in front of rooms of people about her journey with United Way.
Boglin now gives back to the agency that gave her so much—you’ve just read her personal #WhyIGive story. What is yours? If you’d like to support United Way and the 80+ nonprofits it supports, you may donate directly on its website at www.uwca.org/donate-now/
Says Boglin, “I don’t take lightly all the ways United Way has helped me. There’s a certain amount of joy I feel now, and you can’t put a price on that.”
September 16, 2015 | View on Facebook
“I’m not who most people think of when they think of helping someone through United Way,” says Philip Richards, a local insurance agent. “I think that shows it can happen to anyone.”
Though he had given to United Way for years, Christmas in 1994 found Richards on the receiving end of United Way’s generosity.
“We adopted a little girl, Elizabeth Anne,” says Richards. “You couldn’t have scripted a better Hollywood movie than the day my wife and I took her home.”
When Elizabeth Anne was a few months old, however, Richards and his wife Gina realized their little girl wasn’t meeting her developmental milestones. That’s when the storybook future they had envisioned forever changed.
“She cannot walk, talk, or feed herself,” says Richards of Elizabeth Anne, who is now 21 years old. “But she can understand every word you say. She lights up the room with her smile.”
As soon as he could, Richards enrolled Elizabeth Anne in The Arc of Walker County, a United Way of Central Alabama agency that provides early intervention programs for children and adults with developmental disabilities.
“Before she started going to The Arc, Elizabeth Anne couldn’t even sit up,” explains Richards. “She spent time working with The Arc, and one day she sat up by herself. From there she started making progress—little things that most people take for granted were big steps for Elizabeth Anne.”
“If you get the chance to meet the agencies United Way works with, it’s very clear the impact they have on the people they’re serving,” he says. “And my daughter and I have experienced that firsthand.”
Because of the money that the Central Alabama community has allocated to our local chapter of United Way—last year more than $31,500,000 was distributed to support agencies and programs—people like the Richards family can gain access to the support they need.
“I’ve always given to United Way—that’s the way I was raised,” says Richards. “But I would have never imagined that my family would need United Way.”
As for Richards, hearing him speak about his love for his daughter can’t help but bring a smile your face. When told that Elizabeth Anne is lucky to have him and Gina for parents, his response was simple and heartfelt: “We’re the ones who got lucky.” #WhyIGive
September 30, 2015 | View on Facebook
Known affectionately as Birmingham’s oldest nonprofit you’ve never heard of, Workshops, Inc. has been transforming the employment landscape for those with disabilities since 1900.
“At any given time, the unemployment rate for people with disabilities who want to work is more than double the unemployment rate for all people,” explains Susan Crow, Executive Director of Workshops. “We help people prepare for and find employment.”
Workshops offers four distinct programs that teach everything from skill development, to interview training, to résumé preparation in order to give people with disabilities the best opportunity to succeed as capable, independent employees.
Workshops has been able to thrive for more than 115 years due in part to allocations from United Way of Central Alabama, for which it has been an agency since the 1950s.
“United Way donations account for about one third of our budget at Workshops, Inc., so it is fair to say that United Way has furthered our mission in every possible way,” says Crow. “Knowing that United Way is there allows us to take on big challenges with an added degree of security.”
One particularly touching success story from Workshops’ programming involves consumer “Roger,” whom the nonprofit recently helped earn a job at a local Publix grocery store.
“Just two weeks ago, Roger came into Workshops before his shift,” Crow says. “He was wearing his Publix uniform and proudly sharing the news of his new job with staff and fellow consumers.”
Crow explains that Roger then pulled her aside and told her that his store was participating in the United Way campaign, and—knowing they helped him find his job—he was going to join the workplace campaign.
“He signed a pledge form to give $25 a month, a very generous gift for a person with low income,” says Crow. “Our goal for each person we serve is for them to be able to give back to the community, but rarely does a person transition from recipient to donor so quickly.”
Why give to United Way and the 80 agencies and initiatives it supports? Because 91 cents out of every dollar donated to United Way supports vital community programs. To donate, visit the United Way of Central Alabama website at http://www.uwca.org/donate-now/
For Crow and Workshops, Inc., being able to help Birmingham community members with disabilities find jobs and contribute to our city’s growth is a valuable experience that benefits everyone.
“The people we serve are truly grateful to have a job, an opportunity that many of us take for granted,” she says. “Work brings so much more than an income—it provides a sense of community, an identity, an opportunity to give back, and something to be proud of. Everyone deserves these opportunities.” #WhyIGive