United Way of Central Alabama’s (UWCA’s) centennial year has been one for the books. In addition to the incredible turnout at our Centennial Celebration in June and our Forever United campaign that set a goal of raising the endowment fund to $100 million in honor of 100 years, we are continuing our tradition of service by embarking on commemorative community projects in each of the six counties we serve.
“United Way of Central Alabama turned 100 this year, and while we were planning what this year should look like, we asked ourselves, ‘What can we do to thank all these communities that have supported us?’” said Drew Langloh, President and CEO of UWCA. “We decided on parks that would bring communities together; and we decided to build these community parks in the ‘United Way-way,’ which is through service and volunteering.”
Consistent with United Way’s focus on community health and education, each park will have a pavilion designed to function as an outdoor classroom. Picnic tables, some of which volunteers constructed at the event in June, will be placed in each park, commemorating the centennial and fostering an engaging learning environment for years to come. Beyond this, each park will be customized based on community needs, with options such as soccer fields and pickleball courts being popular choices so far. Franklin Park in Tarrant (Jefferson County) broke ground first and was completed in September. Stephen’s Park in Montevallo (Shelby County) is also currently underway, with upcoming projects at the Municipal Complex in Ragland (St. Clair County), as well as in Blount, Walker and Chilton counties (specific locations to be determined).
Beyond installation, the goal of these parks is to create long-term partnerships. Rachael Upton, UWCA’s Director of Volunteer Engagement at United Way Hands On, said, “We are so thankful for our dedicated volunteers, donors and sponsors for their commitment to this project. We are excited to kick off the next 100 years of service with parks that will be true community assets and can be enjoyed for years to come.”
Annual clean-up and beautification, as well as potential expansions in the future, will create ongoing volunteer service opportunities within each community. We have some volunteer opportunities available now, with more to come as more parks break ground, so keep an eye out on www.uwca.org/100years/parks/ for the latest news and to learn about sponsorship opportunities.