Chilton County Partner Agencies Get Top-Notch Training, in Their Own Backyard

Partner agencies from all over United Way of Central Alabama’s six-county footprint recently came out to a comprehensive training session in Clanton.

In the third collaborative training session this year, representatives of Central Alabama nonprofits learned to sharpen their skills in a variety of areas this week at Jefferson State Community College’s Clanton campus.

Jana Zuelzke, Executive Director of Butterfly Bridge, a Clanton-based United Way of Central Alabama (UWCA) partner agency which focuses on children’s advocacy, said that to access training opportunities previously, she would have to travel far from her home county.

“This has been huge to be able to have it [the training] right here and have other people from other counties come to Chilton County,” Zuelzke said. “Through the training, I met some different people, too, that I may not otherwise have been in a training with.”

The learning series is a collaboration between UWCA and Auburn University’s Cary Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies. So far, training days have been held in Jefferson, Walker and now Chilton counties, with two more days scheduled for next year in St. Clair and Shelby counties, all of which are part of UWCA’s six-county service area.

During the Chilton County session, nonprofit leaders and staff heard from speakers in four different areas of expertise: strategic planning, nonprofit accounting basics, fundraising essentials and board responsibilities.

Kyle Bradberry, United Way’s Grant Controller, and Jessica Hooper, Director of Major Gifts at UWCA, spoke alongside Danielle Dunbar, Executive Director of the Alabama Association of Nonprofits, and Rachel Puckett, a consultant with Clarus Consulting Group.

Zuelzke said she came in hoping to learn more about nonprofit accounting and left feeling better about her work.

“There were a lot of questions I had that got answered. It also made me feel like we were on the right track with accounting, but I learned some new things, as well,” Zuelzke said. “I have a great bookkeeper who helps us out, but I just wanted to make sure we were on the right track related to our audits.”

Tay Knight, Executive Director of Family Sunshine Center, another UWCA partner agency which serves victims of domestic and other types of violence, agreed, saying she found insight in Hooper’s comments about how to keep board members and volunteers engaged year-round.

“If you look around at your event, or at the end of your planning for your event, and it looks like a big staff meeting, no board members or volunteers present, then you’ve probably worn them all out,” Knight said.

Knight said that having the training session in Chilton County, which is the latest addition to UWCA’s six-county footprint, helps build confidence and visibility among local nonprofits. “It makes you feel like you are just as important as a big nonprofit in Shelby or Jefferson County to know that they would make it available to you in your backyard,” she said.

Mike King, United Way’s Campaign Chair in Chilton County and Executive Director of Raleigh’s Place, a foster care ministry in Clanton, said the training series was the first of its kind in the county. Having started as Executive Director just this year, King said he is looking for all the training he can get.

“Until now, there’s been nothing here to train our nonprofits, and we’ve got some great ones,” King said. “I know that they could use some of this info.”

To learn more about United Way of Central Alabama and its 79 partner agencies, visit