“Throughout your life, especially when you become successful, do something for your fellow man.”
So said Garry Neil Drummond more than three decades ago, furthering a tradition of philanthropy and altruism within the Drummond family that spans generations and is now recognized with United Way of Central Alabama’s 2019 Tocqueville Society Award. The Tocqueville Society Award has been presented annually since 1987 to an individual or family who has rendered outstanding volunteer service, as well as financial support, within our community. Recipients of the award are true philanthropists who exhibit the deep concern for, and the power to make a meaningful impact on, our community’s most pressing issues.
The Drummonds have epitomized this commitment to service for more than a century ever since they’ve called Central Alabama, and specifically Walker County, home. Family member Krystal Drummond, who serves as Director of Employee and Community Engagement at Drummond Company, attributes this tradition to lessons learned and passed down through generations.
“While each of us has our own personal reasons for giving back, I think we inherited a love and appreciation for helping others from my great-grandparents Heman and Elza Drummond – or as we call them, ‘Papa Heman’ and ‘Mama Drummond.’ They were both orphaned as young children and learned by experience that life can be tough and that the kindness of neighbors and strangers alike is needed for a community to grow.”
Papa Heman and Mama Drummond’s philanthropic nature influenced not only the family but also the family business. Drummond Company, now a multi-billion-dollar international coal mining company, grew from a truly humble start with Heman, himself, mining family land and hauling coal on the backs of mules he used as collateral for a $300-business loan. However, business was never more important than community, said Patrick Drummond, one of Papa Heman’s many grandchildren.
“Even when creditors were knocking on his door, Heman would take coal – coal he could’ve sold – and instead give it to neighbors in need to help them get through the winter,” said Patrick.
More than 80 years later, Drummond Company is a powerful force in American industry and our community’s philanthropic scene alike. In addition to the family’s personal commitment to United Way of Central Alabama (UWCA), Drummond Company consistently ranks among UWCA’s top 10 corporate donors. And there’s a significant trickle-down effect: Drummond employees have worked on a variety of volunteer projects through the years, most recently including a new playground for Tarrant Intermediate School.
When accepting the award, Patrick said the family was humbled.
“Papa Heman and Mama Drummond really instilled the importance of giving and of affecting change locally, and we continue to pass that down to our younger generations,” he said. “We appreciate United Way being a good steward of donations and making it easy to positively impact on the community.”
Krystal, who has just finished her fifth year as campaign coordinator for the company and now serves on the UWCA Board of Directors, notes that United Way’s impact, along with its accountability, make the organization easy to be passionate about.
“UWCA represents a trusted way to help those in need in our community,” she said. “Every donation is used wisely and efficiently. Whether it’s the long-reaching broad strategies and partnerships of Bold Goals, or specific programs, direct services and partner agencies, UWCA continues to evolve, evaluate needs and serve those who need it most.
“We’re grateful to have been blessed with the opportunity to support our neighbors through donations to United Way over so many years and generations.”