While the pandemic has deprived everyone of a sense of normality, children and adolescents may be at the top of the list. Many are facing critical concerns such as learning loss, mental health issues and food insecurity.
Add to the list that our youth have not only missed out on milestone moments, but they’ve also missed out on fun. It’s essential to keep fighting for an environment where children can thrive. Luckily, Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Alabama (BGCCA) is turning the ship toward more positive statistics.
Every day, BGCCA invites hundreds of kids and teens into a welcoming, safe space intended to help them reach their greatest potential. Programming provides young people with free meals, help with schoolwork and opportunities for a bright future.
In 2020 alone, the clubs served 7,747 youth. Like other United Way of Central Alabama (UWCA) partner agencies, they came up with creative strategies to continue services through the pandemic. But it’s not a one-organization job.
Banking on a Better Future
UWCA affinity groups, including Women United, work to uplift their efforts. After a virtual Women United meeting this past spring, one member took the group’s mission and put it into action.
Lara Smith, senior vice president, mortgage investor management for Regions Bank, spearheaded an initiative for Regions associates to make up kits for the BGCCA to give out to kids. The packs included snacks, masks and a variety of supplies.
By leading these efforts, Lara demonstrated that she understands the extent to which UWCA agencies fight for the health, education and financial stability of their neighbors. It also opened the door to work with other civic-minded, proactive residents looking to bring about positive change in our community. Volunteerism is a key part of Regions’ focus on community engagement. Throughout each year, bank associates volunteer with a wide range of nonprofits working to strengthen communities.
“Opportunities to serve with a great organization and meet other women with the same type of calling and sense of purpose is important to me, and I try to participate when these types of opportunities come up,” said Smith. “It’s a great opportunity to understand the needs in our community and support an organization that works to bring the community together to meet those needs.”
Smith and her team completed the kits, delivered them in the pouring rain and made a difference in many children’s lives.
“It’s one of the things that I’ve loved doing because I get to see first-hand the agencies United Way supports,” says Smith. “I’m grateful to volunteer, and give through the United Way.”