On a recent Tuesday night, donors, volunteers, partner agency leaders, United Way of Central Alabama (UWCA) staff and the 2023 Loaned Executives packed out the ballroom at Regions Field to celebrate raising more than $38 million to fund vital programs and services that help people in need and make our community stronger.
The official total was $38,613,100, more than $1.5 million past UWCA’s initial goal, said Drew Langloh, President and CEO of UWCA.
“It is exciting to see so many wonderful people here tonight to help us celebrate the conclusion of — not just our 2023 campaign — but our 100th year as an organization. Thank you for being part of this incredible journey,” said Langloh, moments before the total was revealed. “Your unwavering support, dedication and commitment have been the driving force behind our success.”
During the historic event capping the annual campaign, more than 200 attendees, including Jefferson County District Attorney Danny Carr and Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin, celebrated more than simply the raising of the funds.
Dr. Dow Briggs, Executive Vice President of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama and Chair of the 2023 campaign, said the funds will go toward supporting the work of countless individuals in Central Alabama who ensure the needs of residents are met.
“This was all through a combination of partnerships from all across our six-county area, with each gift being important and greatly appreciated,” Briggs said. “We celebrate these results, recognizing these dollars raised represent real people, individuals and families with real needs, which will be touched by your commitment and support.”
The money represents the changing of lives, said Tracey Morant Adams, Ph.D. of Renasant Bank, who served as Chair of the Community Impact Committee throughout the campaign.
“It is not just about the numbers. It is about the lives, the lives we will touch, the futures we will shape and the communities we will strengthen together, as we ignite possibilities, create opportunity and uplift our neighbors in need,” Morant Adams said. “Every allocation is a step towards building a better, brighter tomorrow.”
Among the numerous people recognized through the course of the evening were individuals on UWCA’s Visiting Allocation Team, who help evaluate where and how campaign funds are spent, as well as members of the UWCA Board of Directors, partner agencies and Loaned Executives, who served as the primary fundraisers during campaign season.
During the event, Langloh individually thanked each group responsible for the success of the 2023 campaign.
“To our Campaign Cabinet, co-chairs, and division chairs — your dedication, passion and tireless efforts have been vital to the success of this campaign. Your leadership has inspired us all to strive for excellence,” Langloh said. “To the campaign coordinators and company teams, thank you for your commitment and support that have been the catalysts for change.”
In addition to celebrating the campaign’s success, UWCA also named Jay Brandrup, Founder and Principal of Kinetic, the recipient of the Mervyn H. Sterne Memorial Award, which is presented each year to the United Way volunteer who contributed to the campaign the most significant way.
Brandrup, this year’s Tocqueville Chair and also a member of the UWCA Board, has dedicated time and endless energy to his role, having recruited 54 new members to the Tocqueville Society as Chair and 49 previously.
Tocqueville members give $10,000 or more to UWCA annually.Selling community members on supporting UWCA’s mission is no problem, Brandrup said.
“I just stayed bold and told our story to everybody that would listen to me and have not been afraid to ask; and I would encourage you all to do the same thing,” Brandrup said. “Our story tells itself and usually falls on receptive ears. People want to help. I’m just happy to help them do it.”
United Way’s centennial has actually been an entire year of celebration, appreciation and new initiatives. That has included hosting a community-wide event at CityWalk BHAM downtown in June and the creation and revitalization of community parks in each of the six counties UWCA serves.
Langloh said the campaign finale gave everyone a time to reflect and celebrate but also look forward to the future of UWCA. “Today, as we conclude our 100th annual campaign and celebrate our volunteers, donors and generous community,” said Langloh, “it is an inspiring time as we reflect on not only all that has been accomplished during this campaign, but also as we move forward with our mission that began a century ago.”