Meet 3 United Way partners who’ve taken community support to the next level + how you can too

COVID-19 is increasing the demand for needs from Birmingham nonprofits whose missions are dedicated to caring for our most vulnerable. By supporting vital agencies like YWCA of Central Alabama, the Crisis Center and the A.G. Gaston Boys and Girls Club through their annual campaign, United Way of Central Alabama (UWCA) is making hope happen in our community.

Hope Happens because of YOU

It’s more important than ever that UWCA’s “Hope Happens” campaign succeeds this year. Because of the pandemic, nonprofits like the ones mentioned didn’t get to have typical fundraising efforts. This is leaving a gap between needs and the ability to provide.

With UWCA, these organizations can rely on unrestricted, sustainable support. Hope Happens when you join United Way of Central Alabama in lending a hand or two to our community.

1. YWCA of Central Alabama

The YWCA provides many recourse to women and their children, including childcare and housing. Photo courtesy of the YWCA of Central Alabama

The YWCA of Central Alabama is a social justice organization that provides services to help families and strengthen communities. This might look like, but isn’t limited to:

  • Affordable housing
  • Nationally-accredited childcare for low income and homeless children
  • Domestic violence services
YWCA of Central AL
Food boxes at the YWCA. Photo courtesy of the YWCA of Central Alabama

When everyone else took a pause, this team has been working harder than ever

Because women were stuck at home during lockdown with their abusers, calls to the YWCA’s domestic violence hotline have doubled since COVID-19. When the YWCA’S shelter was full, they knew they couldn’t turn anyone away from help. So, the team paid for hotel rooms.

“Our services have not slowed down, in fact, they have increased. We are serving families who have lost jobs as a result of the lack of childcare, resulting in the inability to pay rent. Or, struggling with food costs as schools are closed.

We have been there for them every step of the way. We will continue to be, but we can only do it with the help of donors like those who give to United Way. Giving to this campaign is critical, because your gift makes sure that even in a crisis, women and families have a safe place to turn.”

Maria Underwood, Vice President of Development at the YWCA

Nearly a century of partnership

UWCA has been a partner of YWCA of Central Alabama for almost 100 years now. They are a crucial part of funding and supporting the YWCA’s work in eliminating racism and empowering women.

Hope Happens
Yes, even through the pandemic, the YWCA is working hard while using safety precautions. Photo courtesy of the YWCA of Central Alabama

Funding from UWCA and their supporters makes sure that any woman or family who comes through the YWCA’S doors in Jefferson, Blount and St. Clair County are able to get the help they need.

“United Way has also been a strong ally in this year. In particular, by offering COVID assistance grants to help us keep our families safe and taken care of, no matter what else is going on in the world.”

Maria Underwood

2. A.G. Gaston Boys and Girls Club

Hope Happens
The A.G. Boys & Girls Club provides after school support to children aged 6-18 in Birmingham and Bessemer. Photo via A.G. Gaston Boys & Girls Club’s Facebook

When school is out, clubs are in. The A.G. Gaston Boys and Girls Clubs offers an alternative safe place for Birmingham and Bessemer neighborhood children to stay out of trouble, remain in school and succeed in life.

“Like many organizations, our Club has had to adjust to the new reality required by COVID-19 to reach our members and connect them back to our mission. This has been a challenging period for our Club. Our organization has never faced the challenges that are in front of us now, with new ones emerging almost every week.”

Frank Adams, CEO of the A.G. Gaston Boys and Girls Club

A neverending cycle of pivoting

In addition to having access to stable Wi-Fi/computer technology platforms, their sites are now open from 7:30AM-5:30PM. Members also receive assistance with logging in to their virtual classrooms, tutorial assistance, meals, mentorship and organized Boys & Girls Club activities throughout the day.

While they are limited in how many members they’re able to serve every day due to social distancing requirements, members are still surrounded by caring adults in a safe and welcoming environment. Their mission is dedicated to members’ advancement as scholars and future leaders in our community.

“Most importantly, our members have the opportunity to laugh, learn and make friends while remembering what it means to be a child. This ability to be more, while doing more, for our members and their families is why supporting UWCA’s annual campaign is so important. That financial gift is an investment in a life that one day will generate a return for all of us who call Central Alabama home.  We are grateful for the commitment to our community’s most precious natural resource, our children.”

Frank Adams

“We could not be the organization we are today for our boys and girls if not for the deep support and community focus provided by the UWCA team every day.”

A.G. Boys & Girls Club
Activities at the Club teach members character, leadership and most importantly give them the chance to be kids! Photo via A.G. Gaston Boys & Girls Club’s Facebook

UWCA has always served as a major source of philanthropic support for the A.G. Gaston Boys and Girls Club Club. Most importantly, in the execution of its mission to provide safe, nurturing spaces for young people across Jefferson County ages 6-18.

As the organization’s relationship with UWCA has strengthened over the last seven years, the Agency has been critically important in addressing major community challenges through its development of the Bold Goals Initiative.

“UWCA’s leadership in developing working partnerships between other nonprofits, the corporate community and other interested agencies has been transformational.  How our area addresses the needs of our constituents related to youth development, education, health & wellness, food insecurity, poverty, community engagement and advocacy has never been more coordinated as it is now due to UWCA’s efforts.”

Frank Adams

3. The Crisis Center

Hope Happens
The phone room at the Crisis Center. Photo courtesy of the Crisis Center

For those unfamiliar, the Crisis Center serves the unmet needs of people experiencing a personal crisis or mental health issues. Qualified staff responds to help-center lines with free services that promote coping, emotional health and well-being.

Understanding a crisis can never wait

As a partner for over four decades, the Crisis Center has had opportunities to collaborate with other UWCA agencies to ensure their clients and callers are getting the highest quality service and comprehensive care from all available resources in the community.

However, one of the biggest ways UWCA is supporting the Crisis Center is by letting Birmingham and the surrounding community know they are there for those who find themselves in a critical moment.

“The UWCA understands that any individual at any time may find themselves in a critical moment where they need to turn to an agency like ours for support. So, by helping us to spread the word about our programs and services and letting the community know that there is 24-hour support available for their personal crisis is incredibly impactful.”

Janet Simpson-Templin, Director of Development & Communication at the Crisis Center

A swift response in a trying time

When it became clear COVID-19 would impact Birmingham in a big way, the UWCA was quick to mobilize a plan for nonprofits, including the Crisis Center. Janet shared one great example about how they were still able to provide care to participants of their Piper Place Mental Health Day Treatment Programs.

When the Crisis Center team realized in March they would no longer be able to operate the program safely, they were concerned those at Piper Place would miss out on two meals a day, hygiene products, transportation to doctor’s appointments and more resources provided by the program.

“The UWCA’s COVID-19 response support enabled us to help each of our participants, delivering food and essential items to every individual’s doorstep. Our staff continued to transport them to critical doctor’s appointments to support their mental health care. Without this thoughtful turnaround from the UWCA, so many of these individuals may have completely lost access to mental health care and food.”

Janet Simpson-Templin

Hope happens when you give back to your neighbors. Donate time, funds and support to UWCA’S “Hope Happens” campaign and help nonprofits like these.