United Way’s Young Philanthropists Society (YPS) is composed of young people who’ve been inspired in any number of ways, early in their careers, to make a difference in their community by giving to worthy causes, taking action by volunteering and advocating on the importance of helping others. They’re all passionate about philanthropy in their own way, and the new YPS leadership team illustrates how strong and deeply rooted that passion can be.
New co-chairs Kevin Cook, Stephanie Smith and Rosemary Turner each developed meaningful relationships with United Way of Central Alabama (UWCA) even before joining YPS. Kevin, a CPA with Kassouf & Co., served as a member of a Visiting Allocation Team for two years before joining YPS in 2017. Stephanie, an Annuity Product Specialist at Regions Financial Corporation, has been involved with UWCA ever since starting with Regions 20 years ago, but credits YPS for helping focus her volunteer efforts. And Rosemary, who works as a Risk Analyst at Brasfield & Gorrie, did a deep dive into United Way as a Loaned Executive (LE) two years ago, and was hooked.
“I started [at Brasfield & Gorrie] on a Friday,” said Rosemary, “and they said, ‘On Monday, you’re going to United Way as a Loaned Executive.’ I said, ‘What’s that?’” She laughs. “It really thrust me into volunteering, and once you get into United Way, you can’t get out…[because] you don’t want to!”
Rosemary has another connection to United Way, however, that may have made even more of an impression on her than working three and a half months as an LE. She’s literally following in her father’s footsteps. “When I called him to tell him I was going to be a Loaned Executive, he laughed and said, ‘I did the same thing coming out of college!’ And he’s been giving ever since,” she said.
Stephanie’s passion for giving and helping others was also largely instilled in her by her father. She refers to him as her hero, sharing that when she was a child, he had a total of six back surgeries, leaving him unable to walk (and obviously altering his life) for an extended period of time. Then, when he finally got over that hurdle and regained mobility, he was diagnosed with colon cancer. But he kept the faith and persevered.
“I call him the Hulk,” said Stephanie. “He’s still here. So I think about that – that he never gave up –and [now] he does whatever he can for anyone else.”
Kevin’s involvement with UWCA officially started as a member of a Visiting Allocation Team. But he’s been well aware of United Way his entire life, thanks to his father’s work with partner agency Catholic Family Services.
“I always wanted to figure out a way to get synched in with United Way,” he said. “My career path led me more toward the business and accounting side of things instead of non-profit; but I wanted to figure out a way to help [people in need] like my dad did.” He’s not only found just that through YPS, he’s now one of the co-chairs of the whole group!
“I honestly just wish I had more time to dedicate to it,” said Kevin.
With these three at the helm, the up-and-coming generation of philanthropists in Central Alabama will no doubt find the inspiration, motivation and leadership they need to make a meaningful impact on others’ lives.
“It’s a helping hand for the whole five-county community,” said Stephanie.
And as Rosemary likes to say when speaking about the many ways to make a difference through United Way, “If you can’t give, volunteer. And if you can’t volunteer, advocate.”