Just a few months ago, Perrin Jones was living in South Carolina, fresh out of college after graduating from Clemson University with his bachelor’s in business management.
He’d recently visited Birmingham after his sister got married and moved to the city. Immediately attracted to the place, he was lucky to have an offer “fall into his lap” after meeting Alex Morton, Birmingham Market President at First Horizon Bank.
A few days before he was to start as a Private Banking Consultant, Jones said, he was informed by a supervisor that he would be going to work for United Way of Central Alabama (UWCA) for 13 weeks.
On August 21st, Jones became one of the 28 Loaned Executives (LEs) working on UWCA’s 2023 Annual Campaign. After two weeks of rigorous training, he then devoted his time, energy and newly found enthusiasm about United Way to inspire companies throughout UWCA’s six-county region – and each individual employee – to support United Way in its mission to help those in need and build a stronger community for us all.
The opportunity, Jones said, was “the perfect way to start my career and time in Birmingham,” enabling him to visit UWCA partner agencies and meet with other professionals in the area.
To cap it off, last week Jones received the Crawford T. Johnson Loaned Executive of the Year award at the final Friday luncheon for the LEs. Jones was modest about his honor, saying he “just wanted to do a good job” and believed in UWCA.
“One reason I think I was able to do well was believing in the United Way’s mission,” Jones said. “It’s easier to sell when you believe in the product.”
At that final luncheon, which was hosted by Regions Bank at its headquarters in downtown Birmingham, each of the LEs brought supervisors from their respective companies, as several of them told stories and received other awards for their teamwork, fundraising ability and professional growth.
T.J. McIntyre, Communications Coordinator with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama, said working as an LE taught him to make “optimism a practice.”
“It’s like a workout. You’ve got to work it out like a muscle because you get your account book, and you don’t know these people, and you have to go in expecting a yes, or some sort of success,” McIntyre said. “You can’t just go in there expecting a no. If you have a no in your mind, you’re going to be paralyzed. You’re not going to go forward at all.”
McIntyre also pointed to the need for collective effort in being able to secure support for United Way, saying “’United Starts with You,’ but it ends with us.”
“We’ve raised tens of millions of dollars. Not a single one of us, alone, could have done that,” McIntyre said. “It took all the United Way staff, it took the Board, it took Cabinet, it took the Chairs. None of us could have done it alone.”
Mary Walton, one of this year’s sponsored LEs, said being part of the 2023 class gave her more insight into Central Alabama than she’s had in 52 years of living here.
“It’s one thing to hear about what is done. It’s another to be able to see it with your own eyes,” Walton said. “It just entrenches you into the mission of United Way and makes you want to give, find a way to dig deep to give, makes me want to advocate, so that’s what I’m going to do going forward.”
The motto for the LE program is “Send us your best, and we’ll send them back better.”
“I can tell you that I will leave this program much better than when I came,” Walton said.
Catherine Crockett, Senior Talent Acquisition Partner at Regions Bank, who was also part of the 2023 LE class, said simply “learning about the breadth and the scope” of UWCA’s work in Central Alabama was impactful.
Crockett remembered a visit to United Ability, a UWCA partner agency which provides innovative services connecting people with disabilities to their communities.
“One of my favorite things was going with my teammates from Regions to United Ability to see that beautiful campus — the playground where kids who have special needs, and those that don’t, learn together,” Crockett said.
In addition to the Crawford T. Johnson Loaned Executive of the Year award, each of the three LE teams – red, blue and gold – selected their Team Choice award recipients.
The Gold Team selected Sarah Bodden of Encompass Health, and the Red Team selected Kevin White of Alabama Power. There was a tie on the Blue Team between Chris Champion of Coca-Cola Bottling Company United and Becky Galey of Regions Bank. UWCA’s Loaned Executive program is designed to benefit both businesses and their employees while serving a critical role in United Way’s annual fundraising. For more information about the program or how to get involved, go to https://www.uwca.org/for-companies/loaned-executive-program.