Tocqueville: Another Word for Commitment

Birmingham is consistently ranked as one of the most generous metro areas in the country, something evidenced by the phenomenal growth of United Way of Central Alabama’s (UWCA’s) Tocqueville Society. Now with more than 780 members, it’s the fourth-largest in the nation and the fastest growing segment of UWCA’s annual campaign. To Tocqueville Committee Chair Jim Richardson, that charitable spirit is what makes Central Alabama so special.

Tocqueville Chair Jim Richardson with Lori Chambers at the Community Food Bank

“Birmingham is a very, very giving community,” Jim said. “It’s a wonderful place to live. And it’s comforting to know that we live in a community that wants to help people in picking their lives back up.”

In many ways, Jim is an embodiment of the charitable spirit of which he speaks. He’s been a UWCA donor since moving to Birmingham almost 40 years ago, and became a volunteer not long after that by serving on the Accountants Committee. Within a few years, he was asked to head that same group. And through the years, he’s served on the boards of partner agencies, such as Girl Scouts and the American Heart Association, as well as having worked on fundraisers with the Boy Scouts. In 2007, he and his wife Diane became members of the Tocqueville Society; they, like all Tocqueville members, have both a deep understanding of, and an even greater appreciation for, the work of United Way, as well as priorities that include helping those in need and building a stronger community.

“We knew we wanted to make that commitment even before we were able to,” he said. “It’s meaningful because of how well United Way uses the funds. One of our favorite parts is just hearing the individual stories of people impacted by United Way. You don’t have to hear many of them to understand what an impact United Way has on people’s lives.”

Jim also pointed out that the many ways in which United Way changes lives for the better – regardless of who you are – reach further than many people realize.

Jim with Tocqueville members Manav Misra and Clyde Tisdale

“It’s amazing the number of programs United Way funds and how well they identify the needs. A lot of us may not think about ourselves as directly benefiting from United Way, but I would challenge anybody to look through the list of United Way agencies. If they haven’t benefited from one of them, somebody close to them has.”

That perspective is characteristic of the deep understanding of United Way’s mission that the Tocqueville Society fosters. Members know what a significant difference they are able to make. And that may be the greatest motivation for their exceptional commitment.