Behind United Way of Central Alabama (UWCA) is a group of community leaders guiding the mission. Coming from different companies and different counties, the members of the UWCA Board of Directors are instrumental to the success of the organization. We recently elected new members to the board, including Kirk Forrester and Zachary Gentile, who tell us they’ve found a very meaningful purpose through the nonprofit.
As a child growing up in Tupelo, Mississippi, Kirk’s family was extremely involved with the local United Way. From a young age, she saw firsthand the impact the organization had on housing, education, healthcare and disaster relief in her hometown. When her family moved to Birmingham, it was a no-brainer for them to connect with UWCA. Kirk joined Women United, worked on the annual campaign and volunteered on the Visiting Allocations Team (VAT).
Zachary’s story with UWCA started a little later. After giving through the workplace campaign at The Ford Meter Box Company, he became familiar with UWCA. But he didn’t have his first real introduction until 2020 when he served as St. Clair County’s United Way co-chair. In 2021, he became the county chair for an additional four counties served by UWCA.
“Along the way, I realized this is something I really like to do, not just something I have to do,” said Zachary. “I see this as high-impact volunteering. You’re doing what you can locally, but because of the strength of United Way, it’s really having a big impact.”
A Wide Net of Support
When people think of UWCA partner agencies, larger organizations such as Children’s of Alabama and Boys and Girls Clubs usually come to mind. Both Kirk and Zachary found that working with UWCA allowed them to learn just how far and deep United Way’s impact runs as a result of the surprising diversity among its partner agencies
For example, during an agency tour when Kirk served on the VAT, she had the opportunity to visit a tiny Boy Scout hut deep in the woods of Walker County.
“To hear the troop leader talk about the impact that one Boy Scout troop has had for the little boys in that community is just a reminder of the reach of United Way, and how it really goes everywhere throughout the six-county footprint,” said Kirk. “When you support United Way, you might not even realize that your support is going to places like that, but once you know about it, it makes you even more passionate about the mission.”
A Promise to Keep Serving
Like every member of the 2022 UWCA Board of Directors, Kirk and Zachary have a history of dedication to United Way’s mission and a passion to continue its work. Joining the board will allow them to make an even bigger impact.
“My expectation is, first and foremost, to learn more about the organization and how it can impact the community,” said Zachary. “I really want to plug into those communities and have a greater reach and a greater influence outside of St. Clair County and ask, ‘How can I help more people?,’ ‘How can I be a champion for United Way?’”
Similarly, Kirk is excited to delve deeper into UWCA’s network of volunteers and partner agencies. Although the new year will bring more challenges, UWCA is ready to face them with help from these community leaders.
“I am so thankful to be joining the board at this time,” said Kirk. “I think that it’s a unique moment of challenge coming out of the pandemic, but also an opportunity. The region doesn’t do well until everybody in the region does well. United Way is a pivotal part of that effort. I’m happy to do whatever I can to contribute, spread the word and try to drum up support.”
To meet the United Way of Central Alabama 2022 Board of Directors, visit the website here.