With spring decidedly in the air, United Way of Central Alabama’s (UWCA’s) Women United started the season strong with its annual Spring Social, held at Back Forty Beer Company on May 10th. One of the group’s ongoing objectives, providing support for other women in the Central Alabama community, was the main topic of the event. Three of UWCA’s partner agencies that are strongly focused on serving women – Pathways, Childcare Resources and Habitat for Humanity – were each represented with staff and a booth.
Before the program started, women were invited to the Childcare Resources booth to bundle books and school supplies to be given to local families along with handwritten cards. Members also brought donations of toiletries to be given to women served by Pathways.
When Women United Co-Chair Grace Harrelson was asked what she loved most about Women United, it was hard for her to pick just one thing – because there’s so much to love! She said, “I have been proud of all the panels we’ve been able to put together about the state of our kids in this post-COVID world, with the unique tactical challenges the pandemic created. One of the programs I’m most excited to offer this upcoming year will be a lunch-and-learn focused on caregiving for an aging loved one, as this will discuss so many wonderful resources available to our members and their families. In addition to my favorite programs, I also have several favorite projects, including the annual School Beautification in August and the Salvation Army Angel Tree Distribution Day.” Women United members will also have the opportunity to work on a Habitat for Humanity project in October – more details to come.
Women United member Jody Mattson, who works at AmFirst, said, “I love United Way. I give to UWCA because I know that makes a bigger difference through them than alone. I joined Women United specifically because I’m so excited to meet other like-minded women who have a passion for philanthropy.”
The night culminated in a speech from Janet Gillispie, a woman who has become an inspiring advocate for United Way after her own experience receiving services from partner agencies. She spoke of her struggles with addiction, her experience with homelessness and her restoration of faith after the birth of her daughter. After having her baby, she was offered a spot in a recovery program at Pathways, where the counselors offered her a place to stay as well as job training. And Childcare Resources offered her discounted childcare so that she could go to work.
“I was hopeless, and I was homeless, but I learned to laugh again in those hallways at Pathways,” said Janet. “I learned to trust again.” Just this month, she was able to proudly watch her daughter graduate from college. “These programs wouldn’t be possible without you ladies,” she said. “You not only changed my life, but my daughter’s.”
Learn how you can be involved in supporting fellow women in our community by visiting Women United – United Way of Central Alabama (uwca.org)