Last week, about a dozen members of United Way of Central Alabama’s (UWCA’s) Young Philanthropists Society (YPS) prepared “Welcome Home” bags for recently rehoused clients of Priority Veteran, a United Way program which operates throughout Alabama, working to end veteran homelessness.
Hosted at Brasfield and Gorrie’s corporate headquarters in Birmingham’s Lakeview District, YPS volunteers packed tote bags with toiletries, kitchen goods and notes they wrote by hand. Each bag will be delivered to clients of Priority Veteran who have found new homes through the program.
Lula Skowronek, Director of Priority Veteran, said the idea for the bags came from a recent discussion among Priority Veteran staff. Shanita White-King, a Case Manager with the program, and other staff developed the idea for a bag containing some essentials that most people need right away when moving in, Skowronek said.
“We were talking about what we thought would be a wonderful thing to do for our veterans,” Skowronek said. “Shanita and the others wanted to have something that they can hand to a veteran once they’ve moved into their house to say, ‘Welcome home.’”
Priority Veteran works with veteran families who are homeless or at immediate risk of becoming homeless and helps by providing rental and utility assistance, financial counseling and job assistance, as well as working directly with landlords and property owners to find the best housing situation for a given client.
Ryan Campbell, Training and Development Manager at O’Neal Steel who has been involved with United Way of Central Alabama for about five years, was among the YPS members who put the bags together.
YPS is a group of young professionals who contribute $1,000 or more each year to UWCA. Through the group, members learn more about the Central Alabama community through visits to partner agencies, networking and participating in hands-on volunteer activities such as the bag-packing project.
Being involved with United Way through YPS has made community service easy, enjoyable and rewarding, Campbell said. Being part of a group provides extra motivation to get behind a good cause.
“Everybody shows up with a common purpose so it’s easy just to kick off and start talking, getting to know people,” Campbell said. “We’re all here for the same reason and in some of the same stages of life.”
To learn more about YPS, go to https://www.uwca.org/leadership-giving-societies/young-philanthropists-society.
For more information about Priority Veteran, which is currently celebrating its 10th anniversary, go to https://www.priorityveteran.org.