In people’s darkest moments the United Way is there

Birmingham Alabama
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Birmingham Alabama
Lurenda Avery – photo from United Way of Central Alabama

“You never know who the United Way has helped in their darkest moment.” ~ Lurenda Avery

On May 2006, Lurenda and her husband Ben were expecting their first child, a little girl named Olivia.  Everything was going well. The couple was perfectly happy and fine, but suddenly Lurenda knew “something just didn’t feel right. Something wasn’t right.”

Twenty-four weeks into the pregnancy, Lurenda went into labor.

Lurenda says “I remember looking at the doctor asking her, “How do we fix this?”  

The doctor’s heart-breaking response? “We don’t fix this. You are about to have the baby.”

Olivia did well for the crucial first 72 hours after her birth.  However, her health suddenly faltered.

“Her little kidneys just couldn’t hold up,” Lurenda says, “and then after seven days, we had to say goodbye for now. That was the worst day of my life.”

After Oliva’s passing, a friend of Lurenda’s mother recommended she visit Birmingham’s Amelia Center.

The Amelia Center offers grief counseling both for parents who have lost children and children who have lost parents or siblings.

Lurenda and Ben took the advice of their family friend and visited the Center. 

 “I distinctly remember walking into the Amelia Center for the first time and feeling complete peace,” Lurenda says. “You walk into the Amelia Center and you can just feel it. These people get it; they know where I’m at right now. And I think that they can help us.”

The Amelia Center aided Lurenda and Ben at their darkest moment.  They later learned the center is partly funded by United Way.  

“When I first found out about the Amelia Center, I had no idea what the place was.  And as I started going, as I learned more, I realized they were funded partly by United Way. And I remembered I had given to the United Way several times through my employer. It just goes to show the United Way helps countless organizations. You just never know who they have touched.”

United Way helps to realize the vision of places like the Amelia Center and so many others that are making both material and intangible differences in the lives of the people of Central Alabama. 

Even in people’s darkest moments the United Way is there. Their 2017 campaign slogan says it all: “Live United.”

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Author: Pat Byington

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.